Yes, young people do benefit from playing video games!

It’s always easy to put games on blame because “games are easy target”. Yet by mindlessly blaming games for making young people to become violent is solely an accusation. We need to take a closer look of this misperception. In Prensky (2006), it is clearly described that children has been able to grasp the concept that violence in games is solely artificial and fake – they know that it’s just a game – by means that aggressiveness only appears when the game is on. When the game is off, the aggressiveness is likely to disappear.

In Prensky (2006), we can also find excellent corroborated theme opposing the violent accusation as follows:
1.In his book A Theory of Fun for Game Design, game designer Raph Koster argues that kids don’t even see the violence for what adults think it represents. They see it rather as just a form of window dressing to what they are really doing, which is trying to achieve goals and beat the game.

2.Gerard Jones, in Killing Monsters, make a catharsis argument, showing how kids have always gotten to act out their violent impulses through games and other media, and so do not need to in real life

3.Reviewer Charles Herold of the New York Times argues similarly that games offer a way to be aggressive without hurting anyone in the process What is more, as in Prensky, it is important to be noted that games has helped decreasing violence – “Facts remain; violence in the US has gone down dramatically during the same period that game playing has dramatically increased. More importantly, the overwhelming majorities of normal kids who see some violent movies and play some violent games but receive the usual, societal counter messages do not and will not act violently in public or in private” (2006, p. 21)

As opposed to what the con-side perspectives about games that is definitely useless for children, it’s highly likely that young people benefit from playing video games. Video game is no longer an instrument but more to a “language”. Needless to say, prominent traits of language are developing, evolving, and contextual – identical representations of what game means to today’s generation. There’s no smoke without fire. The statement that says video game is beneficial does not come from out of nowhere; there must have been evidence, facts, and data from research and findings so far that really infuse “academics, writers, foundations, game designers, companies, and increasingly U.S. government and military …to be aware of the enormous potential for learning contained in gaming medium, and to integrate games and game-based learning into schools” (Prensky, 2006, p. 11). Among these “smokes” are statements such as (1) “playing action, video, and computer games positively affects players’ visual selective attention – how to identify and concentrate on the most important things and filter out the rest” (Prensky, 2006, p. 8); (2) “computer and video games give skills to take prudent risks in business, take in information from many sources, pull together data from many places into coherent picture of the world and make decision quickly” (Prensky, 2006, p. 8-9); (3) video games contribute to the skill of “multitasking and parallel processing” (Prensky, 2006, p. 9); (4) “a pre-schooler on building cost, a first-grader on customer satisfaction, a second-grader on city planning” (Prensky, 2006, p. 9) – video games help children learn complex concepts earlier in a more fun way; (5) video games teach to “collaborate effectively with others” (Prensky, 2006, p. 10); (6) “help youngsters learn logical thinking and computer literacy” (Prensky, 2006, p. 12); (7) “game studies now recognized as a valid academic discipline” (Prensky, 2006, p. 13 – proves that it brings positive aspects to education and learning.

As to understand the new paradigm of learning that video games have offered to the NetGen’s life, it is important to have prior knowledge (context) about how far the benefits really plausible for young people – The inputs, throughputs, and outputs of digital native’s world. Understanding the inputs (nature, traits); throughput (processing, unforced learning, enlightened trial and error); and output (disposition, characters) of the digital native will hopefully build our understanding to wisely “speak” their language in order to be able to “communicate” with them in the world where technology has been the air they are breathing since they were born. The inputs refer to young people’s nature and traits of being digital native. As digital native, young people have already been fluent in utilizing technology by having “enlightened trial and error” (Prensky, 2006, p. 8). It is enlightening because they have been accustomed to learn about it favorably, voluntarily, by no force – it is monistic, a single power that generates the whole life of youngsters. Having these inputs, the throughputs are inextricably mechanized in the way that the inputs have formed the path. In terms of video game within the monistic vibe of technology, youngsters have accustomed to think, perceive and feel that playing games is fun-obliged activity. As fun-obliged activity, the process of learning by having enlightened trial and error has given them reflection and experience – two important aspects that make the goals of learning are highly achievable. So to say, the following succession is the outputs.

Since today’s world most demanded skills are closely related to strategic implementation of technology in almost every aspect of life, youngsters’ attachment to play games give them access to learn the experiences of exchanging, sharing, meeting, evaluating, coordinating, programming, searching, customizing, and socializing incorporate them as contextual skills in the real world (Prensky, 2006, p. 10) – seen as a whole different world for digital immigrants. Digital immigrants have not been accustomed to the world where time, space, and feedback are not the need for speed, while digital natives have been programmed (let alone the term accustomed to) into the world where time, space, and feedback are the need for speed. Therefore, this need for speed has made young people share, buy & sell, exchange, create, meet, coordinate, evaluate, game, learn, evolve, search, analyze, report, program, socialize, grow up differently (Prensky, 2006). Games have embraced these different norms and behavior in which it often terrifies mostly of the skeptical predecessor. In the end, video games are versatile media to learn to experience and incorporate skills through unlimited strategies that will help enhancing cognitive skills – representational competence, multidimensional visual-spatial skills, inductive discovery, and attentional deployment (Prensky, 2006, p. 36). Thus, video games are beneficial for young people mainly because they perceive it differently from those of digital immigrants whose knee-jerk prejudice towards game is hardly acceptable by young people. Yet, like it or not, games has taken the gist of learning at the threshold because “games, especially when combined with the digital native communication technologies such as IM and cell phones, offer up the most realistic vision of how everyone, young and old, will be learning and working in the decades to come” (Prensky, 2006, p. 51).

Last but not least, this great interview from the authors of Grand-Theft Childhood may provide better understanding why violence is not relevant:

Prensky, Marc. (2006). Don’t Bother Mom – I’m Learning. Minnesota: Paragon House.


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