Campus Life
Lessons worth learning from video games
by Gabby Dumonceaux | March 5, 2020

Game your way to genius.

You’re ten years old. You just got home from a long day at school and all you want to do is play video games. You sling your backpack onto your bedroom floor, grab a granola bar from your pantry, and set yourself up in front of your brand new PlayStation 2.

Everything is perfect—until your mom comes in and insists video games are a waste of time.

As it turns out, though, she may not have been completely correct.

Homer Simpson from, "The Simpsons," holds a magnifying glass up to his eye and says, "A-ha!"

Video games can actually provide users with a host of valuable benefits, so long as they aren’t played in excess.

Without further ado, here are some ways video games can make your life better:

Memory

Have you ever wandered around your house searching for your keys, your phone or your debit card, frustrated beyond belief because you were certain you left them on your kitchen table? Well, video games could solve that problem for good.

A young man wearing a green shirt and black basketball shorts appears confused as he searches through a messy living room.

Researchers at UC Irvine have found that playing video games can help improve your spatial memory, which is a fancy way of saying they can help you make better sense of your environment and the location of objects within it.

This is because most video games require familiarizing yourself with an intricate virtual world. Exploring a game map activates the same cognitive processes that are used when navigating new places in real life—only, with video games, you can explore without getting out of your pyjamas.

It’s a win-win if you ask me.

Rigby and Mordecai from Cartoon Network's, "The Regular Show," feverishly mash buttons on video game controllers while sitting on a couch in front of a coffee table covered with garbage.

Eyesight

Don’t get us wrong, staring at a screen all day isn’t great for your vision. That being said, playing video games regularly can improve your eyesight by refining your contrast sensitivity function.

Essentially, contrast sensitivity function is a measure of how well your eyes can differentiate between similar-looking objects, like different shades of grey.

Ben Chang from the TV show, "Community," overdramatically flips a page in a book, looks into the camera, and smiles.

Having a high contrast sensitivity function can boost your ability to pick out tiny details in images. This makes you better at things like reading tiny print and driving at night, according to research led by Daphne Bavelier at the University of Rochester.

Your contrast sensitivity function is also one of the first visual skills to deteriorate with age; so Fortnite just might be the new fountain of youth.

Fine motor skills

Sports aren’t the only way to hone your hand-eye coordination (which is good because, if you’re like me, until recently you thought a “one-timer” meant going on a date with someone who immediately ghosts you afterward).

A man and a woman stand next to each other. The woman blows glitter into the air and disappears; the man looks into the camera, confused.

Video games have been confirmed to enhance the precision, aim, pace and dexterity of your hand movements, which can improve your handwriting and increase your typing speed.

This kind of skill development isn’t limited to children, either—one study from the University of Opole in Poland found that gaming can help fine motor coordination in adults ages 20-25.

How’s that for making learning fun?

The four newsmen from the movie, "Anchorman," jump joyfully and strike a pose mid-air.

Teamwork and acceptance

Whether you’re winning a Super Bowl in Madden NFL, collecting stars in Super Mario Party or defeating zombies in Red Dead Redemption, many video games involve co-operating with teammates. Just like the old adage, “Practice makes perfect,” proclaims, practicing teamwork, even virtually, makes you a better team player.

Thanks to Overwatch, you’ll ace that next group project.

If improving your ability to work collaboratively isn’t enough, research has also shown that playing on a team with people from varying social groups can help reduce internalized prejudices.

Tigger from, "Winnie the Pooh," gives an enthusiastic hug to his friend Eeyore.

In a study conducted by Paul Adachi, a Ph.D. student in psychology at Brock University, Brock students played a game of Call Of Duty: Black Ops alongside a teammate who was in a different room. Half of the participants were told their partner was an American student from the University at Buffalo, the other half were told they were playing with a fellow Brock student.

Before and after playing, participants were screened regarding their perception of Americans. Results indicated that students who thought they were gaming with an American had much more positive attitudes toward both University at Buffalo students and Americans in general than their counterparts.

You might say every gaming session makes the world a better place.

A photo of Earth is covered with yellow, blue, green and red smiley face stickers.

Moderation

Even water is harmful in excess. While video games can certainly help you develop valuable life skills, those skills will only be helpful if you power down and use them.

Your mom may have been mistaken when she told you gaming was a waste of time. But, she was right to tell you to play outside every once in a while.

In fact, spending time outdoors has been shown to improve concentration, which in turn can better your video game performance. It’s all about balance, my friends.

Larry David and J.B. Smoove from, "Curb Your Enthusiasm," struggle to hold their balance as they stand in tree pose in a yoga class.

If you’re interested in cashing in on all of the benefits video games have to offer, stop by IGNITE’s upcoming Super Smash Bros tournament! It’s happening March 31 at both the North and Lakeshore campuses, and it’s totally FREE with registration.

Oh, and the grand prize is a Nintendo Switch.

See you there!

Pikachu stands next to a Poke Ball and waves to the camera.


Get ready for the big day by finding out which Super Smash Bros character matches your personality.

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