The usual picture that comes to mind when a ‘gamer’ is mentioned is that of the stereotypical unkempt, unshaven nerd sipping on a soda, surrounded by empty packets of junk food, furiously pushing buttons on a controller while simultaneously bleating out expletives into a headset. That’s some serious multi-tasking right there!
Jokes apart though, the internet has allowed what used to be leisure activity between a couple of friends to grow into MMORPGs – Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games with hundreds of thousands of players on the same platform at the same time. Mobile games have made gaming even more accessible turning practically every human being with access to the internet into a gamer of some form or the other.
The image of the antisocial gamer has been virtually dispelled. In fact, a report by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) states that 54% of the most frequent video game players surveyed affirmed that they played video games with others thereby demonstrating the social nature of video games. It is in fact, this very aspect of games that really influences gamers to be more assertive by nature and enables them to develop effective communication skills that are transferable offline into the real world.
Gaming now involves massive fictional universes with millions of players going on quests or completing missions. Some of these quests require groups of players to team up, each using their own special skills to complete them. First Person Shooter (FPS), multiplayer games like Counter Strike and its sequels required players to form teams to battle or perpetrate acts of terrorism. The various maps required team members to communicate with each other to fulfil the maps objectives or to defeat opposing teams. Successful teams need their members to have the ability to effectively communicate with each other in order to strategize and work together without conflict.
Leadership and Organisational Abilities
Games like City of Heroes give players the opportunity to team to complete missions. They even allow players with low experience to collaborate with more experienced players to up their game. This requires the more experienced players to develop leadership skills to aid the less experienced ‘sidekicks’.
Guilds or clans in MMORPGs consist of organised groups of players that regularly play together on a particular game. The larger guilds can comprise of up to a few thousand players. The corporations in EVE Online, an immensely popular MMORPG, take up numerous business models like mining and manufacturing. These corporations are headed by a Chief Executive Officer who controls the corporation’s assets and assigns roles to other members. Sounds familiar, right?
Clan Leaders are expected to coordinate schedules, motivate their teams and even mediate between members to resolve conflict. After all, there are real people behind every avatar! The overlap between managing a guild or corporation and running a project in real life is quite obvious.
Online chess is not the only game that requires strategic planning or thinking forward. Games like Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, which is a digital-only collectible card game, revolves around turn-based matches between two opponents where they pit their beautifully designed cards against each other in arenas. The game requires careful planning on how to use the decks on the player’s part to make sure the opponent is defeated. FPS games require strategic planning on the teams’ parts to defeat their opponents and guild leaders may need to plan the use of their guild’s resources in the future to ensure they are not depleted alongside their missions. While one might not necessarily need to know how to get to ‘Bomb Site B’ without alerting the enemy, the ability to plan a few moves ahead is definitely a great skill to have in real life.
Puzzle Solving Skills
Games are a great way to develop puzzle solving skills. Games like The Room have taken puzzle solving to whole new (and graphic) levels. They allow gamers to learn to think out of the box while solving layers of puzzles. These games allow players to try many different and creative approaches before finding the correct solution. Learning how to be persistent and not be discouraged by defeat is an important life skill to have. Research from North Carolina State University and Florida State University suggests that mainstream games geared toward entertainment can help improve attention, spatial orientation, and problem solving abilities.
Here’s one skill not often related to video games. Some video games actually require the player to recognise emotions and feelings of the characters as a part of the gameplay. L.A. Noire is notable for using Depth Analysis’s MotionScan technology, whereby the actors portraying the game’s characters were recorded by 32 surrounding cameras to capture facial expressions from every angle. The facial expressions are central to the game’s interrogation mechanic, as players must use the suspects’ reactions to questioning to judge whether or not they are lying. Video games are becoming increasingly narrative-centric, hence indirectly developing gamers’ sense of sympathy and empathy.
Video games have now become so much more than being simply ‘for entertainment’. There are gamers who play video games on a professional level and actually make a living out of it! Another great way to make a career from gaming is from game development. You can get a Degree in Game Development right after your 12th and be a part of an industry that is perpetually breaking the rules!