Many people believe that too much time spent watching television or playing computer or video games can be detrimental to children’s development. However, video games can also be beneficial. Gaming, in moderation, helps improve cognitive skills, such as attention, vision, and multitasking.
The experience of game play can be described as an activity in which the player is virtually embodied in the game world. Anyone who has experienced the world of gaming knows how the engaging experience can manifest itself with “sweaty palms and chills down the spine” (http://www.eludamos.org/index.php/eludamos/article/viewArticle/80/147) when coming face-to-face with alien creatures; or with the adrenaline rush we get when racing a high speed automobile head-to-head with a friend. Gaming is an excellent source of entertainment. It provides an opportunity for social growth, provides a meaningful form of exploring expression, and provides heightened sensitivity.
Rather than creating social isolation, as some would argue, I believe gaming provides an environment in which friendships often develop. As players interact, discussing game strategies and considering rules and rule breaking, two separate scenarios are occurring at the same time. Although the players are fighting on screen, a friendship may be forming off screen. Personally, I have acquired many online friends through the years.
The video game market has shifted from being a predominantly male market to include the female population with games like The Sims, in which players build virtual worlds. Such games often result in online communities, where players build avatars and interact with others across the globe. My sister used to spend hours at the computer building her virtual world.
Many genres of video games have been developed which provide not only hours of entertainment but also ample social interaction. RPG's, or role playing games, a personal favorite of mine, often involve a quest that must be completed. Teams frequently consist of two to forty gaming characters. Often only a few characters can fight at one time, so we, as players, must balance our teams so as to use all their skills effectively. In MMORPG's (massively multiplayer online RPG's), teams consist of people worldwide. Racing games involve up to four people who race against one another on different tracks. Fighting games are exactly what the name implies, and multiple players can combat one another. Strategy games, in which we navigate our characters around a map to defeat an enemy or accomplish a mission, are another favorite of mine. Finally, in sports games, we control a favorite team or a single character, as in golf or skiing games. As motion-sensing games, such as the Wii, have come on the market, family and friends often join together for a night of fun-filled entertainment, using a wide variety of interactive games now on the market.
In addition to social interaction, gaming provides us...