The Benefits of Gaming?
I recently had the opportunity to speak at a conference with Dr. Aaron Delwiche and Dr. Jennifer Henderson discussing gaming. Remember a couple weeks back we did a blog about the research the two professors from Trinity University did with over 34,000 Wizard101 players? There were other professors and professionals on the panel and in the audience. The overall tenor of the panel was very positive and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that took place both during the panel as well as after. That being said there was one topic that came up that really bothered me. It seems that very little work/research is being done on potential benefits of gaming. From the conversations I had it seemed that a great amount of academic research and funding was going to studies trying to tie video gaming to real world violence or to uncover the downsides to video gaming.
The reason I found this concerning is because over the last 5 years we have been flooded by communications from our players on the benefits they experienced in Wizard101 (and now Pirate101). I explained in the panel that we have had thousands of submissions of fan art and fan fiction over the years in an era where creative writing and art programs are being cut from our schools. I also talked about hundreds of messages from parents of autistic children gushing about how significantly their children have progressed interacting socially in Wizard101. I brought up the stories of children struggling to read that went up multiple reading levels over a summer while playing because they were so intent on reading the story. There are also stories of people that were housebound or separated from family members that once again have great involvement with community, friends and family through our games. I told the professors these cases in hopes of a better understanding as to why more research on positive impacts weren’t being pursued. The answer I got back about why no one is researching the benefits of gaming: government funding isn’t there for this and the press doesn’t seem to think positive findings drive traffic and sales.
I’m not suggesting parents have a lack of caution or oversight on the levels of violence our children are exposed to or that we shouldn’t have research try to understand the impact. I have always believed that all activities (physical, educational, entertainment) should be in moderation and balanced. But I really wish that the academic world and even press coverage of POSITIVE things that come from gaming could get more traction. As a side note, I was encouraged by President Obama’s positive comments on the potential career opportunities for children that could be exposed to game design at an early age.
I would love to hear if you agree with me and if you have had or seen positive experiences from your gaming. Thank you!
Vice President of Marketing