How Video Games are Helping KUA
A closer look into video game use around campus.
Video games are a prominent piece in many students’ lives here at KUA. They can be a good way to wind down during our precious free time or a useful tool in the classroom, but there are also many negative ways video games can affect students’ lives.
Video games are available in many different forms for those who choose to play them: would-be players can download apps for their phone, get a program on their computer, or play on one of the many increasingly popular video game consoles. These are devices designed solely for games use; some of the more common ones right now are the Xbox, PlayStation, or Wii.
With these consoles, one only needs to set it up with a monitor or T.V. and insert a game disc to have hours of fun. Players can also link these games through wifi to play other opponents in the dorm or even across the world. One of the great things about this system is that there are many types of games available for use. When asked for comment, xbox.com said that there are currently around one thousand games available to play on their console.
These video games have many different genres, such as first-person shooter and open-world exploration games. First person shooter games such as Call of Duty or Destiny have fast-paced gameplay usually taking the player through a battle from the perspective of the character they are playing. Open world exploration games such as Minecraft or Terraria allow players to go on adventures through the electronic world, discovering new areas and trying to complete challenges.
When used in moderation, video games can be an excellent way to relax, but the problem is that many students have difficulty using them in moderation. As Math Department Chair and D.R. Dorm Head Mr. Nichols put it, “I think about half our students don’t play video games very much, [while the other] half that do play, [play] them like crazy.”
It seems many people find it very difficult to play only a few hours a week, and according to a 2014 study by nielsen.com, gamers older than 13 spend an average of 6.3 hours a week on their consoles. This number is a 12% increase from 2011, and this number may continue to rise over the coming years.
If players do get hooked, it can begin to take time away from more important tasks and responsibilities. The Dean of Students, Mr. Russman, believes that “it’s a little harder to get kids off their technology and out of their rooms… into more social and collective experiences.” Students who do play video games often spend hours in their rooms playing instead of spending time doing more constructive activities.
Playing video games alone, while often perceived as a solitary activity, can serve as a way of connecting with others and enabling socializing. When asked about this, Jadon Boudreau
said,“Sometimes my social life is talking about the game with my friends; it’s not like I’m playing that instead of hanging out with friends.” In some video games, a player is even able to play together in a multiplayer mode and work together with friends to achieve a common goal.
Of course, there is another side to video game use: Video games are useful in the development of some fundamental skills. According to a study by the University of Rochester, action video games, such as Call of Duty or Halo, are able to improve reaction time and decision-making abilities. The fast-paced game play requires immediate choices to be made and can bolster confidence and real-time critical thought. As Ms. Lord put it, “There are certain elements of video games that are beneficial to all sorts of areas.”
As a part of Lord’s freshman World History class, every student plays hours of Sid Meier’s Civilization VI to create their own virtual civilization. Throughout the game, they try to model their virtual empire on a factual one from history, taking detailed notes throughout the process. If a student’s civilization burns or is defeated, they start again and analyze their mistakes.
Once the game-playing part of the process is over, students then must write a six-page analysis essay to prove their civilization was similar to their chosen civilization. The students use specific moves and decisions they made during their play and compare them to decisions their chosen civilization made. One of Ms. Lord’s students, Maxwell Shepherd, said,“I actually have to conceive and think of ideas for Civilization… rather than [the usual way when I] just read it in a textbook, write it on a test, and forget about it.”
As KUA advances and moves forward, video games may become a much more prominent piece of our lives. Mr. Russman believes “It’s more a part of what we do and how we interact”. And given current trends among students and the greater global market, that seems to be the case; video games are starting to enter all around us. It is now easier than ever to download a video game on your phone or laptop. There are even websites dedicated to playing different games.
At a certain point, ease of access becomes a prominent problem. If video games are around every bend in the road, it will become harder and harder to get people off of their devices and back into the real world. It is true that video games can be a good addition to people’s lives if used in moderation; the only problem is figuring out how to ensure they are being used in moderation. It is possible that this can be done, and, with a little work, video games could be an interactive alternative to traditional education methods as well as a way of building useful skills.