The media have been going back and forth on the issue of video games for years now. Do they make people violent, or do they provide therapeutic relief for people with bounds of pent-up aggression? Are video games a fledgling art form, or just a mindless diversion? Do games rot the brain, or improve its capacity to learn?
I don’t think the answers are clear-cut. There are so many different types of games on the market, it’s impossible to make blanket statements on their utility.
Are books good for you? Well, are we talking about harlequin romance novels or literary fiction here? Can gorgeous summer action flicks like Pacific Rim fire up the same parts of your brain as a psychological movie like Pi?
I believe some games at least have the potential to do a lot of good in the world. On a personal scale, games continue to inspire and enrich lives (no, really!), and research is showing some promising results for using video games as a teaching tool.
Note that most of the studies in the article are based on video games made just for entertainment. Imagine if devs made games designed to exploit the beneficial aspects of the medium while still remaining true to what makes gaming so fun! I think the cultural and educational aspects would be immense, with the potential to change the world on the scale of the Gutenberg printing press.
Even with all that, I think games can do so much more. From simple games like Free Rice to games like Foldit which attempt to literally unravel the nature of our beings, games are already showing unprecedented potential after only 40 years in the limelight. And we've only just begun.
As a gamer and an aspiring dev, I’ll definitely be coming back to this topic in the future. Drop me a line by email if you have a video game-related topic that deserves to be written about and I’ll see what I can do!