Updated: Jun 1, 2020
OK, this is not some new CV-19 acronym…but it is indirectly tied to the pandemic, at least from my POV (had to throw another one in!)
TG4VG is Mike Flecker shorthand for:
Thank Goodness for Video Games!
Over the last few months, the world has pivoted to a stay-at-home, shelter-in-place model to mitigate the spread of the pandemic. Many people can continue working, but others, sadly have been furloughed or fired. And students have had to adapt, as much as is possible, to online teaching or home schooling. This don’t-leave-home-unless-it’s-for-essentials approach has resulted an OMG-I’m-so-bored-and-going-stir-crazy mindset among a lot of normally sane folks.
So, it’s with no surprise that binge watching Netflix has become A. Thing. But when you finished all 30 episodes of Ozark (in one weekend), you may have then turned to online video gaming (recent statistics confirm this). Maybe for the first time, or maybe you simply added a new game to your repertoire. Or perhaps you smashed your previous PR and advanced two or three levels in your beloved favorite (kudos, BTW!). Or you might have even taught your kids a thing or two about PAC-MAN. Ha!
With this in mind, I’d like to encourage your TG4VG behavior with all the reasons your intensified gaming habit is a good thing. Let’s begin with an old-school video lesson on:
If you’re my age or thereabouts, that probably brought back a few fun memories – not about video gaming, of course, since it didn’t exist back in the dark ages! Now on to more in-depth WIIFM (what’s in it for me) benefits of playing video games.
Unfamiliar environments, unexpected challenges, and developing new skills are all inherent in most types of video games. In creation games (think The Sims), your imagination drives how you set up family units, build homes and create interesting universes. You control your destiny by writing your own storyline and changing course as you see fit. In action games, you may be brainstorming a secret mission in Call of Duty or out-maneuvering yo gangsta foes in GTA – either way, you have to get creative with problem solving – hmmm, a skill we highly value here at Idea Planet.
Many video games feature historical or fantasy settings that open our minds to new worlds, cultures and beliefs. You can even immerse yourself in very different, albeit real-life, scenarios like space exploration, architecture, jungle trekking, etc. Expanding our mental horizons can often spark new ideas and create interesting mental connections that previously weren’t viable.
While this may seem counterintuitive, computer gaming has been shown to improve your vision. Because you’re intently focused on all the minutiae of your surroundings while concentrating on anything that moves on your screen, you tend to be better able to distinguish nuances in color (researchers call this visual contrast sensitivity) or notice things in real life that others may not, improving your spatial attention.
Even people diagnosed with lazy eye (amblyopia, a condition whereby weak muscles surrounding the eye result in reduced vision) can benefit from game play. How? Studies show that when the good eye is covered, the muscles in the lazy eye work harder, are strengthened, and can show improvement in eyesight.
And, the results weren’t as dramatic for other activities. Isn’t that incredible?
It’s no surprise that strategy games (those that require players to quickly assess their circumstances) help develop functional thinking and higher level decision-making skills. By predicting opponent moves, recognizing patterns, evaluating options and planning next steps, players become more and more adept at strategizing. Learning from past mistakes and adapting are skills easily transferable to off-screen time.
Even memorization can be improved by game play. For instance, on a very basic level, you have to learn and remember which button combo on the controller does what for each of the complex in-game actions – and you can’t stop to think about it or you’ll be a goner. Oops, gotta start over again…
If you want the science behind it, check out this article that summarizes findings by researchers Adam Eichenbaum, Daphne Bavelier and C. Shawn Green on the lasting positive effects of video games on basic mental processes.
A video game corollary benefit to strategic learning is hand-eye coordination. Action games require real-time movement, decisiveness and quick reflexes. Your response to a situation has to immediately sync what you see to the movement of your hand on the controller. Any sort of delay and you might experience a painful outcome. Oops, I did it again! (Wait, isn’t that a Britney Spears song?) Sorry, I digress.
Get it Together
Quite simply, organization. Many RPGs (another acronym!) require players to manage inventory, sort skill sets, keep track of character levels, track time, etc. Complex games, like Dungeons and Dragons or Farm Simulator, for example, involve in-depth multi-tasking, resource prioritization and management to stay on top of your game (pun intended).
In other words, no phone calculators. Whether it’s keeping track of your power, calculating the cost of an avatar uniform or reviewing stats for athletes in sports games, math is intrinsically part of most video games. Some are obviously more complicated than others. But as we all know, when it comes to brain cells, you have to keep them active and engaged to stay sharp. And, well, video games make math fun (I can’t believe I just used “math” and “fun” in the same sentence)!
Now this is something we’ve all been craving lately given CV-19 has mandated a certain level of social distancing. Connecting with others is part of our DNA (well, not literally) and is largely the reason video game activity has recently spiked. Gaming provides online forums, live chats, teamwork and overall camaraderie. This greater sense of belonging mitigates feelings of isolation. It’s a safe way to interact with others, stay “close” to friends, meet new people, let off steam, and have fun. Sign me up for that!!
So, on that happy thought, let’s end this TG4VG blog with a hysterical, LOL video on the topic that super video game geeks can readily relate to!
Play hard and stay safe, my friends!