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Opinion

Video games prove to be beneficial despite previous negative perceptions

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September 20, 2012

Video games have been given a bad name for many years. Why is that? It is because of negative perceptions. Parents might think that their kids sitting down and playing video games such as “Mario Kart,” is bad for them because of causing difficulty in paying attention to tasks and possibly slowing thinking down. However, researchers have found that playing video games, a pastime for many people, in moderation is healthy and beneficial.

Researchers have found that people who play video games are better at information-processing, and it is good for dexterity. Also, people who play video games have better hand-eye coordination than those who do not play video games. People who play video games are also said to be better focused. Increase in focus could be a benefit because a person is required to pay close attention to the tasks and goals of the games.

Writer Emily Anthes of Scientific American Mind magazine, wrote an article entitled “Six Ways to Boost Brain Power.” The article states that there have been studies done in which surgeons play video games. The studies have concluded that using the joysticks on video game controllers improves surgeons’ dexterity, leading them to be more successful at performing surgery. Anthes states, “Surgeons who spend at least a few hours a week playing video games make one-third fewer errors in the operating room than non-gaming doctors do.”

The notion of joysticks improving dexterity can also apply to treating physical conditions such as cerebral palsy that affect movement, dexterity and fi ne motor skills. If a person has diffi culty with hand movement, working with a joystick can help them move their hands smoothly. This can lead to success at tasks like holding a pencil.

Despite generally positive findings, the idiom, “bad name” does apply to video games such as “Call of Duty” that can lead to psychological desensitisation to real-life violence. This issue is important and is considered by researchers but even though there are negative aspects to video games such as desensitisation, much of research emphasizes the benefi ts and positive aspects, challenging popular beliefs.

Who would have thought it? Researchers have found scientific evidence that, by and large, is changing the perspective on video games from negative to positive. That is especially good news for people who struggle with movement, dexterity and fi ne motor skills. Using video game controllers can help make performing tasks in those areas, easier and fun.

Emma Wagner is a UW-River Falls student.