Halo, Final Fantasy, Age of Empires offer skills

Video games have often been condemned for promoting violence among gamers. There have been many well-documented studies – for example, of teenagers turning moody, depressed, anti-social and violent after immersing themselves too deeply into their virtual realities.

However, a recent study by the University of Illinois found that its adult subjects experienced a significant improvement in a number of cognitive functions after playing video games. Earlier research in 2007 by the Beth Israel Medical Centre discovered that surgeons who play video games make 37 percent fewer mistakes than their non-gaming counterparts.

Develop Strategic Thinking with Age of Empires

War tactics, peace negotiations, trade, this game entrusts players with the monumental – well, not insignificant – task of creating and leading a nation through centuries, even millennia, of history. Players lead their civilizations from building houses and gathering food to fending off infantry, cavalry and naval attacks from enemies; and eventually being the last empire standing.

Researchers from the University of Illinois found that, after playing Rise of Nations (which shares a similar concept to Age of Empires) for a total of 23.5 hours, their subjects experienced a significant increase in their reasoning abilities. This is unsurprising, considering players have to carefully manage natural and human resources, along with structuring their territories using defensive smarts.

Develop Problem Solving Skills with Final Fantasy

Defeating enemies, side quests, limit breaks – all jargon in the wonderful world of Final Fantasy. Patience is a virtue when it comes to FF games; as this multi-layered game has enticed many hardcore gamers such that they absolutely must complete every single side quest, collect every single spell and item before they proclaim themselves to have fully conquered the game.

Now that’s dedication. The problems can often be challenging, and players must manipulate complicated battle commands to defeat a constant barrage of enemies, all with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Develop Spatial-Temporal Memory with Big Brain Academy

Through a series of timed tests, Big Brain Academy aims to improve black spots through a series of the customized curriculum of memory-building games and activities. Players go through tests to measure their brain mass; with the concept that people with heavier brains are smarter, or have faster reaction times. These games are divided into several categories, including logic, math, visual and memory themed questions.

Develop Task Management Skills with Diner Dash

Time management games were all the rage not too long ago, with the Diner Dash series leading the way, followed by various incarnations involving pet grooming, beach resorts and even farms. The basic concept is simple, the player has to complete certain tasks within a set amount of time in order to pass each level. The levels get progressively harder, with customers getting more demanding and impatient – this can actually contribute to stress levels!

Once players get the hang of it, however, it can certainly improve task management abilities – in Diner Dash, players have to divide their attention between manipulating cooks, waiters, cleaners and customers. These games can be downloaded from various websites including Yahoo, Big Fish Games and Reflexive Arcade.

Develop an Eye for Detail with Halo 3

Playing action games like Halo 3 can speed up the ability to process visual information and increase attention span, according to researchers at University of Rochester. This helps increase visual literacy, which is a useful skill especially if one is going into artistic fields such as photojournalism. The fast pace of the game also trains reflexes, and dexterity is handy in just about any aspect in life – music, sports, self-defense, and the list goes on.

Verdict

Clearly, skills picked up from the virtual gaming world can indeed translate into skills in the real world. Of course, studies showing the benefits of gaming certainly do not invalidate the ones pointing out gaming’s darker side. The measure of a good game, really, is how addictive it is – which leads to quite a Catch-22 situation.

As with almost everything else in life, one needs to understand the concept of moderation. Gaming is good, but not to the extent of losing sleep or health over it.

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