Most people believe that they know exactly how video games influence a person’s behavior. Not only that, they also know what kind of an effect they have on your brain – an extremely negative one. It is common knowledge that people, mostly teenagers, who spend a lot of time playing video games turn into mindless zombies incapable of getting or keeping a decent job.
Fortunately, many of us are aware of how reliable and accurate common knowledge really is. For this reason, and many others, one of them being my undeniable love for video games, I’ve decided to do a little research to finally give a proper answer to the question of the effect of video games on your brain.
The impact of video games on brain functions has been the focus of many studies ever since playing became a very popular and widespread activity. We will take a closer look at the results of research, hoping that it will give us some kind of an answer.
When they first started coming out, video games were considered a form of entertainment devoid of anything that could be considered valuable. As years passed, more and more people were drawn into their imaginary worlds, and the number of video game fans has been growing ever since.
There have also been changes in the way critics view them. Regardless of their genre, plot, main characters and soundtrack, even the experts on subjects of art and aesthetics seem to believe that video games are not just games.
In this article, we will try to discuss the shift of thought regarding the question of video games as art and give reasons as to why video games absolutely should be considered art.
What we consider art seems at first glance to be a bunch of things that don’t have anything in common. I mean, should movies and oil paintings really be squeezed into the same category?
Well, those are just two different forms of what we call art, and the reason why they exist is the fact that people are able of expressing themselves in many different ways. This is exactly why we have what is known as the seven art forms.
Gaming has certainly got past the playful stage. Yes, the industry is now worth over US $74 billion in the year 2011. The numbers have risen more in the past few years. On an average, you can find a big majority of people playing these video games on their smartphones or consoles. If they don’t have a console, then they play on their PC. Most kids today own one or more than one game console. For those of you who don’t have a console and have to contend with your PC for getting your gaming experience you need not feel inferior. Here are some wonderful gadgets that make your PC gaming experience the best ever, even more than a console.
Over the years, manufacturers have been providing gamers with several advanced devices beyond the usual keyboard, joystick, and mouse. While some of these are durable, you have some, which are functionally superior too. Most often, these have futuristic design and look stylish. But at their core all these have only one objective and that is to provide the best gaming experience ever for the gamer. Here are some such devices.
Logitech G930 Gaming Headset
This is best for those who are crazy about multiplayer games. This headset helps to block the white noise letting you focus on distinct game sounds and on what your teammates are doing. The surround sound, noise cancelling mic and wireless connectivity helps to deliver and receive commands from your team players in a clear and efficient way.
This gaming light gives an excellent ambience to your gaming room. When you play games that are compatible with amBX, the lights will change according to the game lighting conditions. When compared to conventional lighting systems, using LED lights is a far better option as these focus light more effectively. In fact, I even use these lights for growing plants, although they’re not as good as true LED grow lights.
Razer Naga Mouse
This mouse is for heavy-duty video games. The ergonomic design makes it easy to use the mouse. Further, it comes with programmable buttons that are 17 MMO optimized. The scroll wheel of the mouse can be used in 24 different ways to help in advanced gaming maneuvers.
Saitek X52 Flight Control System
This is for those who love to play flight simulation video games. This controller comes with an advanced 5-position adjustment model that is comfortable as well as highly functional. The system also has an LCD display.
Razer Ferox Gaming Speakers
This speaker designed to look like small-scale power plants or binoculars has two excellently functional gaming speakers that give 360-degree directional sound. This is ideal for gaming enthusiasts who thrive on full surround sound effect (who doesn’t!)
Razer Tiamat Gaming Headset
This headset has 7.1-surround sound giving you distinct and clear sound for all your games. You can tune audio for every channel with the help of the controller provided with it. The soft and good quality ear pads help you to fit the headset easily and conveniently.
Corsair Vengeance M90 Gaming Mouse
This mouse has 9 macro-sized keys and 15 buttons, which enable easy access to spells, combo moves, and abilities in a game. The mouse uses Lift detection system that tracks movement when you lift the mouse above, from the surface it rests on.
Riding ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) is getting more popular by the day, and it’s hard to argue the fact that this is one of the greatest hobbies one might have. Even scientists and doctors approve of it as ATV riding provides several very important health benefits. Of course, there are also some risks to be considered, but game developers might help us reduce them.
As I’m rather fond of ATVs myself, I did some research into the matter and found out several facts that made me love riding them even more. However, before we move on to the health and fitness benefits offered by these vehicles, I’d like to focus on how to make them safer.
This is one of the numerous situations where games can actually help you deal with the challenges presented by real life. As the popularity of ATVs has increased recently, the developers picked up on this interest and created a number of simulators that allow you to enjoy “riding” from the comfort of your home. These games offer two major benefits. On one hand, they allow you to have fun when the weather is too bad, or if you don’t have time for a real ride.
On the other hand, a good simulator allows you to train and hone your skills. Therefore, the risk of you getting into a real accident is decreased. Some of the games are so good that professional riders use them for training before competitions. Even some schools use these programs today to provide students with the training necessary to ensure their safety during active recreation.
Of course, simulators aren’t the only hi-tech solution that makes ATs safer. If you really want to start riding, you need to make sure that your vehicle is equipped with all the necessary safety measures. Consider installing additional ATV LED lights, like the ones you can find here. They will increase your visibility range greatly and these lights don’t “glare” as much as ordinary light bulbs.
Various studies prove that riding ATVs is a great hobby that can literally make you a happier and healthier person. The most important health benefits this activity provides include:
- Increased fitness level.
Riding a heavy ATV requires a great deal of physical effort. This is the part that you can’t really recreate through simulation, which is why it’s imperative to practice both virtually and in real life. Every ride is a workout that will help you stay in shape and improve your overall wellbeing, like any physical exercise.
- Heart benefits.
According to the results of research, your oxygen intake increases by 3.5-6 times during a ride. This constitutes a moderately intense physical activity that gets your heart pumping blood faster, but not too fast. This is a great prevention therapy for various cardiovascular diseases.
- Stress reduction.
The boost of adrenalin and endorphins one gets during and immediately after a ride is so huge, you will feel euphoric for hours after this. The activity itself requires full concentration, which means that it’s a great way to keep your mind from daily problems and reduce the amount of stress they put you under.
The first thing people think about when they hear the words “video game” is having fun. Who wouldn’t like to spend a few hours playing an interesting game, right? However, as you should know by now, there is much more to video games than entertainment. The potential of this technology is huge, and many people understand this. One of the “products” of this understanding is the implementation of video games in combat training for young military recruits.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this particular practice. Those who are against it claim, that this kind of training promotes desensitization and makes it easier for soldiers to take lives. However, the supporters of this practice argue that recreating the battlefield and going over the details of the fight, seeing it from different points of view, actually helps save lives. This way, soldiers are presented with a unique opportunity to analyze the battlefield and understand what exactly happened there. Seeing every action and its effects on the course of the battle provides a unique learning experience that can help people avoid mistakes in the future.
This particular technology has proven to be so effective that it’s even used in medicine. Quite often submerging into this kind of “virtual reality” and relieving the battle assists with the treatment of PTSD.
Personally I believe that training on something relatively harmless is the best way to learn. It’s like trying your moves on a dummy before you actually get into a real spar. A grappling dummy, like the ones you can see at http://www.grapplingdummyinsider.com/, will be anyone’s perfect training partner as it allows you to perfect your skills without worrying about hurting your partner. Once you get confident in your moves, you can move on to sparring with people.
How Does Gaming Influence the Military?
Of course, first-person shooters developed based on the combatants’ reports aren’t the only type of gaming technology used adopted and adapted by the military. The recruits who undergo training today get access to all kinds of training equipment and software. The most significant benefits from implementing the gaming technology definitely go to pilots.
The training they must undergo is far more complicated than donning a comfortable gi and tossing around a grappling dummy covered with sensors can provide. They require state-of-art flight simulators that will allow them to learn how to control all kinds of avian vehicles in any situation. The simulators developed for this purpose must be perfect to ensure that the software is capable of recreating real-life reactions of the plane to weather and various kinds of malfunctions.
Pilots who get a chance to practice using these programs on a regular basis have a much better chance of pulling through an extreme situation and saving their own and other soldiers’ (and often civilians) lives as well. This efficiency of this training program cannot be underestimated, and it started with games. Even today, military software developers draw inspiration from their colleagues who work in the gaming industry.
A single look at some of the military equipment produced today proves how much of an effect the gaming industry has on the army. Even controllers to some of the weapons look similar to game controllers, which makes it easier for recruits to learn how to use them. I can only hope that this symbiosis of two industries that are so drastically different will continue to help saving the lives of our soldiers and the people they protect.
It’s true that people who play computer and video games tend to live in a different world. The argument made by gamers is that perhaps their virtual world is better than the real world. Sometimes, it is tough to argue against that point. The problem with people living in virtual reality is that they find it rather difficult to cope with real reality and carrying out the simple things in life. Go to the beach. Have a picnic. Play something physical. No thanks, there’s a group of us gamers getting together online to kill and maim zombies that plan to invade earth. The most physical thing a gamer might do is to attend a Comic-Con weekend!
What is it about games that can have a person mesmerized in front of a screen for hours on end, hardly blinking, drinking only coffee, eating only snacks and taking a break only to go to the toilet? Maybe by taking a look at some of the games that are so popular, it will be easier to make a call that is fairer rather than stereotyping these people as nerds and geeks. By the way, these terms no longer seem to be derogatory. You can even buy lapel badges that state plainly: Avoid me. I am a Geek! Or how about this one: My conversation is limited to hand signals. I’m a Nerd!
Call of Duty: In this game you seem to be a warmonger who can slay thousands of enemies, heal your bullet wounds with the click of a mouse and like Lazareth, you can be resurrected as an even stronger badass. Wow!
The Legend of Zelda: a Japanese designed game, therefore, more outrageous with special effects that enable you to break people’s pots, slaughter their chickens and fit in a bit of fishing.
Grand Theft Auto: an insanely brutal and violent game where weapons should be locked in an impregnable gun safe that is unable to be open except by playing for another hour and working out the combination. Each person you don’t kill causes another locking device to fall off the safe. Look out when that safe is open, though! This game’s popularity with the very young is kind of disturbing.
Uncharted: Murder and racism abound in this gem of a game and you can throw in a bit of genocide too. Why would you want to destroy the lost ancient city you spent all game trying to find? A puzzle with no answer.
Pokemon: you’re like a crazed zookeeper with a streak of sadism making the creatures you capture fight each other for freedom. Weird but ever so popular and has been on the market for 20 years.
Mass Effect: A high-tech science fiction game in which you kill as many people and aliens as you can so you can save the galaxy.
Okay, the descriptions are a bit tongue in cheek but the opinions offered are provided by a non-gamer who finds better things to do with his life. He may not be right!
Video games are commonly looked upon with suspicion by people especially parents. They consider it as a bad habit one that would prevent their child from developing well. With most of the popular games built on action and annihilation, this perception may be true. But there are video games that are constructive and motivate the creative streak in you. I have compiled a list of a few games that are based on decorating, building, and designing. Players can indulge in home building, which I can definitely say is a highly entertaining and fulfilling task.
The best part in this game is the home building and decoration. From creating my virtual avatar to building my imaginative home the entire process is highly exciting and satisfying too. While building a real home is not that easy a task, this game gives the same satisfaction, but is much cheaper in terms of money and effort.
And in the real world, the frequent repairs that pop up can be quite trying on your patience. Once when one of the patio chairs in my home got damaged, the carpenter who repaired it recommended using the reciprocating saws, such as those at Jason Saw Reviews. Having such handy tools make any DIY work a breeze as I found out. Players can make virtual counterparts that they can spoil or manipulate as they wish and also the architectural projects and home furnishings.
Harvest Moon: Animal Parade
Harvest Moon is a pioneer in farm simulation and paved the way for popular games such as Farmville. Created for the initial Nintendo system, this game involves basic farm management, getting married, owning a home and decorating it. The graphics are beautiful and controls easy to handle. This is actually a fabulous family game that has been updated for all Wii players looking to delve into farm life albeit virtually.
Design This Home
This game has excellent customization features, which is what attracts players the most. The game lets players own a virtual home and players can have their pick of floor plan from the 6 choices each with nearly 9 rooms that can be decorated as they wish. The various floor and wall textures, furniture and other items make it a fully entertaining game that keep you engrossed for a long, long time.
In the real world, it is impossible to do things in such a large scale except, if you have the money to spend lavishly on the décor and of course the repair. I occasionally lend a hand at home on the odd jobs that crop up. I especially like to work on wood items. The efficient saw, click here, we have at home is one main reason for my volunteering to do the work.
Home Sweet Home
While the Sims had been originally a game on real estate decoration but later shifted to different varieties, this game has the focus fixed on home décor alone. A player has to meet the demands of homeowners in the game on how they want their space to appear.
PlayStation Home, Fable 3, Rune Factory, Second Life, Everquest 2 are a few other games that are about home design, which keep you engaged and excited, even if they do not feature any adventurous action sequences.
I can hear some fellow gamers screaming out aloud; no, this cannot be, how is it possible to imagine a day without gaming. How is it possible to imagine a universe without a daily dose of gaming? Rest easy; because I am not about to suggest anything of the sort. All I’m going to suggest, though, is that even gamers such as you and me need to take our eyes off the screen every once in a while and create a balanced ambience in which to work, play and live.
I’m going to start off today’s short list of suggestions with a question.
Spend more time with less invincible humans
Please don’t take this personally because this has happened to me on many occasions over the years. Because of your passion for gaming, have you ever been called names by your high school classmates? Around the world, many names have been conjured up to equate with what is commonly known as nerds and geeks. How have you responded to being referred to in derogatory terms? If you have responded correctly, as I have done, then you have more than likely taken out some of the frustration by playing another round of visually violent (but stimulating) games.
Hours later, you felt better. But the next day, similar feelings of anxiety and alienation may have returned. So, all I’m suggesting now is that as a gamer, don’t spend too much time closeted in your room in front of your screen with only your joystick for company. Also, don’t spend too much time with fellow gamers. Try to spend more time (not much more than you have to, mind you) with other less ingenuous men and women. You might just leave an indelible impression on them.
Take advantage of your fantastic imagination
Your creative and fantastical imagination can be used to your great advantage by indulging in other hobbies and pursuits, such as hiking, book clubs, tinkering with wood or metal in your dad’s garage, or even studying for another college degree. These days, as you already know, thanks to the internet, opportunities to explore all new ideas and avenues in life are never far from you. Let’s say you want to join a book club. All you need to do is visit your local library or use your local search engine to locate the closest club or suitable genre of interest.
You might also want to learn how to handle small woodturning machines or metal grinders. At the click of your mouse, you will find many how-to guides or video presentations. None of these hobbies or life-oriented practices needs to tear you away from your main interest in life; gaming.
By seeking out other interests, such as reading, hiking, woodworking and cabinet making, you do your chances of becoming one of the world’s top gamers a lot of good. With a healthy balance between work, play and life, you are more than focused and stimulated, mentally and physically composed, and un-tethered by name-calling to make yet another top score.
To avoid my latest post sounding redundant, I thought I would take a different approach and compare gaming as we know it today to the games people played in the past.
Well, the games we play today were not games back then. In fact, it was almost always about survival and winning wars at great cost but with the ultimate prize in mind.
Stretching back over a period of centuries, men were prepared to kill (or die) in order to survive or win a battle for their kings or emperors. Not redundant, the rest of this post should still remind readers of the inherent benefits of gaming in general.
Parental guidance is advised
So, many years ago things we see in video games today were for real. Real blood was shed and men, women and children were persecuted. For further punishment on those who could not see their way to obeying the laws of their kingdom, men, women and even children were cruelly tortured by having their limbs stretched to breaking point until they popped painfully out of joint. Eyes were gouged and fingers were hacked off.
Today’s surreal world of gaming, of course, allows us to do all of these things, and more, fantasizing about our complete dominance over others, weak or strong. We are able to capture our greatest enemies and through the use of realistic dialogue on our console programs, spell out to them just what we have in mind to do to them. Any of you who have tasted blood in a viral sense, will know that this is not a game for the faint-hearted. Parental guidance is usually advised.
Gaming could promote harmony
Millions of years ago, never mind just the last few centuries, prehistoric man was very much in the minority. Larger than life beasts roamed the earth, mainly to seek out weaker prey to maim, kill and devour. Far inferior to ancient man in terms of intelligence and cognitive thinking skills these large fiends more than made up for it with their brute strength and natural instinct for evil. Fortunately, these men could still protect their families by hiding them in caves and carving tools out of stone to make fires and manufacture their own weapons of minimal destruction.
Today, we can hold our own without the use of handy tools such as angle grinders, air pressurized nailers and wood carvers. We also don’t need live ammunition or armored shelters to hide from our enemies. The world as we know it today, seems to be going to, well, you know. But, in closing this particular post, we can surely argue that if more angry young men played games, taking out their frustrations on a machine and realistic-looking ogres, the world might just become a little safer, even for the few creatures who have nowhere left to hide.
So, in case you have forgotten, the practice of gaming, although addictive to some, remains an educational tool. More importantly, it can play its part in creating a healthier, safer and eco-friendly environment in which all can live harmoniously.
From a glance, you might think this post is going to be about terrible winter games that aren’t much fun to play. While this is technically true, I’m thinking of an actual video game from a long time ago, back in the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was called Winter Games, and believe you me, it was indeed terrible. The number of events was very limited, the controls were unresponsive, the graphics were downright ugly and, well, when you combined all of these great features together, you got something so bad that people are still giving it glaring reviews today, almost 30 years later.
Now, I wasn’t around to see Winter Games when it was fresh and new, so maybe my reaction to it isn’t going to be as severe as that of someone from back when the game was brand new. We’ve had decades of new consoles, computers and gaming on both since then, with some huge leaps and bounds forward in terms of graphics, writing and gameplay in general. So I’ll admit, yeah, it might be kind of hard for me to give this game an objective review. But when you’re dealing with something which is objectively garbage, viewing it with some subjective bias isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It’s pretty much impossible to find any copies of the old NES cartridge for Winter Games, so I used an emulator to try it out for myself. If I could go back a week or two and tell myself back then that I was going to have a bad time if I played the game, I would. That’s how glaringly awful it is. You could give those little pixelated skiiers and snowboarders the best equipment money could buy, like the stuff which gets high reviews at Winter Ninja, and they would still fall over in the snow and fail.
There’s literally nothing good to say about this game, so it’s hard for me to figure out a place to start. I guess the first thing I should say is that I would never make something this bad and then actually try to sell it to other people for money. I’m serious here – it doesn’t matter what direction I press, because my skier isn’t going to move the way I want them to anyhow. I tried the slalom jump a couple dozen times and failed to stick a single landing. That’s just the start too, it gets better.
Apparently Winter Games had a few different versions, and the game I played was just one of many. It featured a kind of luge race too where you would try to keep your sled centered and stop yourself from crashing and, I assume, dying in a horrible accident. That controlled about as well as the skiing. This game was so bad, I literally have no interest whatsoever in looking up the other versions to see if they’re any better. The bottom line is, if you’re looking for a video game so bad you’ll probably laugh once you get through screaming and crying, just do what I did.
If you would for a moment, think about games like ping pong, table tennis and even card games like blackjack and poker. What’s the one thing all of these different games have in common? It’s the table, of course. Though it’s a fact that some card tables are rounded to have the players all facing each other during any given game, practically any flat, stable surface will suffice when it comes to table gaming. The thing is, these tables tend to cost hundreds of dollars even if a deck of playing cards is more like $3, or some paddles and balls would total less than $30.
Fortunately, the table is also the easiest piece of equipment for you to improvise on your own. This is especially true if you already have some tools handy, or know someone with access to tools, especially a decent electric saw and a sander. You’ll need the first tool to actually cut your table from a large piece of wood, or several pieces of wood. You’ll need the second tool to treat the rough edges on the improvised table and make all of the surfaces smooth and safe for people to play on. Even a great, cheap table would still be trash if it constantly gave people slivers, right?
Though a saw and sander are all you really need to make a tabletop, it wouldn’t hurt to bring along a ruler for measuring the cuts and keeping yourself from wasting materials. A decent level would also be good for letting you know if the tabletop is flat or if it needs to be pressed. Once the wood is cut, you can press it to make it flat if need be – just put it between your mattress and box spring and sleep on it for a couple nights. Then use a sander to shave down rough edges and get a smooth surface for finishing. You can look up sanders at http://beltsanderworld.com/.
Not all pieces of wood are going to be perfectly flat just because you want them to be. This is especially true when working with scrap wood you’ve found, and it doesn’t matter whether that’s real wood that’s been allowed to sit around warping thanks to humidity or a placard of plywood that was never flat or even to begin with. All that matters is converting it into something useful, which is why an electric belt sander is so important. If the wood isn’t flat and pressing doesn’t help, a sander will.
Once you’re done cutting and finishing your wood, you’ll want to paint the surface. Use a uniform color and something that won’t distract from the games being played on said table. Green seems to be a popular color for such tables, whether they’re being used for playing cards or playing ping pong. Just don’t paint it black, whatever you do – that will make it next to impossible to see the shadows cast by flying ping pong balls, which in turn makes that game very difficult to play.
Let me just state this for the record. Where spending hours and hours in front of my PC and console are concerned, I get away with murder. This is not because the villains in front of me can only annihilate me virtually or because there are no consequences to my on-screen body count. I get away with murder because my endless hours immersed in my games are justified. I create and play games for a living. I also spend a great deal of time critically reviewing my competitors; I get paid for all of this. As my bread and butter, my gaming time is a priority.
At the cost of neglecting other areas of my life, do I feel guilty about this? Most of the time, no, but there are times when I pause for thought, mainly when weighing up what others have to say about the pros and cons of excessive gaming. After all, they are my customers too. At the risk of having to repeat myself (see some of my earlier posts for a recap on related concerns), I have been emphasizing the use of game consoles as an educational and training tool for quite a while.
Before I address the benefits of gaming in general, let me just quickly add my voice to previous concerns raised, mostly by kids’ parents. The overriding concern of parents and teachers alike is that young students spend far too much time playing games at the expense of their studies and being outdoors like healthy kids should. I concede my agreement with these concerns. So, kids, my word of advice today is; limit your playing time to just a couple of hours each day (if you must play) and only until you have fulfilled your daily responsibilities.
Educational and training benefits of gaming
Now to the educational benefits of gaming. Let me use a typical example from life. Learning to drive an automobile or motorcycle requires hours of training and practice. While you have the benefit of live experience, these practice sessions remain limited for a number of reasons. But as a training tool, I am willing to bet that promotional bodies such as Motorcyclist Life will agree that practicing necessary skills of co-ordination via a simulator will enhance the driving experience.
The same goes for other real life practices such as learning to fly a plane or handling firearms. Where young kids are concerned, video games can be used to stimulate their interest in their learning activities. Through the use of favorite cartoon characters, kids are encouraged to practice their reading and writing skills. Finally, let me offer just one more word to the uninitiated. Gaming is also a great way to release frustration. Killing made up characters is far better than committing murder or maiming someone in real life.
It’s a lot safer too, meaning that console operators will never need the use of protective men’s and women’s helmets. All they need guard against is losing their temper and falling off their chair.