University Study Shows Benefits of Teenage Gamers

University Study Shows Benefits of Teenage Gamers

World of Warcraft raid group

Apparently videogames don't rot your brain - they actually make you a better citizen.

Despite how much the gaming medium has matured over the years, there's still a rather unfortunate stigma attached to the hobby. Countless parents see games as an egregious waste of time, if not an explicit danger to impressionable children and teenagers. Kathy Sanford, an education professor at the University of Victoria, begs to differ. Sanford led a research project that followed a group of teenagers over five years of life as gamers, and she found that spending hours and hours in virtual worlds can actually help teens learn to better navigate the challenges of reality.

Some of the points that Sanford cites are common sense to experienced gamers, but her results may help to explain modern gaming to those with an outside perspective. Among the educational aspects of videogames are constant moral choices (which led to higher civic engagement and understanding of critical decisions like voting) and leadership opportunities in online games where the unique strengths of different players need to mesh in order to succeed. Sanford also noted that schools should change their strategies if they want to engage these generations of "digital learners." Today's gaming teens are very good at learning from immediate feedback loops, so the education system's more drawn-out process of traditional grading may not be stimulating students optimally.

Sanford says that it's important to try to understand this emerging way of thinking, even if parents and teachers don't fully understand it. Videogames can help teens learn some skills, but now more than ever, that education needs to be reinforced with context. "It's kind of scary for adults," Sanford says, "because we don't really know what's going on ... So we have to talk to our kids about what they are doing in an interested in genuine way. Some of the characters are problematic to me, there is a lot of sexism, but we need to talk to kids about them, not just ban them."

Source: The Globe and Mail

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I know vidja games aren't always a positive force for everything but anything that makes them get shit on less is all good iin my books.

Although I'm glad games are getting positive press again, the last thing I want is for my college to be Gamified, "you wrote a 10 page essay, you earned 100XP" yeah, dont do that.

Something that makes you think is good for you?
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Colbster94:
Although I'm glad games are getting positive press again, the last thing I want is for my college to be Gamified, "you wrote a 10 page essay, you earned 100XP" yeah, dont do that.

The final boss is your master's thesis.

Any links to the actual research?

frizzlebyte:

Colbster94:
Although I'm glad games are getting positive press again, the last thing I want is for my college to be Gamified, "you wrote a 10 page essay, you earned 100XP" yeah, dont do that.

The final boss is your master's thesis.

And the super-secret ultra-boss is your doctorate defense.

OT: ...Yay? This won't stop people from pointing at hopelessly addicted WoW players and saying that the bad outweighs the good. Small steps, I guess.

lacktheknack:

frizzlebyte:

Colbster94:
Although I'm glad games are getting positive press again, the last thing I want is for my college to be Gamified, "you wrote a 10 page essay, you earned 100XP" yeah, dont do that.

The final boss is your master's thesis.

And the super-secret ultra-boss is your doctorate defense.

OT: ...Yay? This won't stop people from pointing at hopelessly addicted WoW players and saying that the bad outweighs the good. Small steps, I guess.

LOL. I actually thought about saying doctorate defense. Yours worked out better. ;)

And, if one actually is addicted to WoW, I'd tend to agree on the bad outweighing the good. :)

OT: On the whole, I find this study interesting, but I question how much can be applied to a broad audience. It seems to suggest that there are some behavioral and thought-process modifications that result from gaming, but I can also see a chicken and egg problem here. For example, I know that I tend to think in a linear, checkpoint-like fashion when I am accomplishing a task, which I sometimes attribute to gaming. However, perhaps I am drawn to gaming because I think this way; even in open-world, sandbox games I tend to accomplish things in a step-by-step fashion.

Interesting study, nonetheless. Gets one to thinking, for sure.

Someday in the future the education system is going to get fixed so it's actually effective for all students, less stressful, and work with our new generation's ADD. And when I does, I'm going to look back at my wasted years of ineffective schooling and be jealous

Cognimancer:
Among the educational aspects of videogames are constant moral choices

Pfft hahahaha. Yeah, those real deep morale choice systems. Like how in inFamous you can be either Lightning Jesus or Satan. We sure are teaching our kids the true black and white nature of morality.

Seriously though, while I'm sure playing games has positive effects (reaction time, the aforementioned leadership skills, boosted self-esteem) I'm going to play devils advocate and point out that this is only one study, and there has been plenty of studies showing negative affects of gaming as well that get shot down due to the "just another biased study" defense. No need to make a big deal out of one study just because it happens to be on our side for a change.

Phrozenflame500:

Cognimancer:
Among the educational aspects of videogames are constant moral choices

Pfft hahahaha. Yeah, those real deep morale choice systems. Like how in inFamous you can be either Lightning Jesus or Satan. We sure are teaching our kids the true black and white nature of morality.

Seriously though, while I'm sure playing games has positive effects (reaction time, the aforementioned leadership skills, boosted self-esteem) I'm going to play devils advocate and point out that this is only one study, and there has been plenty of studies showing negative affects of gaming as well that get shot down due to the "just another biased study" defense. No need to make a big deal out of one study just because it happens to be on our side for a change.

I think the reason those moral choices work isn't because kids see it and go "awesome! So this is how morality works? Got it!" rather it's most likely they see such choices and after a while start wondering why there isn't a third choice, what other ways of solving these situations there'd be and that's the real benefit.

Those choices being that horribly black and white could just actually be a plus-point for this. Because it doesn't take much for the player to start thinking on his own about alternate solutions.

All those threads we've had about alternate morality systems in games where it isn't just good vs evil but entirely different systems, based on much more complex factors are all the result of these black and white systems, people weren't satisfied with them so they got thinking on their own.

Now I do agree with you that the Escapist most definitely has a rather obvious bias when it comes to game-related research and that this is indeed just a single study, certainly not to be seen as the ultimate truth. But it's still interesting to hear and think about.

So, +1 point in our basket. whos counting? f course people will take extreme examples like wow addicts that die of starvation but you can pick extreme examples in any group.

frizzlebyte:

Colbster94:
Although I'm glad games are getting positive press again, the last thing I want is for my college to be Gamified, "you wrote a 10 page essay, you earned 100XP" yeah, dont do that.

The final boss is your master's thesis.

so im fighting the final boss battle today? heck, where are my potions!

Makes you a better citizen? Have these researchers never been on Xbox Live?

It depends on what games they're playing. Reading books is supposed to make you "better" as well but not if all you read is Harry Potter and Twilight on a loop forever.

Like anything else games simply have the potential to stimulate peoples' minds in positive ways. Television is great unless you're watching hours upon hours of Jersey Shore or something.

SecondPrize:
Makes you a better citizen? Have these researchers never been on Xbox Live?

you can be a prick on xbl while still being a good citizen. I rant and rage online, but I vote, obey the law, and go outta the way to help people

Sorry, all I read was modern gamers have a short attention span and need constant instant gratification.

Colbster94:
Although I'm glad games are getting positive press again, the last thing I want is for my college to be Gamified, "you wrote a 10 page essay, you earned 100XP" yeah, dont do that.

I don't think they were talking gamifing, just crating faster feedback and retire. traditionally in school do an assignment get it back up to a month later and the classed never encourages you to look at it again. Than you tend not to see its effect on your grade for months after that. They sound like they want smaller quick to grade things that once corrected you have to fix more like the failure leads to repeat that video games have.

Phrozenflame500:
Seriously though, while I'm sure playing games has positive effects (reaction time, the aforementioned leadership skills, boosted self-esteem) I'm going to play devils advocate and point out that this is only one study, and there has been plenty of studies showing negative affects of gaming as well that get shot down due to the "just another biased study" defense. No need to make a big deal out of one study just because it happens to be on our side for a change.

The number of studies that come out saying that gaming isn't negative significantly outnumbers the number that say it's a negative influence.

So it's probably more fair to claim "bias" here than you may think.

Raiyan 1.0:
Sorry, all I read was modern gamers have a short attention span and need constant instant gratification.

Kind of reminds me of this:

People really like to agree with things that fit their preconceived notions.

All of these studies that get mentioned all the time would be so much better for video games if someone did something like... I don't know, publish all the findings in a well written scientific work rather each one standing on it's own. I read books all the time about things like Neuroscience and Biology and Genetics/Epigenetics. The common thread is that people who are members of those fields then take the accumulated studies of their peers and write books about them, doing their best to make a complete picture of this aspect or that aspect. Hell, there have been multiple books written about how video games are bad for you. One more study mentioned in the back pages of journal or on a website isn't going to convince anyone. What's worse is the story is in the form of an interview with no mention of the scientific process used to tell us how the authors conclusion was derived.

But, I digress. Anything is helpful I suppose. There are significant up and downsides to almost every activity. Videogames can get in the way of other beneficial activities. And the sheer number of people who I know in horrible physical shape because they play videogames and nothing else on their free time in combination with a terrible diet makes it all look very bad. The truth is, when that is common place, it seems very unlikely that the majority of people will embrace it as an OK pass time, let alone a beneficial one. I know no one said doing nothing but that is what people should do, but it certainly would help the cause if more people actually took care of themselves.

Here's the elusive and magic secret to having a healthy relationship with video games... moderation. Wow.

Cognimancer:
*snip*

Would it be possible for the escapists' journalists to dig a little more to find the original papers on which these articles are based? There's been a few now where I really want to read the original research but can't find it.

 

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