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!