Video games have been a hot topic for years and the nicest thing that was said about them, was that they are just a waste of time.
But recently there have been arguments that games could be used to make this world into a better one.
It may seem crazy at first.
What good could it do, to play Candy Crush or Angry Birds all day long?
Or have we just been blinded by the negative press games have been getting?
What potential do video games really have?
Studies that used to focus only on the negative effect of gaming, such as violence or addition, have started exploring other outcomes.
Jane McGonigal, a game designer, has done her own research to prove to the world that gamers do not need to feel guilty about spending time in the virtual worlds.
According to her, people who play games can be more optimistic and hopeful in their daily lives.
Many games teach them to work in a team and be resilient when it comes to failures.
Games can be very rewarding and when you have accomplished something considered hard you will feel satisfied and extremely good about yourself.
Some companies have even requested that you put your gaming experience on your CV.
But do you really want to tell your future boss how many wipes it took you to clear an instance or raid?
Or how many hours you spent robbing banks? Perhaps not.
Gabe Zickermann, author and a gamer himself, believes that games can be used to motivate children.
Used the right way games can be a fun learning experience for them. With this they are able to get better at reading as well as solving problems.
In this process game mechanics and thinking are used to motivate people to solve problems.
Zickermann argues that, like in games, people should be rewarded and that teamwork should be supported.
McGonigal created a game called SuperBetter that was initially supposed to help her get better.
She was suffering from a serious depression.
Not long after feeling better she changed the game and opened it up online. The feedback she got was extremely positive.
Her game had been helping people with various health problems such as depression, terminal illnesses or cancer.
Playing is essential to humans
Dr. Stuart Brown, a psychiatrist, has worked with murderers. His work has showed that playing is important to every human being and that the lack of it can lead to violence.
It can also be a hindrance in personal development.
According to him gaming helps personal growth.
Transfer from game to reality
One problem however is that while players spent a lot of time and energy in games, they are often less interested in putting the same time into their lives.
It is just more interesting to kill a raid boss in World of Warcraft than running errands.
And even quests such as bring milk from here to there are more interesting in a game than in reality.
Unfortunately we don’t get those experience points and currency for doing those jobs.
But perhaps we can learn to reward ourselves a little every time we finish a certain “quest” in real life.
McGonigal thinks that immersive games are the answer to that problem and is already working on several.
Maybe then we can put the addition of “just one more game/round/instance/quest” to a good use and make this world a better place.