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Welcome! I am teaching law at St. Petersburg State University and engaged in legal practice with the international law firm Dentons. Major part of my research is connected to virtual worlds and massive multiplayer online games (a broad field which includes Internet law, video game law, virtual law and game studies). My legal practice is focused on providing support to computer game companies. This interest derives from my passion for computer games which I consider as one of the most important cultural artifacts ever created. Please note that this blog conveys my private opinion which is not necessarily shared by any organisations I am associated with. For more formal and detailed introduction please visit my website arkhipov.info which serves more as a 'business card'.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

5 Ways Video Games Help You In Real Life

I am getting annoyed with discussions blaming video games. I firmly believe that video games are not bad, rather they are neutral at worst, and, if used wisely, may be quite helpful.

You can hear some stories how video games ruined people's life. Trust me: the problem was NOT that such people were playing video games, the problem was that they did not do anything else.

Furthermore, video games are not an escape from reality (just as literature, movies and other media) - they are a part of reality themselves. And as all things are interconnected, advancement in video games may have positive impact on performance in other activities.

Here is my list:

1. Training of "intellectual" skills

The skills required to deal with information effectively, in particular attention, memory, width of eyesight (particularly important for quick and effective reading) and reaction.

Can you have a bad memory if you memorize and operate with the rules of 1000+ Magic: The Gathering cards? Don't you improve your reading speed when playing text-based roleplaying MUDs? This list can be continued.

These skills are often overlooked, but their training really helps for day-to-day business practice.

2. Learning a foreign language

If language teachers agree that role-playing games (as teachnig method) is one of the best, why don't we do the next step and say that learning a foreign language through a MMORPG is even better?

My "applied English grammar" greatly improved during my roleplaying sessions in
Achaea, and I overcame my speaking block while raiding with voice chat in World of Warcraft.

Want to learn foreign language? Install a language pack for your game client.

3. Training of organisational skills

Many activities in modern games, especially the online ones, require a lot of management and planning.

You need to structure your in-game activities to be ready for raiding.

Furthermore, you need to do quality time management if you want to raid when you are a student/employee/whatever. Sacrificing other activities for games is not acceptable, no way. On the other hand the desire to play is natural. To avoid any real life conflicts and losses you need to plan your time well.

And, speaking of the management skills, who said that managing a group of 25 real players to fight a dragon is much different from leading a project team in a business?

4. Making contacts and building network

It is a matter of fact that there is a lot of gamers who are neither kids nor nerds (in negative sense of this word).

Games may work as a kind of clubs where it is guaranteed that the visitors have at least one thing in common to start a conversation.

Furthermore, I recently read a couple of interesting interviews about pay-to-win browser games in Russia. All of a sudden, there is a lot of businessmen playing them just for networking. Expensive in-game attributes work as entry ticket to the club.

As the average age of gamers increases, this aspect should offer much more opportunities in future.

5. Avoiding real-life moose attacks      

Kidding (to certain extent). There is a widely known real story about 12-years old Norwegian boy who went for a walk to a forest with his sister. Eventually, they aggroed a moose. However, the boy used his World of Warcraft knowledge to taunt the moose and feign death afterwards. The moose went away, the children were safe. 

If we try to find some general lesson behind this story it may be the following one. Many video games (a) contain real-life-relevant information, (b) work as abstract models of certain aspects of real life. 

It is not surprising that people can learn something important from computer games, just as from any other popular media. The moose example is mostly a joke, but there is some truth behind every joke.   

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