Playing video games is serious business

JAMA: “The efficacy and mechanism of action of games targeting health outcomes are not well defined. Time spent playing entertainment games can enhance psychomotor skills, judgment, and high-level social skills such as leadership and collaboration.3 However, evidence also exists for the negative influence such media exposure can have on the health of children, particularly those exposed to themes of violence and aggression.

Successful entertainment game designs draw on a well-understood set of features, such as a narrative setting that motivates goals, systems of feedback, points, levels, competition, teamwork, trading, and often, self-representation using an avatar. The extent to which a game is engaging (and useful for health objectives) depends on the skill with which these are implemented as a package for a particular audience.”

I encourage everyone to go to the JAMA website and read the rest of the commentary, it’s quite interesting. I think video games have their place in society along with every other piece of technology we’ve developed over the past 20 years. I can attest to the fact that video games can be used to sharpen your reflexes, dexterity and your ability to make some pretty quick decisions. In addition games can be used to simulate complex situations in which different decisions lead to significantly different outcomes. I find value in that. Unfortunately they can also be used to simply kill time and lay waste to ambition and imagination. I don’t find value in that.

How can this all be applied to healthcare? I don’t know. No one knows for sure. One thing I think video game technology is good for is advancing computer software and hardware technology, which in turn trickles down into healthcare; eventually. And that’s certainly a good thing.

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