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Essay-- Cognitive Benefits of.. (1 Viewer)



Would like some feedback for an essay I'm turning in for an assignment. Thanx in advance for any and all responses!

After school kids and teens alike are consuming new information concepts, cognitive skills, and like it or not they are doing this in front of a computer or T.V. screen a controller in hand. Video games have quickly become a mainstream activity in which kids, and now even adults participate in daily. A whole sub-culture of gamers has emerged from the proverbial basement and with it much controversy concerning violence, among other things contained in certain games. A rich history of electronic video games dates back to the mid 1980’s, and as in many games there are benefits to coincide with the cultural changes caused by them.
New technologies do not just appear from thin air. The origins of video games follow along the same lines and start from the mid to early 1980’s in which there was a massive pinball craze (Marshall, 2001). Pinball evolved slowly in time to a format known as arcades, in which people paid quarters to play a game. David Bushnell CEO of Atari in the 1980’s came up with an idea to make these games smaller so that consumers could have video game consoles in their homes. The idea was an immediate success carried on the shoulders by the already massive arcade fan-base. The first console was created by Atari and was known as the Atari 2600. Soon after the craze and success of the 2600 other companies such as Nintendo, Sony, Sears, and even Sega all had there own version of home consoles on the market. After a while the technology these consoles were based on (the PC) migrated over to computer format well after the industry was worth millions. As such, creative publishers and game writers were drawn to the industry and started making very innovative and original games; games the consumers purchased by the thousands. Along with these professional people came much controversy over their eccentric lifestyles and the content in which they put in their games.
Along the lines of video gaming history comes the controversy induced by media and government over the content in certain games often times labeled as too violent. This is a hypocritical stance to take when there is just as much violence in movies, television, and even music. Many studies have been conducted as to what effect games have on violence, the results of which have been staggering. Over 80% of the studies conducted by institutes such as MIT, Yale, Stanford, and Purdue have concluded that “findings suggest that media in video game format has little to no impact on youth violence” (Surgeon General). This publicly released statement is proof that many accusations of video games being the motive of a crime are indeed false. In 1900-1980 over 2 million people were murdered in gruesome fashions by serial killers, deranged psychos, and even normal people before video games and came about. Eleven thousand people in America die from gunshot wounds each year. 99.9% of them have nothing at all to do with video games, further bolstering the above institutes’ conclusions. “Before you can understand a violent crime you must first isolate every factor leading up to the event; a bad childhood, abused, parent figure missing, chemical imbalances in serotonin levels, the list can go on and on” (Mclaughan, 1999). All of these could be possible factors in which crimes were committed and later blamed on video game influences such as Doom and Duke Nukem (Both of which have graphic material in them and have come under fire by politicians because of it).
“ The games people play reveal a lot about them in turn giving electronic media such as video games the opportunity to change our culture” (Mclaughan, Pg. 62 2003). Electronic media has induced many changes in the culture we live in today. Not only do we have a majority of electronic appliances in our homes the internet is fast becoming a popular medium of entertainment through video games, movies, and even shopping. Our culture also converses through the internet via AIM (AOL Instant Messenger™). With all these uses of the internet and electronics its no wonder video games are becoming extremely popular all over the world.
Video games do in fact have many ways of teaching us motor skills and in general to be literate and explain thoughts clearly. As Lauren Gonzalez has found after extensive research at MIT “Learning is not about memorizing isolated facts. It’s about connecting and manipulating them.” Gonzalez goes on to point out that the U.S. spends $50 billion on education each year. 40% of the population has below average reading and writing scores, lack basic skills in these fields, and 6% are illiterate all together. Compared to their foreign counterparts all over the world such as Japan, England, and many others, these findings are dismal in comparison to the 10% in test scores and 2% in illiteracy. We can begin to hypothesize the reasons for these results. Perhaps students in some instances memorize facts for tests, forget them a week later, and never use the information again. As Paul Gee Williams a PhD at MIT points out, some kids are just good at “doing school” and are not actually learning to think which is the main purpose of school, is it not?
You may be asking how do video games fit in the above picture, and the point is that a large majority of games are in fact beneficial to students in teaching them how to think and learn. Due to the underlying architecture of each game in which the developers seek the players limits to be difficult yet at the same time doable. This tactic is known as the Regime Competence Principal causing players to have feelings of frustration and euphoria all at the same time. Cognitive scientists such as Andy Disessa have found that the best instruction for learning hovers at the boundary of a students’ competence. This group went on to state that the best type of video games to help learning “incorporate expertise, tend to encourage players to master a level, only to undo that mastery in the next level forcing players to adapt and evolve. Educational theorists in Stanford have concluded that this is the best method to gain expertise in any field. MIT has come out with a list full of proven benefits as follows: Problem solving improved, hand eye coordination improved, visual skills honed, extends attention span, enhances reading skills, create the ability to adapt and evolve, build vocabulary, and memory skills are improved. All of the above can help students in school and in life by giving them a “leg-up” on the non gamers.
This is not to say that all games are beneficial, yet an enormous majority are. Real Time Strategy games such as Warcraft III, Age of Mythology, and Command and Conquer force players to micromanage an array of elements while at the same time balancing long and short-term goals. In AoM (Age of Mythology) players take the role of the commander of vast Roman armies to conquer the world in mythological times. This could spark interest in young minds and want to make players study the era in which the game takes place due to the many historical references. First person shooters such as Deus Ex have many geo political references in game. In this specific game (Deus Ex) a literary term known as Deus Ex machina (a solution to a previously unsolvable problem) is revolved around the whole game focusing on the literary devices with alternative meanings and forcing a player to create his or her own digital persona. As one player puts it this sounds like something to put on your résumé.
A rich history of electronic video games dates back to the mid 1980’s, and as in many games there are benefits to coincide with the cultural changes caused by them induced by controversy in game violence. The purpose of the above information is not to lead you to believe that all games are beneficial, yet a large majority are. Video games still have plenty of potential to teach our culture a number of different skills and concepts. The benefits of which are still being uncovered to this day. In summation peoples’ notion of this activity is low and until they learn the benefits of playing games they will continue to look down on this otherwise wonderful hobby.


Senior Member
I hope the final draft has paragraphs.

Get some recent research which proves that video games either DOES or DOES NOT increase violent tendencies in children. Present it in the text.

Good luck