Posted by: Brad Stanford | September 3, 2009

Video Games Are Useful

I find it interesting that those who say video games are a waste of time are the same ones that scream about their influence on our kids. This view is only picturing one type of game – the type that is entertainment rather than training.

This is different than saying that videos games are the best training. That’s not my point. I think that games – of any kind – are tools for training. Think of the following lessons: how to lose gracefully; how to win gracefully; sportsmanship; competition; determination; dedication; hand-eye coordination; reading instructions; paying attention to detail; problem-solving; the effects of the bell curve on systems (like rolling dice); the effects of random events on a system (like random attacks or moves from another player); analyzing patterns amongst chaos. Nothing compresses all of these lessons into one or two hours better than a game. And video games are just games with an extra adjective.

The problem comes when games aren’t correctly matched to a child. My goal is to train up my children in the way they are supposed to go. There is nothing about Killer Slasher 3 that they need. But there are games that are good for them, and I don’t mind a long session now and then if they have set out to accomplish a goal, and are determined to do it.

The key is follow up in real life. Next time a project gets difficult, I can just say, “Remember Zelda? Remember how hard that one level was? This is that level. Failure is not an option!”

If video games actually influence us (which they do), that means it can be a useful tool if properly used, and with good follow up in the real world. The waste-of-time games so often complained about are usually fillers for lack of adult influence and adventure in the real world. The games aren’t the problem. The attitude about the kids is the problem.

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