With the help of advanced technology and popularity, the gaming industry has advanced and expanded rapidly over the years.
If we are looking for categorization of videos games, they are broadly divided into eight major categories:
These are fast paced and may contain a large amount of violence due to this. Action games are usually inappropriate for children. Such games fall under the category “M” (mature-rated). Examples are Halo, Star Wars, Jedi Knight and Enter the Matrix.
Adventure and Role Playing
These are normally not as graphic as action games and can take the player into surrealism and fantasy. Though adventure and role-playing games often contain violence, it is not found to be as intense as the violence in action games. Examples of this category are Borderlands 2, Final Fantasy, Legend of Mana and Billy Hatcher.
First Person Shooters
As the name implies, it is a game in which the player sees the action through the eyes of the character he is representing and involves the use of pistols or rifles to kill the enemy. Due to the violence involved in this genre of games, they are not suitable for young children. Examples of these games are “Half-Life, “Half-Life 2”, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and so on.
Construction and Management Simulation (CMS)
As the name suggests, in the games belonging to this genre, the players are expected to build, expand and manage imaginary projects and communities with very little resources. Examples of this genre include, “SimCity” and “Harvest Moon”.
Here the accent is on strategy rather than on violence and these games are slower which gives the player time for strategic thinking, resource management and planning to achieve victory. Most are warfare based and so violence is not completely absent. These games are not suitable for children. Some examples are Advanced Wars I & II, Civilization V and Crusader Kings II.
These are video or computer games that simulate real world situations under game settings. In this category, the three well-known games are Racing Simulators, Flight Simulators and Sims. There are lots of games in this class to entertain children. Some examples of simulation games are: Football Manager, Farming Simulator 2013, The Sims and Evil Genius.
The Platform Game or Platformer is consists of jumping between suspended platforms of varying heights or obstacles and sometimes both to move forward in the game. Some examples of Platformer are 40 Winks, Abuse, Action 52 and Adventure Island.
Puzzle video games are a class of games that require puzzle solving. The kinds of puzzles that need to be solved can involve many problem solving skills such as using logic, word completion sequence solving, strategy and pattern recognition. Some examples of Puzzle Video Games are Mario, Bejeweled 3, Cradle of Rome 2 and Hidden Objects.
While on the subject, let’s not forget Sports games such as NHL 13, and FIFA Soccer 13 and Arcade games such Chicken Shoot 1, Toy Story Mania and Angry Birds to name a few.
Nowadays, video games are enjoyed by a wide cross-section of our society, from toddlers to grandparents and these have been accepted by everyone as a good manner of entertainment and seen to be better than watching TV as it requires the viewer’s participation and interaction.
The general feeling is that video games do not provide any benefits to the player and especially so in the case of children.
Contrary to this belief, there are many benefits in allowing children to play certain types of games. Most important of these benefits is the development of:
· Cognitive thinking skills
· Fine motor skills
· Real-time decision-making abilities
· Hand-eye coordination
· Cooperative playing skills
Keeping video games out of the reach of children can only deprive them of these benefits.
A child’s imagination can be stimulated through role-playing and adventure games. Even if some of these games can seem tasteless due to its graphic nature and violence, they can play a positive and important role in a child’s development by promoting teamwork, building confidence and improving motor skills. Playing such video games will only provide a child with a healthy means of expression.
Certain video games are believed to teach children high level thinking skills which they would benefit from in the future.
Now that we have looked at the benefits for children, let’s look at what benefits video games hold for the rest of us.
Research into the pros and cons of video games are being conducted by various bodies including universities in some parts of the world and the result is that the pros outweigh the cons in respect of benefits.
When playing video games, you would need to react quickly and take split second decisions in order to succeed in the given task. It is believed that this kind of practice would provide benefits in real life where you would be able react with speed and take quick decisions.
Brain scientists have discovered that a certain driving video game, created by a research and development team at the University of California in San Francisco could improve the short-term memory and long-term focus of older adults.
It was found that immersion in a game distracts the mind from pain and discomfort. Due to this reason, some hospitals have started to suggest that children and others undergoing painful treatments play games to reduce their distress and anxiety.
Some video games have provided improvement in “Cognitive Flexibility”, which is the ability to switch quickly from one task to another.
Researchers from North Carolina State University found a link between playing video games and mental well-being among the elderly. They found that those citizens who played video games, even occasionally, experienced a state of well- being and happiness.
Gaming can also improve family relationships, as some of these games can and should be played together.
According to some studies conducted at the University of Rochester, people playing certain titles of video games have shown improvements in tests in the following areas:
The only thing a video game player or his or her family needs to ensure is that it does not become addictive in any way. A video game player shouldn’t end up spending hours on end playing games and losing track of time and place and while neglecting duties, personal chores and responsibilities.
Another thing that the parents of minors need to ensure is that their kids get access only to educational or similar games which are suitable for their age group and the good news is that there’s a huge selection of games available that are appropriate for all ages.
A video game content rating is a system is available in many countries and they are used to classify video games into suitability-related age groups with respect to its contents which, if followed, will help to limit the negative aspects of some of the games.
Finally, if video game players are able to play in moderation, and stick only to the categories of games suitable for their respective ages, they can derive a number of benefits as cited above.