Can games help people?

Discussion in 'General Lounge' started by jetpackgone, Oct 15, 2014.

  1. jetpackgone

    jetpackgone Always Learning Veteran

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    Something I've been wondering about. These days, games always seem to be mainly about entertainment, but what are ways that games can actually help people? Does anyone have any good examples or stories? (does not have to be an RPG Maker game, but an RPG Maker example would be cool!)

    If I continue with game development, I'd like to use it to help others, but am unsure how that would work, other than donating profits to a good cause.
     
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  2. Oddball

    Oddball Veteran Veteran

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    games can increase a variety of practical skills. Inductive reasoning, analytical reasoning, hand-eye coordnation, reaction time. It all depends on what skills the player needs to exersize to play the game. I'm trying myself to work inductive reasoning skills into my game so the player can figure out what the hell is going on. Myst Exersizes both inductive and deductive reasoning. more so inductive though i think. there are far more skills that can be developed then what iv'e mentioned. those were just the ones i could think of off the top of my head
     
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  3. Engr. Adiktuzmiko

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko Chemical Engineer, Game Developer, Using BlinkBoy' Veteran

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    For one, you could always make an educational game.


    A game that employs need for tactical thinking improves a person's mind. And even a simple game can make you need it to an extent.


    Even entertainment itself can be helpful as long as it isn't abused. An overdose of something good could be bad. :)
     
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  4. TheFroMofo

    TheFroMofo Hired Merc Veteran

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    There are also tons of games that focus on cognitive learning that can be used to help people with learning disabilities or ADHD. Seriously if you just google "cognitive learning videogames" you will find so much research that supports this. The idea is that the program starts with simple games that test memory and reflexes, but over time the difficulty increases forcing the player to focus more. Through this increase of focus is where the benefits are gained. Supposedly it's very difficult and mentally demanding work, but the reward is well worth it. 
     
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  5. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I'm not sure this counts, but I'll post it because to me, it seems relevant.

    Way back in the day, I used to play games for the entertainment value.  I didn't care what the game was.  I just needed the goals and then to figure out how to accomplish those goals.  Most games were fairly straightforward about those things.  It wasn't until I was I think 12 or 13 that I discovered RPGs.  Oh, I had played a few RPGs before.  I played Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy 1 on the NES way back in the day before I was even 10.  Oh no, when I was older and wiser, I discovered Super Nintendo RPGs.  Naturally, these required a metric crapload of reading.  Naturally, that wasn't that fun to me at that age.  Oh, I read books at that age (I remember reading The Lost World:  Jurassic Park and being amazed they'd let me read something with so many curse words in it at that age), but most of them were about dinosaurs or aliens and stuff.  I had only ever read a few novels at that point.  At the time, I was also reading at a level above where I was meant to (in Kindergarten... which is ages 5 to 6 for those not in the States, I was reading words like "important" and knowing their full meaning and context).  I was good at reading and I liked reading certain books...  But, I didn't really understand them.  They were just something to do when video games made me bored and I didn't have friends to hang out with.

    So, imagine my surprise when my friend (whom is not really much of a friend these days and is more a hyper competitive drug addled well-meaning jerkwad) invited me over to his house to watch him play Final Fantasy 6 (or 3 at the time, we didn't know there were some missing games in there).  He read all the dialogue to me as he played and that got me interested enough to read the dialogue myself.  He even loaned the game out to me later so that I could experience it myself.  Imagine my joy when I'd almost completed the game and wanted more of these things called "RPGs" to play.  I had discovered engaging storytelling and it would engross my entire life for the next 6 years.  I consumed every game he loaned to me and tried to watch him play ones that I couldn't play.  Final Fantasy 4 (two in the states at the time), Chrono Trigger, Secret of Evermore, Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy 9, Final Fantasy Tactics, 7th Saga, Breath of Fire, Super Mario RPG, the list was enormous.  Well, until the N64 came out and no real RPGs ever dropped for that game.  Or at least... none with a compelling story.  So, I switched to FPS games, as the storyline of Perfect Dark had entranced me.  I picked up StarCraft on the N64 and was engrossed in that as well.  All the stories I could consume and there just weren't enough!

    So, I got to High School.  I believed the only places I could get good and engaging stories were from video games.  Books were just too bland and boring.  They were "okay", but they weren't that interesting or engaging.  They were simply stories.  I read a myriad of books in High School to pass the time because I didn't own any consoles with new games, my friend had moved a couple towns over and could no longer hang out, and the internet or books was all I had left.  I didn't even have many friends left to make my own games with to tell some of my own simplistic video game stories with.

    So, I read.  It just so happens that because of a really stupid and crappy assignment in school known as "Accelerated Reader", I would find exactly what I was looking for.  The first book I picked up in the program was "The Three Musketeers".  It was so painful to try to read it that I gave up a chapter in and still didn't know what was going on.  I had picked it because if we did more than the points we needed to, we could skip weeks or months of the program.  It was a disaster.  I decided, "you know what?  All the books on this list suck.  If I'm going to read something, it may as well be something moderately interesting".  The book was called "Ender's Game".  To this day, it remains one of the single greatest books I've ever read.  You'll never guess what happened after I read it.

    I began consuming books the same way I had been consuming video games.  I dropped doing homework altogether.  I would only complete the easiest and most basic of assignments in my classes and turn them in.  Anything else, I would relegate is "pointless stupidity" and just take Zeros as grades on.  I spent nearly every hour of school reading if I could get away with it.  I was finishing books in 3 days or less.  I had read the first 4 books of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" in a week and a half.  My grades suffered, but I didn't care.  There were so many stories!  I was learning so much about life and science and math and English and everything else from reading these wonderful books!  I was learning psychology and sociology!  I was learning deductive reasoning!  I was picking up more knowledge in 3 weeks of solid book reading than I had in the 4 years of High School I had attended!  It was glorious!

    To my parents, it was worrying.

    Imagine my surprise when I discovered the video game called "Halo" on the Xbox.  My friend had come back from a few towns over to live back in my home town, but to attend school several towns over.  He introduced me back into the wonderful storylines of gaming.  Halo consumed my life for 3 years.  I played through it so many times that I knew almost every piece of dialogue backwards and forwards.  But, it also did something else to me.  Halo gave me the idea, "instead of just reading all these stories...  Why couldn't I just write my own?".  Video games helped me make the connection between reading and writing.

    So, I started writing things.  Most of it was fairly simplistic stuff.  You know, the kind of stuff you usually read on fanfiction boards or other places.  Not written terribly well and the story would be massively confusing and convoluted.  But, I kept playing video games.  Except now, I was playing them with a different intent.  I wasn't just playing them to enjoy a story.  Oh no, I was playing them to dissect a story.  How do you tell a story?  How do you create compelling characters?  How do you create and gauge pacing?  The more games I played, the more of these blanks I was able to fill in.  When I could glean no more from video game storylines, I delved back into books.  How do I make details?  How is dialogue constructed?  How do you make subtle things in your storyline?  How do you add side plots and call backs?  How do you make an ending that isn't just "happily ever after"?

    It was slow and hard work, but here I am today.  I'm not the best at expressing myself, but I would say that video games have helped me come a long way to learn how to write.  Oh, I'm still learning things along those lines, but it's much easier now.  Video games sparked my interest in consuming stories.  Later on, video games sparked my interest in writing my own stories.  After that, video games helped me learn how to even write better.

    So, for me, the answer is "yes, video games can help people".  It just may not be the kind of help you're thinking of or even expecting.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 15, 2014
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  6. Dreadshadow

    Dreadshadow Lv 38 Tech Magician Moderator

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    @jetpackgone check out my signature. Press spoiler. ;)
     
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  7. jetpackgone

    jetpackgone Always Learning Veteran

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    Wow, thanks for all the replies!

    Oddball, I've never played Myst, but I'll check it out, thanks! I personally prefer games that mentally challenge you in the way you described. I hope to incorporate those aspects into my game too!

    Engr. Adiktuzmiko, I definitely thought of educational games, but I feel many of the ones I've encountered focus too much on the education and not enough on the game aspect, though I did enjoy ClueFinders when I was little! And yeah, entertainment is good in moderation for sure. I guess overdose is more about the player than the game itself though.

    TheFroMofo, I'll google that as soon as I reply to these messages! I can definitely see how games can be a great teaching tool with increasing difficulty level and reward system. I think that could apply to all players, not just those with learning disabilities or ADHD. This makes me wonder how a game could teach someone without them realizing that they're being taught something?

    Tai_MT, wow thank you for sharing that touching story! I'm pretty amazed how games had such a powerful impact in your life. I was not allowed to play games much when I was younger, so I got engrossed in stories through books first, and then video games later on. I've also tried writing a little, but that was early high school for me. Best of luck with your writing! I'd love to read some of your works if that's ok. Also, I used Accelerated Reader in school too and yes, Ender's Game is an amazing book!

    Dreadshadow, cool I'll check out the game tutorial! I've started using RPG Maker VX Ace a few months ago, and I got the hang of the main functions, but I think this will help me with the finer details. Thank you!
     
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  8. Sennie

    Sennie Demon Slayer Veteran

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    Hi,

    Games can help people yes :) . Some games have puzzles in them which helps children and adults increase their problem solving skills. Whereas other games help improve your hand and eye coordination skills. I think most games help people :p

    Miffy6000
     
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  9. Matseb2611

    Matseb2611 Innovate, don't emulate Veteran

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    Let's just say that Dark Souls made me believe in the impossible. When I first began playing it about a couple of years back, my mind wasn't in such a good place and my anxiety was worse than usual. Though I was taking many other steps to combat it, I think playing Dark Souls at the time also helped to give me that extra drive to go head first into situations that look as though the odds are vastly against you. I think in some ways the game (with its nature of difficult yet rewarding gameplay) helped me to see that things which seem totally impossible at first glance can actually be done through sheer determination.

    Another case when games had a positive impact on me was all the way back in childhood. English wasn't my first language, but I was studying it from very early years. I wasn't, however, that good at it, but having to play many video games which were in English were making me in some ways eager to learn the language so that I could understand these games better. I remember one that especially had the most impact was an old FPS game called Gunmetal (the one by Mad Genius). I had a hugeass manual for it that listed all the vehicles, weapons, powerups, enemies, and other cool stuff in the game with detailed descriptions of each (all of which was in English of course), and I recall all those evenings I'd come to my mum to help me translate what was said in the manual, because I was that interested.
     
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  10. Sennie

    Sennie Demon Slayer Veteran

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    Hi,

    I like the way you think. Far, far to many people don't donate to needy causes. I always said if I created my own game I would put the proceeds towards a charity which would help others such as, Cancer charities or an Alzheimer's charity :)

    I think that's helping people enough...

    Miffy6000.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 15, 2014
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  11. BoluBolu

    BoluBolu Veteran Veteran

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    Easy, short, and powerful answer.
    A simple fun game obviously help people release his/her stress.
     
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  12. Sennie

    Sennie Demon Slayer Veteran

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    Ohhhh, very good answer. :)

    Probably the best answer...
     
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  13. whitesphere

    whitesphere Veteran Veteran

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    I believe games can help people.  For example, a study found microsurgeons who played a lot of video games which required eye-hand coordination had 20% fewer injuries and a more rapid patient recovery rate than those who didn't. 

    In my friend's nursing home, the residents play Wii Bowling which helps them with eye-hand coordination.

    Good games can teach basic skills (reading, typing, math) in a far more entertaining way to children, than the usual "memorize this and spit it back out" way of teaching. 

    I would imagine games that require a lot of puzzle solving skills/deductive reasoning would help older people resist mental deterioration.

    On Cracked (the web site), I read a case where an avid player of America's Army (real life Army created a first person shooter) literally saved someone's life using the skills he learned in the game.  You see, to become a Medic in the game, you must undergo actual real life medical training and pass it (I'd guess it's on the level of an EMT).

    Highly realistic computer simulations (not sure if you count those as "games" or not) are superbly helpful in training pilots (trainers can set up very difficult landings, run the pilot through them and if they fail, do it again), doctors (who can train on a fake "patient" which can be set up to have particular vitals, and said patient responds to care as a real one, etc), astronauts and so on.

    So, overall, I think games help a lot of people in quite a few ways, apart from the profit sharing thing.
     
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  14. jetpackgone

    jetpackgone Always Learning Veteran

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    Thank you all for the responses!

    Miffy6000, I'm glad you like how I think! :) Donating to a charity is definitely something I would want to do if people paid for my game. Part of the reason for my question is that if it's just about raising money, then game development isn't the only route and not necessarily the best, but it is something I enjoy and it's about the game too! I feel games tend to have a bad rep and that people who don't play sometimes look down on gaming, so I'm curious to learn all the ways that the game itself can help the player.

    Matseb2611, wow thank you for sharing! I didn't know that games, even the ones more geared towards entertainment, have helped so many people in different ways. That's awesome! :D

    BoluBolu, hahaha yes, I probably should have mentioned that one right away. But I wonder what benefits are more unique to video games? Are video games one of the better ways of relieving stress? And if so, how?

    whitesphere, thank you for all the examples! That medic example is awesome! I'm very interested in how games can help in practical ways like the ones you've mentioned. Looks like there are a lot more than I initially thought.
     
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  15. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I've got an example of an older game that subtly teaches you physics :D

    Look up "Scorched Earth".  It's a game in which you lob bullets and bombs at each other using stationary tanks.  If you've played "Gunpei", then you've played the reskinned rip off of Scorched Earth.  The game requires you to input your angle of fire, how much power behind the shot, sometimes you have to compensate for wind or terrain, and you can make the walls do different physics things (like be bouncy or just stop the shot altogether... or even wrap around the world) to change gameplay a little.  There's also a ton of different weapons in the game that all work differently so that you have to plan most every shot (unless you purchase things like MIRVs or Death's Head weapons... which are more about hoping you don't kill everyone on the map including yourself instead of trying to land direct hits).  There's also equipment like shields and parachutes.  It's a really fun and fantastic game that teaches you about physics without you actually meaning to learn them.
     
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  16. whitesphere

    whitesphere Veteran Veteran

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    @Tai_MT

    There is an open source version of Scorched Earth (Scorched Earth 3D) which runs on Linux and Windows.  It's at  http://www.scorched3d.co.uk/

    and is highly addictive.  They also added more crazy weapons like Satellite Strike (random strikes clustered around the target, one strike pretty much kills any tank)
     
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  17. Kaiju Master

    Kaiju Master Veteran Veteran

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    of course they can.  Some more than others like Mavis Beacon or certain racing games.
     
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  18. BoluBolu

    BoluBolu Veteran Veteran

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     Of course not, there are many ways to relieving stress, it just depends on the person itself, for example like me, I love to play music especially piano, I can relieve my stress faster just with playing a slow relaxing tune melody in piano, another example you can go to a vacation or just walking in the park, meet your firends or just talking with family, it's already helps in relieveing stress. But again games are made with one main purpose, that is for entertaining the player, and by entertained means we already relieving some stress, even it's a bit. Play light fun game, Plant vs Zombie, Feeding Frenzy, Racing Game, Shooter Game(beware of Touhou Series), Soccer maybe,PES, FIFA,  for me I love to play OSU or O2Mania, games with music is best to relieve stress, also play it with friends or family, multiplayer games is the best for relieving stress, a simple laughter with another person is enough to relieve your stress.

    One suggestion is not playing RPG Genre because RPG tend to give you more stress, you already know what I mean right XD? Hard Boss, Dungeon Puzzle, Game Over and forgot to Save, that will make us screaam and I believe it's not good.
     
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  19. Chiara

    Chiara Veteran Veteran

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    Some good points here. I'll add a few cents of mine.

    If a game is immersive enough, it can help by distracting from physical pain, personal problems; even help to outmaneuver a beginning phase of acute anxiety/depression by simply "not being there", since I'm currently out, saving some world or another (or figuring out this very friendly and not at all swearword-worthy puzzle).

    Personal story: I've been burnt out and technically homeless (temporarily staying at a friend's place) since April. I went a few months without any creative drive whatsoever, until I played Dragon Age: Origins and got my drive to create back. It's not a magical cure, but a help nonetheless. It keeps me going.

    Simply having a good game to play during a dark time has helped many people before, so a game doesn't have to be created with helping people in mind to actually help people.
    I've even heard about someone (been a while, can't remember details) who tried to combat their social anxiety by playing games in which they need to interact with NPCs via dialogue choices (think Bioware games or visual novels); or of other people who suddenly questioned their own (narrow) worldviews in contrast to whatever the game world presented them and became better people for it.
    I'm pretty amazed myself how many lives have already been touched and changed by "mere" entertainment products and I haven't even searched actively for these things. :) *hugs games 'cause they're great*

    As with relieving stress, @BoluBolu, but screaming in frustration is a great way to vent, isn't it (though not so great for everyone within earshot)? :D
     
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  20. Sennie

    Sennie Demon Slayer Veteran

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    Hey there,

    Hope you get back on your feet soon :)

    Miffy6000.
     
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