By Phoebe Lim

After school, youth and children meander home and, after a quick greeting to their parents, switch on their PlayStation 4 and launch into a new video game. Rather than spending their afternoons gathered outside with friends, teenagers fire up their consoles, chat over headsets, and beam over their latest victories in Overwatch. Video games now dominate the lives of youth, crowding their minds with the latest storylines, characters, and gameplay, but is it really a cause for concern? While uncontrolled, excessive something can certainly induce negative results and addiction, a moderated amount of time spent playing video games actually produces the reverse effects—increased cognition, problem-solving skills, and memory. Elements integrated into modern video games often emphasize quick reflexes and quicker thinking rather than hindering mental ability, contrary to common assumptions that these games impede a person’s general health. Playing video games in moderation influences the brain development and functions of youth and adults, and it is capable of producing overwhelmingly positive results.

Pong, the first computer game to release, awed the world with its simple mechanics and objective, setting the precedent for subsequent games and the ever-growing industry. Now, approximately 150 million people only counting America start their consoles, launch a new game, and delve into an unparalleled universe of mythical gods or colossal beings to battle (Nichols). Primarily, the industry appeals to teenagers and adults, but a substantial amount of games now edify and entertain children by coaching new languages or cultivating empathy. Ever since the success of Pong, video games advance with the latest graphics, embracing unique storylines and dynamic gameplay for all ages.

Once a highly-anticipated game, Spider-Man PS4 focuses on a central theme: Be Greater. Peter Parker navigates his complicated life after 8 years of being Spider-Man, hoping to squash his foes by striving for greatness.

Contrary to popular beliefs that video games encourage vicious behavior, they actually aid in reducing stress and anxiety, regulating emotions, and encourage empathy rather than aggression. Studies have shown how children who play video games in moderation show elevated levels of empathy (Loria) and youth show increased cognitive ability such as memory and spatial intelligence (Granic). Furthermore, video games heighten creativity, emphasize time management, and exercise selective attention.

The constant necessity for a variety of skills in video games allows children, teenagers, adults, and even the elderly to develop and hone their skills. As with any hobby, the nature and demands of video games foster expertise instead of harm. Although there is data to show increased levels of aggression, they are marginal and do not impel children, youth, and adults to become violent. The brains of young, impressionable adolescents also display higher stress levels, especially with violent or taxing games. Yet it is important to note that these signs manifest primarily because of excessive gaming.

While video games commonly base their worlds in post-apocalyptic worlds and zombie-infested cities, they also give gamers the ability to traverse New York as Spider-Man, eradicating crime and becoming better, or walk the Nine Worlds as a god of war whose only goal is to be better for his son. Not only does this variety of perspectives allow cultivation of more empathy, people can learn compassion—how to relate to the struggles and goals of another even if they are fictional characters (Granic). Research shows how frequent exposure to such positive experiences allows plenty of children to digest and regulate their emotions (Bharanidharan).

Video games have progressed from simple mechanics to a time of violence-dominated games to a new era of story-driven games. Unquestionably, they possess much more substance than smashing random buttons to get the best combo hits. Therefore, video games also have the tremendous potential to influence the young minds of the masses. They teach ethics. They beget hope. They proffer a glimpse at another life, another perspective. They teach us how to get back up and be better—the mantra of the beloved Spider-Man.

Sources:

Bharanidharan, Sadhana. “No Link Between Violent Video Games And Adult Aggression.” Medical Daily, Medical Daily, 15 Mar. 2018,

www.medicaldaily.com/violent-video-games-long-term-adult-aggression-are-not-linked-423101.

Bharanidharan, Sadhana. “How Playing Video Games Affects The Brain.” Medical Daily, Medical Daily, 29 Nov. 2018,

www.medicaldaily.com/how-playing-video-games-affects-brain-428735.

Granic, Isabela, et al. “The Benefits of Playing Video Games.” American Psychologist, American Psychological Association (APA), Jan. 2014,

www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-a0034857.pdf

Loria, Kevin. “How Playing Video Games Affects Your Body and Brain.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 19 June 2018,

www.businessinsider.com/video-games-and-violence-2018-3#the-psychological-effects-of-video-games-might-vary-depending-on-how-much-you-play-17.

Nichols, Hannah. “How Video Games Affect the Brain.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 10 July 2017,

www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318345.php.

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