Saturday, February 19, 2011

Games-Can they be good for us?

I am a gamer. Playing games is an intregal part of who I am. Playing games is a good thing. I can remember sitting on Paul Filbert's front porch in the summer time and playing Avalon Hill war games or Rummy Royale. I can remember playing chess in Hankie Pauley's kitchen on Friday nights with the glorius wooden chess he brought back from his trip to Mexico. I can remember the giant Risk tournaments we played over entire weekends. Joey Chachulski usually won them. I can remember designing lionel railroad empires in Jeffery Pyzinski's basement or creating rockets out empty CO2 cartridges and launching them filled with matchheads for solid fuel and soldered on sheet metal wings for guidance. Kermit Avenue had the best young Diplomacy players in Buffalo, New York I am sure! Our imaginations raced with new ideas and expanding horizons all of the time. We were not stressed, we did not feel depressed at all. We empowered ourselves.

Games are good for us. They empower us. A recent book by Dr. Jane McGonagal, Reality is Broken , has opened my mind to all types of new ideas, particularly the new science of happiness and the concepts of flow and fiero. Games produce flow and fiero. It makes for great reading and spurs ideas.

Couple Reality is Broken with Johann Huzinga's brilliant Homo Ludens and you will gain new insight into human nature.

Video games also may help us to cope with the crazy world that speeds up every day and infuses us with great anxiety and depression. A research study from the East Carolina University cited the following statistics about human beings in this world we live in from the National Institute of Mental Health:

According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States an estimated 20.9 million American adults (9.5% of the U.S. population age 18 or older) suffers from a mood disorder, and more than two thirds of those (14.8 million U.S. adults) are cases of major depression. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people aged 15 to 44. Depressive disorders often co-occur with anxiety disorders, and approximately 40 million American adults (about 18 percent of all U.S. adults) have an anxiety disorder.

The study then when on to explore what effect playing video games has on subjects such as those refereneced above. Playing games like Bejeweled, Bookworm, and Peegle from Popcap games significantly reduced depression, stress and anxiety levels in the study groups. All of these games are free by the way and blocked by most school web

filters. I play all of these games and am particularly drawn to them after particularly stressful days at work or when I am feeling overwhelmed by my task and to-do lists. The results of the study are quite startling and deserve to be studied and applied in our schools.Video Games Can Reduce Depression And Anxiety - Study
should be read by every teacher in America.

No comments: