How would you like to play a game of Tetris? Most app-permitting phones give people the opportunity to play wherever they please. But the screen of a phone is a bit small, wouldn’t you agree?
Frank Lee is on his way to setting a world record for the largest Tetris game ever created. It spans the length of 29 stories along the side of Cira Center in Philadelphia. Yes, you read correctly: 29 stories. That’s 100,000 square feet of pure entertainment.
In light of the recent larger-than-life Tetris, my attention was immediately directed towards the “video game” argument. Do they wipe out all traces of intelligence in the young minds of this generation, or do the games promote new and intricate thought pathways in the brain?
Andres Martinez wrote an article in Slate discussing his opinion towards video games. For years he had refused to buy his son an Xbox, believing that “gaming was a gateway vice to a life of ruin”. Soon it seemed, though, that the list of reasons to purchase an Xbox quickly grew.
After many wishful pleas from his son, Martinez agreed to approach gaming with an open mind. Through much fumbling of the controller and many nervous heart beats, he very quickly realized the complexity of video games. Instantly his unflappable opinion against video games wavered.
While playing the renowned soccer video game FIFA 14, Martinez used the game as an educational tool for his nine-year-old son. For example, they participated in tournaments via Xbox with players from around the world. Before game play, Martinez would pull out a map and ask his son to identify where all their competitors were from.
The game also provided Martinez with an opportunity to teach his son the game of soccer in a new and fascinating way. It’s easier to see the why behind certain aspects of soccer; why one shot angle would be of more advantage than another, or why “dribbling the ball on your own from midfield is not the best way to score a goal”.
He was not only surprised by how many educational lessons could bloom from a video game, but was even more surprised by how mentally challenging the game was. “It takes a nimble mind and digital dexterity to remember in real time the right controls,” he wrote.
However, the most important experience he gained from purchasing the Xbox, he says, was bonding with his son. He was able to not only teach his son essential soccer techniques and enrich his son’s education, but was able to enhance that father-son bond.
Just as Frank Lee said in a Slate article, his 29-story Tetris was a new and interesting way to bond together the city of Philadelphia. Games are an amazing way to build friendships; I’m speaking from personal experience. You learn how people naturally behave and think and problem solve. These games reveal the more interesting side of people that we don’t generally see.
Martinez alone is not the only person to comment on the interesting flip side to these games. There have even been numerous scientific studies to prove the effectiveness of playing video games for our mental health. The Max Planck Institute for Human Development conducted a study last year that validates the benefits of gaming.
The study asked one set of adults to play video games for 30 minutes every day for two months. The other set of adults (the control group), were asked to continue their lives as normal. The results, I feel, were slightly surprising and prove the experience Martinez described.
Those adults who gamed for two months showed a visible increase in brain matter. They revealed a large increase in memory formations, strategic planning, spatial navigation and fine motor skills in their hands. Those who did not play the games revealed no signs of increased brain matter.
Psychologists, interestingly enough, picked up on the wave of news surrounding these studies. They found, through their own means, that video games in several cases could improve the mental health of their patients.
What better way to play video games than when the doctor prescribes them to you?
Many people may agree that video games improve the mind, but may not feel that their time is well spent by busting out some Mario Kart for hours on end. Casey Holland wrote her opinion in StateNews, saying that “clearly, it isn’t time thrown — it’s time spent stimulating the brain, and it could prove to be valuable to a person’s health in the future. Plus, nothing says “bonding” like getting into a shouting match over who threw the red shell.”
There are games out there, in my opinion, that have very little educational value; they do not foster creativity or cognitive development and are simply meant for entertainment. Which is fine! But I’m not going to spend three hours playing those types of games when I could be playing ones that increase my mental abilities.
What I like about video games is it doesn’t feel like I’m learning. I’m increasing memory formations, strategic planning, spatial navigation and my fine motor skills, but I’m having fun while doing it.
And let’s face it: a 29-story Tetris is pretty awesome.