Video games offer many benefits for players

By Austin Wood Smith-Cotton High School

December 25, 2013

Playing video games is like being the main character in a really good book I can’t put down. I can learn, experience and live through some of the most interactive things man has ever created. You could say I have a deep respect for video games; they made me who I am today. And am I violent? Well, not really.

I know it’s not the best starting argument, but honestly, it’s the one that matters most to me. If I’m not affected negatively by video games, then that means several other people aren’t. And that means the problem already isn’t as large as some media outlets make it out to be.

For instance, the people at point out that, “(W)e don’t need science to prove to us that violence is junk food for a growing brain (and adult brains too).” The fact is you do need science to prove what you’re trying so hard to make people believe. I know the parenting advice squad has good intentions, but this is just one of the many articles the Internet is jammed with that are full of misunderstanding by people who don’t actually play and enjoy video games.

Believe it or not, there are positive side effects of gaming, and not just the “hand-eye coordination” theory (I say that is ridiculous, I can barely type). This is my and many people’s struggle — the perception of video games by people who don’t play them. There is another side to the argument.

Everyone has hobbies they enjoy. They help people enjoy life and thoroughly understand what we do well. Anything from origami to yoga can be considered a hobby, and video games are in that category as well. People play video games for several reasons. Some enjoy the challenge, others like going through the experience, and many love the fact they can just kick back and relax for a bit. The point is all hobbies are something to be enjoyed. And all hobbies are something that can be abused.

Self-management is needed to enjoy anything in this world, and that’s why I contend video games aren’t the problem, the people who play them sometimes are. More than half a billion people play for at least an hour a day, according to Jane McGonigal, an author and game designer. It only makes sense a few of those people would abuse games. It’s ridiculous that a few bad nuts can change the public perception of what video games do. If time is taken to observe the positives, the realization will come that games can be really beneficial.

Many games include complex puzzles that require quick problem solving in order to continue. They both challenge and speed up the mind of the player while still providing an entertaining experience. On the other side, you sometimes have moral choices that test the mind of the player and force them to consider just what actions they are taking.

Online multiplayer functions give both children and adults chances to make friends and be social. A study by the journal Molecular Psychiatry strongly suggests a link between playing certain games and increasing things such as memory and language in the brain.

Unfortunately, games get targeted because of the many violent things that can occur in them. I agree in some aspects, but is the violence a problem? Not as I see it.

I get on the system, play a game, and get off the system. I don’t keep living my virtual life in my real one because that would be insane. The only people who do that are naturally aggressive in the first place. The game doesn’t make them that aggressive; they were just born that way.

A study by the Yale School of Medicine showed that problematic gamers only made up 5.8 percent of boys and 3 percent of girls out of 4,028 surveyed teens.

Samuel Sarver, 15, said he enjoys the feeling he gets from video games and likes playing online with friends. He contends many people were violent before video games even existed. His main opinion of why games are perceived so negatively is directly related to just how violent some games appear these days. To an outsider, the violence of games has been increasing. Just like other forms of entertainment, they aren’t meant to be copied in real life.

Some adults have been gaming since before I was born. Take Brian Pettis, for example. He’s a 30-year-old Sedalia resident who has been playing since he was 5. Pettis noted the thorough rating system the industry employs today. It is designed to keep young children from playing extremely mature games, and yet many times parents ignore these and buy the game anyway.

Pettis said, “If a child is unable to differentiate between shooting polygonal Nazis and shooting up a school, there was a serious failure on the part of the parents at some point.”

Pettis said he thinks games help socialization issues as well: “I think it provides an outlet as well as a sense of community to people who would otherwise not have either of those things in real life. For every kid who has a copy of Call Of Duty in his room that did something stupid with a gun, there are thousands of kids who maybe aren’t too popular and get picked on at school every day who go home and boot up their Xbox or PC and spend hours with their online friends doing something they love to do with nobody judging them for the clothes they wear or any of that inconsequential stuff that gets shoved on them every day. It’s kind of an awesome thought.”

From a small to large idea, games can help the world in ways we are only just beginning to understand. If in the future people can stop seeing the minorities and start looking at the grand scale, I believe the world of video games can be added as one of the world’s major benefits. It gives experience, exploration, education, fun and enjoyment in ways that no other media can provide. It is truly a staple of the genius of man and should be respected as a pastime for anyone.


This week, the Sedalia Democrat will publish stories written by students in the Journalistic Writing class at Smith-Cotton High School. Over the past few months, these young reporters learned to research their topics, conduct interviews and write in journalistic styles.