Video games ≠ evil

In a new article today, one of SA’s writers argues that certain video games can provide tangible benefits (like improved perception of things with low contrast) to the people who play them, especially kids.  I can’t personally speak to the sight example; I never played much by way of action-based games.  The closest I got was probably when I played through Zelda on SNES (WaveRace 64 is anything but low contrast, and I only played part of Ocarina of Time).

But is it any surprise, really, that video games can be beneficial?  Was it that hard to see past the blood on Mortal Kombat?

I played mostly RPGs, growing up, and to be good at those you have to learn to strategize.  (I’m low on HP – if I hit, and don’t kill the enemy, it will probably kill me; if I defend, I’ll be in the same situation next turn.  That’s assuming it doesn’t cast Icebolt and beat me anyway.  If I try to run, I could be blocked…and probably beaten.  What should I do?)

You also have to learn a bit of frugality in the earlier games.  If you can do it, it makes more sense – and is faster in the end – to not buy the new weapon that you can afford now when you know you’ll need a better one when you get to the next town anyway.  Hours of slime-killing to save for your first sword in Dragon Warrior I, anyone?

Also, they introduced me to some figures from various mythologies and religions – Shiva, Indra, Gilgamesh, djinn, Io, and so forth.  So when I first read about the ‘real’ ones, it sparked a connection for me.  It was already personally interesting, because I knew the names and hadn’t realized they were taken from real-world beliefs and narratives.  Some RPGs really are thoughtful (sometimes even thought-provoking) pieces of work.

Beneficial?  Heck yes!


3 thoughts on “Video games ≠ evil

  1. Lost Odyssey is a classic example of a thought-provoking RPG. The main character lost his memory (big surprise) but as you progress through the game you encounter situations that unlock an ancient memory. These are portrayed in text on the screen against music and art that fits the mood of the memory. The memories can be good, or bad. Touching or repulsive. But the way they were delivered is what I will always remember. Lost Odyssey is one of the deepest RPGs I’ve ever played.

    • Ah, I’m not familiar with newer games from the mind that made Final Fantasy. Actually, for being only a twenty-something, I’m pretty far behind the video game times (I’m stuck in the 90s). It’s puzzles and strategy, I think, that I like the best in a good RPG. But for depth of storyline, Final Fantasy always stood out. So I should hope to hear likewise of its successors. 🙂

      To be fair to the article’s authors, they did acknowledge certain types of benefits from some video games as being pretty well accepted. That flight sim games could help one be a better pilot later, for example — ‘practice makes perfect,’ in effect. I think frugality can fit the authors’ bill of generalized benefits, though; of course, I could be an oddball. That and most newer games don’t seem to require it as much; though I might note the once-per-battle rule with Elements in Chrono Cross – gotta learn to make the most of each spell, no refilling your magic in-battle.

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