In this fast-paced era of information and technology, video games are commonplace, a conventional form of entertainment that people of all ages and genders engage in. But even with the medium’s growing popularity, negative criticisms and opinions about the content, probability of addiction, and detrimental influences on behavior are abundant. Yes, there are games with graphic violence, sexual content, and questionable morality. It is entirely possible that a prolonged exposure with no set rules or restrictions can lead to the development of an unhealthy obsession (play in moderation!). There are individuals out there that find it difficult to distinguish fantasy from reality, and so impressionable that they think it’s okay to mimic inappropriate actions and behaviours depicted in fictional premises. But isn’t it unfair to label all video games as “bad” or “evil”? The examples above are extremes, not the norm.
Video games are a medium with endless positive potential; it can be used to:
- Tell stories (kinetic and visual novels focus on this aspect)
- Create architectural and artistic masterpieces (Minecraft, anyone?)
- Improve reflexes and coordination
- Contribute to a person’s physical fitness (Wii Fit, the classic Dance Dance Revolution)
- Teach people to think outside the box (with puzzle games like Professor Layton and Monument Valley)
- Broaden one’s knowledge
- Bond and connect with other people (MMORPGs, multiplayer games like Splatoon or Mario Party)
- Encourage exploration of the outdoors (Ingress, the upcoming Pokemon Go)
- Make learning fun and interactive for children, whether it’s simple math or reading comprehension
For all the reasons listed above and more, video games should be available for circulation in libraries (if the budget allows it) and be a part of primary, secondary, and post-secondary education curriculums. Some libraries have already jumped onto the bandwagon. For example, the University of Calgary has an extensive video game collection on the second floor of the Taylor Family Digital Library, along with high performance PCs, game consoles, and equipment. Some programs being offered at the university even implements video games to teach and explore concepts.
To close, here’s excerpt from the Ilovelibraries (an initiative of the American Library Association) website: “Games are drawing attention in libraries as successful outreach tools for tweens, teens and seniors. They are also gaining ground in schools as valuable resources that introduce and reinforce a variety of curricular, social and life skills.”
If you are interested in reading more about this topic, here are some good articles and blog posts: