Board games, computer games, sports, video games-games are all around us. Why is gaming so important? For younger kids gaming is important because it teaches hand-eye coordination, counting, colors and matching, as well as important skills like sharing and taking turns. Gaming is relevant for older kids because it also teaches teamwork (not to mention sharing and taking turns which is important at any age). But it has far reaching benefits that scientists are just learning about.
In 2009 a paper was published by Richard Haier,a pediatric neurologist and professor emeritus at the School of Medicine at the University of California at Irvine. His studies showed that after three months of Tetris playing that teenage girls were not only better at the game but their brains were more efficient. A paper published in Archives of Surgery shows the results of the laparoscopic surgical skills of surgeons that are gamers versus surgeons that aren't in a simulated skills course. The results were very interesting: surgeons who are current video game players made 32% fewer errors, were 24% faster and scored 26% better overall than their nonplayer colleagues. And surgeons who had previously played games for more than three hours did even better-they made 37% fewer errors, were 27% faster and scored 42% better overall than those who'd never played. Other studies suggest that memory and vision also improves for those that play video games.
In an article from The Boston Globe from October 12 2009, Cheryl Olson, co-director of the Center for Mental Health and Media at Massachusetts General Hospital is quoted as saying: “There’s still a tendency to think of video games as a big wad of time-wasting content. You would never hear a parent say we don’t allow books in our home, but you’ll still hear parents say we don’t allow video games in our home.Games are a medium. They’re not inherently good or bad.’’
There is more to learn about what affects gaming has on its players. What we do know is that games are fun, promotes bonding with friends and family members, and helps us develop critical thinking and strategy skills. And we pretty much knew that without scientists telling us right?
This Saturday will be the 3rd annual National Gaming Day, which was developed by the American Library Association to bring communities together through their libraries via the social, educational, and fun medium of all different kinds of games. The Des Plaines Public Library will be participating in an all ages event. Stop by the 2nd floor information desk and check out a board game to play with your kids. Come into the 2nd floor program room to test your skills at Wii bowling or figure out how to get ahead in Mario Kart.
If you can't make it in to the library why don't you pull a board game out of the closet and gather the family together to play. Or check out our cd-rom collection and get one of our awesome educational games where kids are having fun while learning. Or put on a jacket and race the kids outside! The weather is supposed to be about 50 this weekend. A nice game of catch or tag will warm everyone up right away. However you decide to celebrate, make games a part of your weekend.