Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Psychology of Games and why they are very important for kids and for adults

Regardless of the general opinion that games are a waste of time, I will prove to you that they actually are very important for adults and they are even more important for character building in kids, because they teach skills that are extremely valuable for the future success in life.

According to John Gray, author of the famous book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus", in order to relax from the stress experienced in real life, men often feel the need to disengage their mind from the problems of the day. In order to get unstuck from our own problems, we tend to focus on solving other little problems, like reading the news, watching sports, playing a game, and so forth. I would like to argue that games are the best form of distraction as they not only help us detach from everyday stress, but also make us feel good and more confident by helping us prove to ourselves that we can still overcome different obstacles and achieve many goals, regardless of how bad we could feel at any given moment. If we don't let games become an obsession, they not only entertain us, but they can help us relax and can also contribute to improving our self-image and self-esteem.

Games are even more important for kids, but for completely different reasons. Childhood is the part of life during which we get prepared for our future as adults. Games let children do that through simulating situations where the trial and error exercises don't have the same impact as failure in real life. More importantly, achieving success in games builds confidence and motivation. Those two character traits make all the difference in the world for the success of the child later on, when it becomes a grown up. You can find more on the importance of motivation and confidence in the bestseller book "See you at the top" by Zig Ziglar and in the award winning audio recording "The Strangest Secret" by the very famous motivational speaker Earl Nightingale.

Why do people love overcoming obstacles and setting goals? Why are those so important for our success in file? The study of Evolutionary Biology has found the answers to these questions too and we will now explore this subject in the next paragraph.

By default, humans are some greedy creatures. We always want more than what we already have and we are never completely satisfied. After achieving one goal, we always set another, even more demanding than the one before. This may sound very offensive to many people, but in reality it is not all that bad, because greediness is the very reason for the evolution and advancement of the human species. We need motivation to reach new heights and that motivation is driven by our strive for always wanting more and more out of life. Once motivated enough, we set a new goal and we constantly fight for it through overcoming countless obstacles until it is eventually achieved. Sure enough, sometimes we tend to give up if we start thinking that our goal is impossible to reach. Also, some people tend to give up more often than others, because they think they have failed after just a few attempts. Others keep fighting and never stop until they succeed. Failure is not an option for them. For people like that we say that "everything they touch turns to gold", but that doesn't mean that everything comes naturally easy to them. All of us, without any exception, start out like that in the very beginning of our wondrous journey through the miracle of life. It is a fact that babies don't ever give up on learning how to walk even though they fail countless times before actually walking completely on their own. The situation is exactly the same regarding the process of learning to talk. If we didn't have that strive for achieving goals genetically programmed in our genes, we would have never been able to walk, talk or do anything else that makes us different from the animal kingdom.

We just explained why, from evolutionary perspective, humans enjoy setting goals and overcoming obstacles. Using the system of trial and error, given the safe conditions of no effect in the real world, games are arguably the best way to teach children some significant personal qualities such as patience, persistence, motivation, critical thinking, taking calculated risks, making important choices based on educated guessing, growing strive for exploring, discovering and learning. All of the above result in building healthy self-esteem image and personal confidence. We already covered the importance of those character traits for the future life success in the text above.

Of course, not all games teach the same lessons and some of the game genres have more real life value than others, so in my next post we will take a closer look at some of the genres and some of the games that I have experienced myself. I will try to break them down to their real world values and highlight the subtle messages they instill in the mind of the player while teaching important skills.

Follow me to a deeper look into the benefits of playing diffenent game genres 

Peter Agapov
Game Designer at
President and Chief Executive Officer of American Limo Naperville
Former Road Captain of Marine One at Operation "Welcome You Home"

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