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Positive Effects Of Video Games On Today's Society

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In the world of tomorrow, video games are constantly growing and thriving as a result of people’s interest in an escape from reality. Video games first stepped into the public eye in the early 1970’s, with the introduction of the Atari system, and the popular yet simple game known as Pong. When pong had launched on the Atari system, Atari Inc became a household name until the early 90’s (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019). Since the decline of the Atari, other popular gaming systems such as the Playstation and Xbox have taken center stage, and have been in the spotlight for over 15 years. Since then, both companies have competed against each other with the launches of new gaming consoles every couple of years.

Video games are defined as a simulation of technology manipulated by a computer and displayed on a screen (qtd. in Ingram & Cangemi 1). Since their introduction in the 1970’s, video games have grown into the multi-billion dollar industry that it is today. In 2016, annual US retail sales alone reached $30 billion, and over $91 billion worldwide(Ingram & Cangemi 2) In only one country, video games grossed $30 billion, and the sales have only continued to grow with each passing year as technology continues to improve. However, as the industry grows, criticism grows as well. People say that as the industry continues to flourish, violence and crimes influenced by violent video games will also grow as a result. But, even with these stereotypical and negative effects, there are more benefits to playing video games than there are downsides.

A common criticism of video games is that playing them is an antisocial activity. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Over 60% of gamers play with other people in person, and over 90% of gamers on PC (Personal Computer) play with friends online (qtd. in Ingram & Cangemi 2). According to Jay Ingram and Joseph Cangemi, Canadian author and psychology professor respectively,“Online games have the capacity to create opportunities for players to experience achievement, as well as the ability to network with others and form sustained social bonds”(Ingram & Cangemi 6). This shows that video games have the ability to help form long-lasting friendships,and allow players to feel accomplished. Having certain objectives in games give players focus, and an ability to come up with creative ways to solve problems within a simulation. Failure to achieve said objectives give the player a feeling of motivation, which makes finally completing the achievement that much more satisfaction. Video games are often seen as being a way to unwind/relax after a long day, and is commonly known as a way to relieve excess stress.

Video games are known to involve complex tasks that require certain skills to accomplish. By developing such skills after repetitive playing, video games can give players certain advantages over their non-playing counterparts. For example, in a study conducted by researchers Adam Oei and Michael Patterson,”Results from the study corroborated the increasing body of evidence indicating that action video game play enhances several cognitive and perceptual abilities”(Oei & Patterson 13). perceptual enhancements include improved peripheral vision, contrast sensitivity, working memory, ability to multitask, and also grants reduced attentional blink effects(Oei & Patterson 1). This essentially means that video games, especially action-oriented games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield, can improve certain characteristics. The fast-paced gameplay requires good reaction time and quick thinking in order to defeat the opponent. Ability to multitask allows players to complete multiple objectives at once, which is a skill that is highly desired in today’s society. With a stronger working memory, a person’s reasoning and decision-making grow much stronger, and they can use these skills in everyday life.

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Using video games as tools in order to strengthen these skills is incredibly positive, and is not only used by everyday people, but also used by the United States Military for numerous reasons. According to John Derby, a Psychology Professor at the University of Kansas, “The U.S military’s first foray into modifying retail video games was the first-person shooter “Doom”, which was modified as “Marine Doom” in 1997 for teaching decision-making and military thinking” (qtd. in Derby 2). The U.S military uses video games as a way to not only train military personnel, but to also recruit young gamers. “Marine Doom” was not the last time the government would modify video games to increase interest in joining the military. The first military training application for a commercial gaming console was the application “Full Spectrum Command”, which was later modified into the award winning commercial video game “Full Spectrum Warrior” (FSW). FSW is a game where two squads of soldiers move through an environment, covering each other and killing Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists. Following the success of the game, ICT, one of the companies that helped the military develop FSW, went on to develop as a virtual reality therapy interface used to treat PTSD in veterans coming home from war. Usually, veterans are not keen to go to therapy to help treat their PTSD. According to war veteran Travis Boyd, “ I didn’t want to have it on my military record that I was crazy. {….} Even though there was no punishment for going to therapy, it was looked down upon and seen as weak” (qtd. in Derby 11). This attitude is not uncommon for soldiers coming home from war. In a study conducted in 2004, researchers Hoge et al. found that only 23% to 40% of Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers coming home sought mental health care (Derby 11). However, soldiers are more likely to go play a game that works as V.R therapy then go to a therapist for mental health. This shows that veterans will only get the help they need from playing video games, since they see it as a weakness to go see a therapist. Not only are video games good for normal everyday people, they are also supported by the U.S military, and help veterans fight against the horrors of war. However, because the U.S army and other branches of the military are seen as violent, people make the assumption that video games are also incredibly brutal and aggressive.

Video games can be violent, that is an indisputable fact. They can also be seen as sexist, homophobic and even racist. However, this can also be said with any other form of media. Such examples include movies, music, and books. Like all of these, video games cannot be blamed for making people violent. Blaming a game for inspiring especially violent behavior is akin to blaming a movie for manipulating a person’s emotions. Garry Crawford, a Professor of Cultural Sociology, states that, “As with any cultural activity, it is impossible to categorize video games as wholly good or bad” (Crawford 5). This means that video games are unable to be categorized as only evil, as playing them is a cultural activity, meaning that they may or may not inspire a person to be more aggressive. Compared to sports such as boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts, video games are much more tame and controlled. Because playing video games is seen as a leisure activity that one will play in their spare time, it can be said that it inspires other emotions besides anger or aggression. They can make a player feel joy, victory, triumph, and determination. Not every game is violent, and most games that are violent are out of a child’s reach, so children are safe from the violence that is portrayed.

Every game that has ever been made has what is called a “rating”. When looking at the box a game comes in or a game in general, there is a black and white square that has letters and numbers in it. Depending on what letter is in the square, that is the rating. For example, if a game has the letter “M” on it, that means that the content of the game is for mature audiences only, and should not be played by children. Other ratings include “E for everyone”, and “T for teen”. These popular phrases are used in these ratings by a company known as the “Entertainment Software Surface Board”, or ESRB for short (ESRB ratings). According to the ESRB website, the primary mission of this non-profit regulatory organization is to “help parents make informed decisions about the video games and apps their children play (ESRB ratings, 2019). The ESRB makes these ratings so parents can know what games they should and should not buy for their children. What this means is that if a game is too violent, then a parent should not buy the game for their child depending on the child’s age. In fact, it is a common rule in stores to ask for identification before completing a purchase. So if a child is below the age requirement, then the game will not be sold to that child.

In conclusion, playing video games is a cultural activity that has many benefits and not nearly as many downsides. They provide people of all ages and backgrounds with entertainment as well as skills that can impact daily lives in a positive way. Playing them can grant certain enhancements such as improved sight, attention to detail, and many others mentioned in the earlier paragraphs. Even the U.S military uses video games to help train those who keep the United States safe from outside threats and treat veterans afflicted with trauma. Games are also a large part of world culture, now being seen as a form of media along with films, music, and literature. Video games are also for people of all ages, and certain games are restricted from children. With technology continuing to grow every passing day, video games will continue to thrive alongside it, making billions more dollars and affecting any who come into contact with them in nothing but positive ways.

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Positive Effects Of Video Games On Today’s Society. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/positive-effects-of-video-games-on-todays-society/
“Positive Effects Of Video Games On Today’s Society.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/positive-effects-of-video-games-on-todays-society/
Positive Effects Of Video Games On Today’s Society. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/positive-effects-of-video-games-on-todays-society/> [Accessed 1 Feb. 2023].
Positive Effects Of Video Games On Today’s Society [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2023 Feb 1]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/positive-effects-of-video-games-on-todays-society/
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