Sinclair: Erase your negative stigma about video games


video games

Isaac Sinclair

Video games are fun. I have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t enjoyed playing video games, even if they aren’t particularly into video games. They allow people to relax and forget about their everyday stresses by indulging in an interactive fantasy.

I can be a soldier in the middle of the jungle on a covert mission one minute, and then the world’s best soccer player scoring the game’s winning goal in the next. The versatility and the larger-than-life feeling that video games give the user are one of the biggest reasons they are so popular.

From PCs to consoles, almost everyone indulges in some form of gaming on a regular basis, with 65 percent of U.S. households owning a device to play video games. With more than half of the country playing video games, it’s not surprising to imagine that this technology takes up a fair amount of our time and energy.

I’ll be the first to agree that as a nation, we probably spend too much time playing video games. I do believe we should cut down on our time in front of all screens, but I look at video games through a slightly different lens.

Given their interactive and engaging nature, video games can improve our social skills, education and be simply good fun.

The stereotype of a gamer is an awkward person, with poor social skills, who sits in a dark room all day with their eyes glued to the screen and their hands drilled into their controller, doing nothing but reaching the next level on whatever game they are playing. This is simply not the case for all gamers.

Video games are an extremely social technology. Forty-eight percent of the most frequent gamers play social games. People aren’t playing games to avoid other people, they’re just discovering a new and unique way to interact with them. Sixty-five percent of teens play video games with other people who are in the room with them, which is an incredibly social situation. They must communicate and interact with one another, they have to problem solve quickly as a team and they compete with one another in the game. All these things develop healthy, real-world social skills.

People aren’t locking themselves in rooms to avoid the world, they’re just interacting with it in a new way. One of these new ways is the integration of video games and education. Video games have the potential to actually engage students and improve their critical thinking skills.

The Quest to Learn is a public school in New York that has completely integrated video games into its curriculum, designing the classrooms around missions and quests in video games that the students have to navigate through. It is aiming to innovate the way children are educated by involving every student, challenging them and helping students better understand the modern world they live in. It also teaches children how to design their own games, making the interaction with video games about understanding how the technology in their lives is developed.

A school like this one, I believe, is an important part of the future of our education system. Video games in schools provide students with almost immediate feedback and make children more comfortable with the technology that dominates every aspect of their life. If this school proves successful, it could “provide a strong framework for inquiry and project-based learning” for the children who attend and change the way the nation views video games in schools.

On top of all of these benefits, video games are simply fun. They provide us with adventures that are unlike anything we could ever experience in real life (for the most part). They engage our imagination and desire to do something bigger than ourselves. Video games are only going to get better looking, more interactive and more incredible as people’s love of gaming increases. Whatever negative stigma video games have had in the past needs to be erased from our minds as they continue to change and impact our lives in more significant ways.