Crouching behind the rubble of a decrepit military base, you know that battle is approaching as the firing of weapons around you rings in your ears. Carnage surrounding you, your team flanks the enemy from behind and, after a short firefight, victory is yours!Though this scene may not seem like one that has a particularly positive influence on the youth of today, it can be seen that video games do not encourage people to act violently in real life and, instead, act as a perfect source of stress relief and allow the gamer to improve their visuospatial cognition and encourage a general sense of human wellness in players.
As homework starts to pile up, who isn’t stressed out by the numerous deadlines for projects and astounding amounts of extra-curricular commitments? At times, the best way to relieve this stress is to blow up the heads of monsters with your buddies as all of the anger and frustration that is built up during our everyday lives is slowly released. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital, gamers that played violent video games released so much of their stress in a thirty-minute to one-hour session that they were more focused and engaged on their schoolwork for the rest of the night. One such example of a stress-relieving video game is the ubiquitous, multi-million online battle arena platform League of Legends. League of Legends pits a team of players against another in attempts to destroy each other’s base. Many of us can probably recall the countless times where a group of stressed out friends would play a round or two of League and subsequently go their separate ways to do homework. I personally feel that playing a round of video games really lets me forget about my stress and releases my frustration into the quest of utterly annihilating the enemy team.
Additionally, so-called “violent” video games also help players develop visuospatial cognition, meaning that they condition players to take in the information given by their surroundings more efficiently and help them develop improved motor skills. Most people would assume that the solution to problems in such games is to go in guns blazing – but in reality, this is not the case. In the critically acclaimed game DayZ, the player must survive in a post apocalyptic world overrun by zombies while fending off diseases and scavenging for basic necessities. In a game like this, the player needsto utilize quick thinking to stay alive. Barricading the door might prevent zombies from getting in, but it might mean that you’re locked inside the room with another zombie with no escape. Camping out in the mountains might freeze the zombies to death, but it might mean that the player’s resources are exhausted at a faster rate. The development of the visuospatial cognition means that in real life, these gamers have the ability to react better in high-pressure situations.
Ever since the media has perpetuated the link between school shootings and violent video games, there has been ample controversy surrounding them. Contrary to the popular belief that violent games create violent people, a study conducted by The Center of Mental Health and Media (Harvard Medical School) argues a different side. According to the study, youth crime rates have declined sharply despite the ubiquitous presence of violent video games. It argues that violent game play is now so common that kids are frequently reminded of the relationship between action and consequence and can perceive the disastrous results that would entail if such actions were to be recreated in real life. As the study suggests, the after effects of violence in these violent video games actually are keeping teen crime rates low.
Tearing your eyes away from the LED screen, you power off your computer and go outside with your friends. Violent video games are not actually the negative influence that media has portrayed them as. There is no doubt that these games are beneficial as they help relieve stress, increase critical thinking skills and motor skills, and have an overall salutary effect on the youth of today.
This article originally appeared in the January, 2015 issue of UNIT-E. It was written by Charles Chang, a student at the International School of Beijing.
UNIT-E was founded in the spring of 2010 with the aim of establishing a non-profit, student-run magazine for international students in Beijing. Staffed by current students from a range of international schools, the magazine provides an amalgam of cultural tidbits, fragments of Beijing student life, and a broad spectrum of unique perspectives from a diverse group of young adults.
Photo: Analea Gwendolyn (Flickr)