Why Videogames Help To Stay On Top Of Technology

"Players are artists who create their own reality within the game." 
                                             - Shigeru Miyamoto

Due to the recent passing of Satoru Iwata (President of Nintendo, read more about his story on this Time Magazine Articlehttp://time.com/3954934/nintendo-satoru-iwata/), may he rest in piece, I thought about how videogames influenced my life throughout the years.

The first real memory I have of videogames is playing Tetris and Super Mario Land on my Gameboy (handheld) in the very early 90's, so one might say I'm involved with the industry for about 2 decades now that I can remember. The last memory is from this morning on my daily commute playing on the Nintendo 3Ds (handheld). I'd say old habits die hard.

However gaming has gained huge popularity since back in the day and is now a multi-billion dollar business (http://www.statista.com/statistics/278181/video-games-revenue-worldwide-from-2012-to-2015-by-source/). Nowadays almost anyone got in contact with a videogame, even people who never played before, played at least once Candy Crush on their smartphone.

The important thing though is that gaming can improve your life and can be a reasonable addition to it. Studies show positive effects of videogames (http://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/publications/connect-information-technology/2012/04/30/video-games-and-the-future-of-learning.html), although there are studies stressing that playing games can have negative effects as well, but as always - consume in moderation!

Now let me show you, how I believe videogames make a positive contribution to us:

Affordable High Tech

Especially in the early rise of technology and the personal computer, videogames and their consoles were relatively cheap compared to other devices. Where Pcs were in the thousands, consoles are just a few hundred dollars, handhelds even less. So I think gaming was one of the best choices you could make to get in touch with some serious hard and software that was easy to use. Although the funcionality was very limited, it still was for many the first contact point with consumer electronics at home apart from the local arcades. The gaming industry also helped to implement new technology on a broader scale, do you remember the debate about the follow-up for the DVD? Will it be Blu-Ray or HD-DVD in 2004/2005? Today we know that Sony took a great leap with their integration of Blue-Ray compatability in their Playstation 3. Even the high price tag by launch of the console was still on par with current models of Blue-Ray players, which had lesser to offer at that time. Even today we can expect the next big leap from video games, long wished for virtual reality comes now aclose with products like the occulus rift (Sony) or the hololens (Microsoft). Future products that will definitely shape our future and may even impact the way we do business.

 Hand-Eye Coordination And Problem Solving

Some of the more hard facts that videosgames do to you. I observed it myself, that playing video games made me fearless to new technology and new types of interfaces or devices. Today I hold my smartphone while typing exactly like I hold my Gameboy 20 years ago, with both hands so that I could fully use both my thumps. I'm familiar with the concept and I wouldn't do it another way. The original Nintendo DS was released in 2004 and it had touch controls. So a child growing up in the 2000's had actually alsmost half a decade more expeirence in touch controls than yourself when you probably purchased your first smartphone in 2008/2009. Early on videogames,their consoles and controllers helps us to navigate complex situations through our hand-eye coordination. We need to interact with something that that is displayed on a screen and is controlled by a peripheral in our hands. So when I first was introduced to a laptop it was already natural to me to use a keyboard and a mouse to controll the action on the screen.

In addition to the coordiantion, videogames halp us strengthen our problem solving skills. In most games you are put into situations where you have to find a way to make things work, either a puzzle, finding objects or a combination of aquired skills. Anyway, you have to find a solution for a complex situation and have to use the knowledge you gained from before. This is basically what schools and universities are supposed to teach us. They give you a set of skills and then let you solve problems using these skills. When I observe myself I can see the fruits of this process everyday. Whenever I encounter problems or I have to deal with new software I quickly adapt to the new environment and learn to use the given features to my advantage. In gerneral I'd say video games made me very adaptive to changes, which of course helps you dealing with new technology.

 Keep you "young"/open for new experiences

Even growing up with videogames at my disposal and following the industry I'm regularly stunned, just how far thechnology has come. Be it in terms of graphic, production value or controlls. For example, the 2013 released GTA V game had a production budget of 250+ million dollar (http://www.ibtimes.com/gta-5-costs-265-million-develop-market-making-it-most-expensive-video-game-ever-produced-report).  The industry comes up with new concepts every year and changes their games, with a new flood of independent games, even relatively new and small developers get the chance to take part in this global and matured market.

 The important thing here is, it keeps you up to date with pop culture and helps you understand the newest trends. Let's just look again at GTA V. In the game you have access to your smartphone, which is called the "iFruit", with which you can even take selfies on the road. When you are interested, check out this article to find more fascinating references: http://www.ign.com/wikis/gta-5/References_to_Movies,_TV,_Games_and_Pop_Culture 

Another aspect is, that developers constantly change UIs (User Interfaces), integrate complex technology, for example you might use voice commands for a game, or give you new ways to explore or create your own content, look at Minecraft for example.

There are also games that specialize in training your brain. One of my favorite examples is from Nintendo, called: Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training. This game determines your brain age and helps you through mini games to improve on your memory, reaction time or mathematical skills. You can track your records and achievements and through daily routine, you might even become more productive or quicker on your feet. It is really amazing, how such small games, can have a real impact on your life and performance. I'd even recommend you to implement something like gaming on your daily commute, if you are interested in what else I'd recommend, why not check out my earlier blog post (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/make-most-out-your-commute-here-how-sebastian-f%C3%B6rster?trk=prof-post)

However, these are just a few observations I'd had in the past and I'll probably have another post to explain some more phenomena on this topic.

I'd really love to know if you have experience with videogames or if you'd even recommend them to your kids? I believe that we can achieve a better learning culture by embracing videogames in private and the concept of gamification (https://badgeville.com/wiki/)  in the workplace to truly boost performance.

Let me know what you think!

Thanks for Reading

Sebastian