As an 80’s teenager who enjoyed video games, I always felt a little stung by the criticism that video games were a waste of time with no educational value.
At the time, my response was that playing video games improved hand eye-coordination and problem solving on the fly.
Those little line drawing graphics and the boxy 4 colour pixel characters with the never ending levels, also taught patience and, if you paid enough attention, you could crack the pattern of game controlled monsters.
The day I rolled over a million points in Asteroids and learned the one patter to eliminate every row of Space Invaders – and hit the bonus ships – was when I felt I was done with video games.
Well, until Nintendo. With the 254 cartoony characters and backgrounds anyway. But, I put console gaming away and played computer games.
Here’s where the educational value of video games was more apparent. Especially with the emergence of games like SimCity, Civilization and any games that included resource management and trade to expand the game beyond mere make a city, build an army and attack the next guy’s city.
Games where you have citizens that extract resources and other citizens who can turn those raw resources in to products for trade teaches an important lesson that any gamer knows, but politicians seem to not grasp the concept.
We not only get more money for refined and manufactured goods than for raw materials like logs and crude oil – but we also ensure more employment and a diverse economy.
With a more diverse economy, we become less sensitive to economic shifts, with more people employed, there’s not only taxes to collect, but their spending as consumers returns money to the economy and into other industries.
With a policy of exporting raw materials, we aren’t only exporting those materials for money, we’re also exporting employment for no return.
Perhaps future economic policy advisors should spent time playing video games and less time in classes.