Are you playing enough “Fortnite?”

JAMIE CHEN / AGGIE

Why playing video games isn’t a bad thing

You’re skydiving; you’re free-falling at top speeds until your parachute deploys. Except, once you land, panic sets in, as you need to find a gun before someone kills you. It’s called “Fortnite,” and everyone’s playing it.

Imagine if someone took “The Hunger Games” and turned it into a video game — that’s “Fortnite.” It’s somewhat of an epidemic that has swept the nation, and for good reason. As of Jan. 2018, the game has been played by over 40 million people in the U.S. and has even broken gaming records, with a peak of 3.4 million concurrent players. The game is not only free to play, but also extremely fun, frustrating and addicting.

Yet there is still negative stigma associated with video games, even though there have been countless studies showing their beneficial qualities.

Video games are mainly portrayed in the media as a non-social activity. However, video games are highly interactive, as they allow you to play and communicate with people all over the world. Nonetheless, the main reason most people play video games is because they are fun and a wonderful source of enjoyment.

Social interaction is an important aspect of video games because it is the perfect environment to create and maintain friendships. Playing video games with others in a team setting promotes teamwork and designates responsibility. Moreover, video games give players the option to creatively express themselves in ways they otherwise may not feel comfortable doing in the real world.

For the most part, video games are also seen as time-wasters with no inherent value or positive qualities. It is unusual to think that video games could have positive effects on the brain since it’s a very popular idea that video games turn your brain to “mush.”

But video games that require a lot of thinking and decision-making exercise the area of the brain called the orbitofrontal cortex. In this case, fast-paced games require players to think critically about their in-game actions and decisions to react quickly and creatively to different challenges.
In short, the skills honed while playing video games can translate into the real world. For instance, in a video game, the player has to maneuver through a world of obstacles and other demanding challenges in split-second timing in order to avoid failure. This applies to activities like biking to campus or class. When biking, the biker is faced with many obstacles, like pedestrians, other bikers and vehicles on the road. It’s therefore necessary to be aware of one’s environment because it’s constantly changing and uncertain.

In a video game, the gamer is immersed in the computer-simulated world and is responsible for controlling and making decisions; thus, video games have a metacognitive function also built into them. In brief, metacognition refers to the ability to think about your own thinking. In this case, video games offer gamers an insight into their own thought processes and as a result reinforce critical thinking skills.

It’s no surprise that gamers also have an advanced capability to multitask because they can focus on more objects without getting confused. Gaming’s repetitive nature hones in on gamers’ fine motor skills in games that require a high degree of accuracy and precision because, in order to become better at any game, it’s instrumental to keep learning and practicing.

Video games are becoming an increasingly popular educational resource in today’s technologically-dependent world. Video games are incredibly cheap and can be readily dispersed to people all over the globe who have access to a computer. According to Forbes, 74 percent of K-8 teachers implemented digital games into their curriculum in 2013.

One of the many advantages of teachers using video games in the classroom is that they can utilize various math, language and science games to further develop children’s language proficiency, counting skills and literacy. In addition, when children play video games with others, it teaches them important social skills, such as sharing and how to work together effectively.

Nevertheless, games like “Fortnight” are still privy to the negative stereotypes of videos games. Good Morning America, for example, recently presented a segment: “‘Fortnite’ frenzy sparks parental concerns.” Even though it’s a popular misconception that video games are harmful, people of all ages should become aware of their positive potential.

I play “Fortnite” because it’s fun. The game is simple with just the right amount of difficulty. It’s incredibly challenging to win since the odds are stacked against you. So when you finally do win a game, it’s incredibly rewarding. At their core, video games are fun stress relievers. They offer gamers the option to freely express themselves and get lost in a virtual world of immense possibilities.

Today, video games have become routine and a regular part of daily life. Thus, it’s important to embrace all of video games’ positive qualities and applications. Video games are already being used in schools and the workforce. After all, despite there being a few studies that illustrate the negative effects of video games, there are innumerable other studies that show the tremendous and wonderful benefits that they have on a person. In essence, it’s no doubt that video games are not only a popular source of entertainment, but are also hugely beneficial to a person’s mental health and well-being.

 

 

Written by: Alejandro Lara — amlara@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.