3 Things Games Are Proven to Do Well

 

When we talk about using games to create change,

it can be easy to take that statement as a matter of common sense. Games are fun, right? Why not use something fun to accomplish something hard? And some of that common sense, well, makes sense. When there is an activity that we entertaining we want to do more of it and so creating to equation of games + annoying thing = better thing seems obvious. However, when those claims become generalized, hyperbolized, and popularized, it’s important to take a step back and examine what can actually be proven true.

Any technology that claims it can simply make people “smarter” or “better” (...faster, stronger) should be met with a hearty helping of fully justified skepticism, as with any system that infers it can “save the world,” “solve every problem,” or even just “fix something that needs fixing.”

The truth is the panacea pitch always deserves a proper prodding and probing. So let’s take a look: just what is it that games do well? How have they been proven to benefit people? And what methods make those proven benefits possible?

When we talk about games it’s critical to remember the intrinsic value of Play. Play is something that holds critical meaning to all of us from our earliest age. We find play personally in a sense of freedom and lightness that comes from simply doing for the sake of it, and more scientifically, we can hear David Attenborough narrating two wolf pups wrestling while he explains all of the valuable things play teaches them about the lives ahead of them. Play is so vital to our development that it is protected as a human right by the UN Convention.

The cognitive, emotional, and social benefits of play are foundational to our experience as humans, and indeed are foundational to many forms of life around us. In an upcoming article GameTheory will be diving deeper into just what we mean by play and how it benefits us, but for the sake of this piece we’ll be looking specifically at what benefits games, and even more specifically video games, can provide.  

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Cognitive Benefits

What are the cognitive benefits that video games have been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on.

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Mental Health

Exploring the tested mental health benefits of video game approaches.

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Motivating Learning

How do games motivate learning? What benefits have been tested?



 
Marguerite Dibble