Anyone here read Animorphs when they were kids? I know I have. Animorphs were a series of children’s books that features a group of teenagers who are tasked to save the world from a secret alien invasion. They were gifted by a prince of an alien race – the power to acquire and bond with the dna of living creatures and the ability to turn into them at will. These stories were inspiring and much like the characters in video games, they have inspired us to be something greater than ourselves. You would imagine yourself in the boots of Link, traversing the dangerous lands, rescuing the princess and saving the day. Or you can be an everyday plumber who stands up against an evil threat when everyone else has thrown in the towel. Recent games have enhanced this inspiring feature. Games like Assassin’s Creed and Halo immerses you in the shoes of these different fictional heroes and along the way you learn from them and how you can be just as good or as confident as them in real life.
Especially in the case of Assassin’s Creed, the game has inspired many people to follow in the footsteps of these heroes. The game has inspired a new generation of people to train and learn the art of parkour. It’s a thrilling workout that’s become more susceptible to the public popularised by video games.
What do you guys think?
Here’s some old research from Australian Pax a few months ago. According to Young and Well CRC CEO, Associate Professor Jane Burns, video games do have a positive effect on mental wellbeing. The key findings highlighted in her research shows that:
- Moderate gameplay can contribute to positive emotions, emotional stability and the reduction of emotional disturbances.
- Positive mental wellbeing has been associated with videogame play as a means of relaxation and stress reduction.
- Depressed mood is significantly lower, and self-esteem higher, in those that play games.
There will always be someone who criticise research like this, but I personally feel that this is true, video games has been a powerful remedy in many of our lives. If you’ve been following my Facebook page you would know that I really would love to hear people’s opinions and stories about what they think about this video games health issue. A few minutes ago someone sent me a message about how video games have changed the lives of someone close to them. Here’s what was written:
“Growing up, there were points when I could not understand my younger brother. His ADHD, mixed with a disruptive childhood, meant that he was withdrawn and incapable of focusing on anything long enough to bond with other people. He didn’t understand how people worked, and was all but incapable of making friends. He hated reading, and had no interest in stories or sharing ideas.
And then we got Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. He couldn’t read the subtitles, but he would sit there as we read them to him. He would listen, and first began to understand the importance of honing skills. He was given a world he could live in, and learnt the power of stories. And finally, this was something he could discuss with other people. Here, friendship began.”
Video games can heal. In time I think video games are capable of being more than just simple entertainment. We’re taking steps to accomplish this goal, but until people take video games more seriously we’ll continue to strive for the light.
Since I posted an article on DDR this time I’ll be discussing some other games which train hand-eye coordination, limb strength and encouraging people to get more active.
The game I’ll be focusing on this time is the Taiko no Tatsujin series which is a bunch of musical rhythm games which uses a large circular drum. The game has an album of songs on different difficulties and the goal of the game is to hit the drum based on the different symbols on the screen. I’ve had some experience playing Taiko in the past on the PSP handheld console, it’s entertaining fun listening and following certain rhythmic music from a variety of genres such as Japanese folktale to popular songs from Japanese anime and television dramas.
^This is a level I will never reach.
Playing Taiko in the arcade with an actual drum is on a whole other level. I can tell you that after playing it, my wrists hurt like hell, I was sweating like crazy and I couldn’t catch up. Taiko is definitely a game which requires strong hand-eye coordination, stamina and wrist strength and goes to show how the affordance of video game controllers have changed in a number of creative ways which can be quite physically challenging.
The western equivalent of this game would probably be the Guitar Hero series and Rockband series. That game was more oriented towards playing with friends and is most famous for its drum kit and guitar controllers. Those games are not as tiring but I would argue that it focuses more on training the player’s mental health and trains the player’s brain activity.
^I remember a joke a friend made about how he got hospitalised playing Through the Fire and Flames on expert mode
I asked friends on Facebook what types of games are similar to these and they’ve come up with a few of their own.
A few months ago I stayed overseas in Hong Kong over summer holidays. While there I met up with a few old friends back in secondary school and he took me to the arcade with him. The short time I spent there I was engrossed in this giant arcade machine that looks like a futuristic washing machine. The game is called Maimai+ and I think it takes these forms of highly interactive arcade games on a whole new level.
This game doesn’t test strength unlike all the other games I’ve mentioned thus far but it tests hand-eye coordination more than anything else.
If you guys got any other suggestions I’ve missed out on, let me know!
I’ve been tackling the issue of health benefits related to video games for over a month now. Admittedly these benefits are pretty broadly covered and common sense amongst avid gamers. Stuff about improving dexterity, hand-eye coordination and exercise are definitely good advantages to playing video games. Parents think about playing video games as a form of luxury or past time for kids who’s got some time to spare outside of school. And they sometimes thinks that this obsession about video games affects their growth. But how about the less fortunate people who need to play video games to be distracted?
Today, I stumbled upon an organisation called, ‘Child’s Play’.
It’s a charity organisation funded by the gaming industry which hopes to improve the lives of sick and ill children in hospitals all across the world. This organisation supplies hospitals with gaming consoles, video games, books and toys to help children. The organisation accepts donations from people and has an online wishlist showing what games these children would want to play.
Discovering this organisation has changed my mindset about health benefits of video games. Being distracted by video games also acts positively to aid mental health. Millions of children across the world struggle against terminal diseases and terrible disabilities everyday, in their eyes video games are a means of escape, to help relieve them of the harsh reality that they face.
Here’s a link to their website:
This is some powerful stuff, especially the testimonial section.
Here’s an interesting article about how video games have been used as pain relief for patients. I’ve been talking a lot about how video games can help improve medical health but this is the first time I’ve seen it used a little differently!
Now that I have discussed a bit about the mental health benefits by playing more video games, this I want to change things up a bit and talk about physical benefits.
I read this article about this term called, ‘Exergaming‘ in an article by WebMD’s Wendy Fries (the irony).
In that article she talked about some research in relation to the new generation of motion sensing video games. Motion sensors are becoming more prevalent in the next generation of video games. When we were kids, the only feedback and interaction we have with our Nintendo was the television screen and small buttons on the controller. There are definitely more things to pay attention to when playing games, Playstation, Wii and Xbox controllers all have built in motors that can shake to suggest some kind of linkage between what you see on the screen and the actions partaking in the game.
Now let us take that a bit further. Remember when kid Elijah Wood showed up in Back to the Future 2? Well the one line we all remember him saying was, “You have to use your hands?”, now cut back to the present time, we have the Kinect, Playstation Move and Wii Fit. In these games your body is what substitutes are physical controller.
I always feel these games are subtle messages to gamers. For example playing games like God of War has Kratos doing violent attacks against all sorts of mythological creatures, and not to mention all that escalated walking and running he had to do to get to different areas. Well now YOU have to do all these to make him move, suck it!
So back to Exergaming. So Exergaming is a term to talk about video games that combines physical exercises with physical gameplay. Here’s a diagram that shows the amount of energy you can burn out just by playing these games on your Kinect.
Calorie burn/30 minutes
Try it out, burning this amount of calories just for 30 mins is actually pretty good work!
I’ll end it here with a funny video: