Abitur 2012 Topic 1: “Can people actually learn for real life by playing simulation games? Choose an example or a genre that you are familiar with and explain its merits and limitations.” Von Konrad Heidler.
Play Makes Jack a Smart Boy
Of course you have read about those video game addicts that play their favorite game 24/7 while at the same time neglecting any other needs. And of course I don’t have to tell you that these are nothing but rare exceptions, whereas moderate video gaming can actually make you smarter.
To begin with, simulation games can improve strategic thinking. If a game forces you to plan ahead and take the consequences into consideration, you will most probably start doing so in real life as well. “Sim City” for example is about establishing and organizing your own city. To succeed, you have to anticipate your citizens’ needs and react accordingly. Once you have caught on to that, you will carry this way of thinking into your everyday life.
Another aspect of how simulation games can affect your life is that they let you experiment in a close-to-real environment. You are able to tamper with parameters that you could never modify in real life. To come back to our city simulation game, you can see what happens to a city if you don’t establish a police department or if you raise taxes immensely. You gain insight into bigger systems that are hard to grasp otherwise because they are so complex.
The most important thing you will achieve from gaming is the improvement of social skills. It may sound weird at first because the cliché is that gamers sit in front of their computer or game console all day, not even noticing how their social relationships are withering. But most games are based on a complex community of players that interact and rely on each other. So simulation games will teach you how to take responsibility for others and how to cooperate well in a team.
All in all simulation games cannot replace real life, but they can be a great aid in learning and education. And thus we should not see them as a threat to mental development but rather as an enrichment to everybody’s real life.