The Life Skills Video Games Can Offer

by : Victor Epand

Is it possible that computer and video games have something positive and constructive to offer, and that rather than being a social menace which parents should be afraid of, they are in fact contributing a good deal to the development of the next generation?

Certainly there is no doubt whatever that the children of today will be living in a technological society, with computers and technical equipment part of everyday lifestyle. Although we're pretty much at that stage now, many of us have either witnessed the introduction and steady development and integration of computer technology into our lives, or have experienced a world before computers came along, and have seen the world and our lives slowly taken over by electronic gadgets that seem to be far cleverer than we are. Children of today will grow up never knowing a world without mobile phones, satellite technology, worldwide file and information sharing and exchange, instant video communications with anyone, anywhere anytime, and although this idea might seem surreal to us, almost as though something from a science fiction novel, for our children it will be their reality.

In which case it is important for us to accept this change, and try to see a way in which our children can be adjusted to, and deal effectively with not only the technology around them, but also each other. Social skills, people skills and personal characteristics are always going to be important, and no one can live on an island with oinly a computer to keep them company. At the end of the day, it is not the computers which run society, but a combination of the people who design and program them, and the people who use them in their lives. Computers are, always have been, and will continue to be machines, tools, used by real people doing real jobs.

So what do computer and video games have to do with this brave new world? If you examine carefully the range of games available, you may simple assume that the games industry is owned by the US military or some other armed force, since so many games seem to involve military tactics, and the conquering or annihilation of the opposing force. Whilst this is an unfair generalisation, there certainly are many games which take the idea of battles and wars as their basis. One could argue that old games such as Battleships, even Chess, are about battles and armed forces - just a little simpler and easier to grasp.

But the point is that many of the games available necessarily require players to understand, learn and develop skills which have a great deal of value in the real world. Skill such as teamwork, coordination, planning, devising and implementing strategies, logistics, problem solving and even budgeting all come in to play - life skills which, whilst they can be taught in other ways, are not the main focus of any educational curriculum. Yet no one would deny the value of those skills. Perhaps gaming can become part of the curriculum at school in the future, allowing children to develop life skills through video games?