Video Games, Learning and Physical Health (page 2)
Consider the following quote, “Games are widely used as educational tools, not just for pilots, soldiers and surgeons, but also in schools and businesses ... Games require players to construct hypotheses, solve problems, develop strategies, learn the rules of the in-game world through trial and error. Gamers must also be able to juggle several different tasks, evaluate risks and make quick decisions…. Playing games is, thus, an ideal form of preparation for the workplace of the 21st century, as some forward-thinking firms are already starting to realize.” 1 There is some evidence that supports this powerful statement. For instance, the National Institute on Media and the Family (see http://www.mediafamily.org/facts/facts_effect.shtml) notes the following benefits of playing video games:
- Video game playing introduces children to computer technology;
- Games can give practice in following directions;
- Some games provide practice in problem solving and logic;
- Games can provide practice in use of fine motor and spatial skills;
- Games can provide occasions for adult and child to play together;
- Players are introduced to information technology;
- Some games have therapeutic applications with patients;
- Games are entertaining.
One article by the Associated Press quipped that, “All those years on the couch playing Nintendo and PlayStation appear to be paying off for surgeons.” The article goes on to explain that researchers found that doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37 percent fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and performed the task 27 % faster than their counterparts who did not play video games. 2 Similarly, the BBC news reported in May of 2003 that United States scientists have found that regular players of shoot-em-up games have much better visual skills than most of the population. The researchers have shown that gamers were particularly good at spotting details in busy, confusing scenes and could cope with more distractions than average. The two scientists also found that with a little game playing the visual skills of anyone can be improved. 3
Video Games and Physical Health
Other reports point to the benefits of video game playing as well. One in particular that has gained national attention for its positive impact on physical development is Dance Dance Revolution (or DDR). You have undoubtedly seen kids playing DDR in mall arcades, movie theaters lobbies, and now, thanks to the release of the home version, at home and in school. DDR is typically played on a dance pad with four arrow panels: left, down, up, and right. These panels are pressed using the player’s feet, in response to arrows that appear on the screen in front of the player. The arrows are synchronized to the general rhythm or beat of a chosen song, and success is dependent on the player’s ability to time and position his or her steps accordingly. In Dance Dance Revolution, a player must move his or her feet to a set pattern, stepping in time to the general rhythm or beat of a song. During normal gameplay, arrows scroll upwards from the bottom of the screen and pass over stationary, transparent arrows near the top (referred to as the “guide arrows” or “receptors”). When the scrolling arrows overlap the stationary ones, the player must step on the corresponding arrows on the dance platform. Successfully hitting the arrows in time with the music fills the “Dance Gauge” or life bar while failure to do so drains it.
DDR is often criticized as being rigid and bearing little resemblance to actual dancing. 4 To me, kids playing DDR come off as a bit like someone who is hypnotized and who is having a mild yet rhythmic seizure below the waist. Nonetheless, the game seems to promote various skills and is one solution for fighting child obesity which has captured the interest of schools. (For example, at the start of 2006, DDR games are being phased in as part of a fitness program in West Virginia’s 756 state schools). 5
More recently, the Nintendo Wii (pronounced “we” not “why”) gaming console has been hailed as one viable solution to the growing problem of obesity among children. Unlike traditional hand-held video games, where users sit on the couch exercising little more than their thumbs, the Wii features digital sensors that let users virtually play the game. In Wii Sports, a game that comes with the console, users mimic the motions used in sports like bowling, tennis and baseball. In other words, the game may be virtual, but the physical exertion is very real. 6 In fact, one online fitness website, traineo.com, has partnered with Nintendo to develop a Wii Fitness Package (see http://wii.groups.traineo.com/).
Add your own comment
Today on Education.com
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- The Five Warning Signs of Asperger's Syndrome
- What Makes a School Effective?
- Child Development Theories
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Bullying in Schools
- Test Problems: Seven Reasons Why Standardized Tests Are Not Working
- Should Your Child Be Held Back a Grade? Know Your Rights
- First Grade Sight Words List