Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What I've Learned From Video Games, Part 1

       I did a persuasive essay a while back as a final for an English class, about why video games are beneficial to kids. To an extent at least- as with most things gaming is best enjoyed in moderation. Obviously it's important to get out and actually get in some physical activity on a regular basis, but I want to go ahead and highlight some of the things that I, personally, have learned from being a lifelong gamer.

Cover Art for Kirby's Dream Land
I started gaming as a kid, having been given my cousin's old brick-sized original GameBoy. My mom took me to a yard sale where I picked up the Kirby's Dream Land. I spent hours at this game, and because it didn't have a save feature and I had no way of plugging my GameBoy into a power outlet, I restarted the game on a regular basis. So, what did I learn from my first gaming experience? Patience, and hand-eye coordination. Okay, so the jury's still out on the whole hand-eye coordination thing, but multiple studies* have shown that playing video games does improve hand-eye coordination. So really, one can just think how much more clumsy I would be were it not for darling Kirby.

See what I did there?

Screenshot from Sid Meier's Pirates!
Alright, patience; probably would've picked that up at some other point along the line, right? How about history? I went through a phase as a teenager where I was really into pirates (no, it was not sparked by Pirates of the Caribbean, it was because I got into reading One Piece in Shonen Jump) and although there were plenty of books and documentaries on them, it wasn't until I picked up a copy of Sid Meier's Pirates! that everything began to come to life for me. Like many "creative types" I'm not a strong learner when I have to sit still and read or listen to information being given to me, but with this immersive and (aside from the protagonists mission to save his family) historically accurate world playing out before me, I was able to gain a strong grasp of port locations, the challenges of sea life, the difference between a pirate and privateer, and what the controlling powers were during that time.
I'll have *much* more in this series later on, but for now I'll leave you with just these two tidbits.

* Articles: MSNBC and National Geographic.


  1. I loved playing those Kirby games, fave being Superstar back on the snes. Actually.. why haven't I given that one to my kid, she has a gameboy! lol.

  2. Superstar was a solid game, for sure. A lot of replay-ability. Do you see your daughter learning things from video games now?

  3. YES. When we played thru Chrono Trigger, I read the ENTIRE text of the game to her like a playable storybook. She sees certain words and knows them know. Beyond that, she learned (at 4yrs old mind you) how to use Techs, how to fight, how to run, etc... so hand eye coord. is there too. Video games FOR LIFE. lol.

  4. That's awesome! I defiantly could see how gaming (old-school RPG's especially) could help with reading skills when it's a story-heavy game that's got character voice overs and text simultaneously.

  5. I'm gonna get her into Kirby, the gameplay is pretty straight forward, and the main char being pink will make her like it more lol. She's still a little iffy about games like Mario that are "pit and platform" heavy, ya know? These kids today just don't have the classic charm that we got when we were kids.. things like getting pissed the eff off when you can't make the jump on level 4-2, lol.

  6. Haha I got SO ENRAGED at anyone who happened to make the mistake of being the one talking right as I fell off a platform or got a game over, because I was sure it was their fault for breaking my concentration.