It’s a multi-billion dollar industry with 1.4 billion consumers worldwide. They’re never in short demand for workers, but only 10 percent of schools in the United States cater to this job specialization. Welcome to the world of gaming.
Lazy, incompetent, unambitious – these are some of the traits that stereotype your average gamer. It’s no wonder why pursuing a career in the gaming sector has been frowned upon – why would society want to breed these types of individuals? Thanks to the boom in technology, research, and the Internet, we are seeing those misconceptions of gaming culture changing from negative to positive.
Recent studies have shown that gaming has a positive effect on our brains. Our brain is comprised of many different parts, but the ones that are linked to daily functions such as memory formation, strategic planning, muscle control, and spatial navigation are the right hippocampus, the right prefrontal cortex, and the cerebellum. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus found that a daily 30 minute Super Mario 64 session over a two month period increased brain mass in these areas.
An MRI of the volunteers showed that there was a significant increase in grey matter and even more so in volunteers who enjoyed playing the video games. So is it safe to assume that people who like to game could actually be smarter than the average human being? It may be so.
At the Singapore American School, the gaming community is host to players of all walks of life. Academically and socially gifted individuals, these gamers are a testament to the beneficial effects of gaming.
Jayendra “Jayu” Minakshisundar, a senior at SAS, has accumulated a whopping 4.37 GPA, juggling classes such as AP Calculus BC, AP Economics, and AP Physics C with his love for gaming. Although he admits that it has interfered with his assignment deadlines, to him, the pros of gaming outweigh its cons.
“It has had many positive effects on my life. I’ve made many friends at school through gaming, and I find myself participating in a wider online community through gaming and its community,” Jayu says of gaming culture. “It’s also had positive effects on my academic life, as I strongly believe it’s kept my mind sharp and easily focused.”
Especially for MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games), there is no such thing as a pause button, forcing you to constantly react and to be on your toes. These games put you in a space where collaboration and teamwork is key to attain a common objective, and with millions of players online, teach you how to be sociable, in addition to improving your typing speed. These traits make for very capable workers in any modern industry.
SAS senior and avid gamer Michael Wong has spearheaded events for non-profit organization Gawad Kalinga and co-directed his startup organization, Mercy Relief. He praises gaming for building skills that have helped him in event planning and organization.
“I think everyone should game. I play a lot of strategy games like League [of Legends], Ruse, and Hearthstone where your setup and how you coordinate your tactics is key to winning, with a bit of quick but rational judgment… It’s definitely lent a great hand to managing and running my service and extra curriculars.”
So why is it that gaming culture is so stigmatized? For the individual, gaming provides relevant skills that they can apply to their work and daily regimen. And while some believe violent-content video games birth violent individuals, it’s been proven otherwise. Rather, the negative effects can stem from the length of time playing, and the correlation is very small.
So if it’s beneficial, applicable and with little to no downside, it should be a subject that is taught and praised in today’s tech-dominated world. It makes sense for students to be exposed to all breadths of gaming, which is why schools are beginning to teach code, incorporate computer science, game design, and mobile application classes. We have moved from the age of industrialism to the age of technology, and it’s time that this new form of learning comes to the forefront. Gaming is a field that has successfully stood the test of time, so if you can’t beat it, join it.