Playing video games could help young people develop the communication and mental adaptability skills they need to succeed at university, research by the University of Glasgow suggests.
An eight-week trial involving two groups of undergraduates revealed that the group assigned commercial video games including action role-playing, fantasy and adventure games Borderland 2, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Reign of Terror, showed improvements in communication, adaptability and resourcefulness.
These skills are often referred to by employers as “graduate attributes.”
Matt Bar, a lecturer in information studies, who conducted the research said the study suggests graduate skills may be improved in a relatively short amount of time, with gains reported over eight weeks representing just 14 hours of game play.
“Modern video games often require players to be adaptable and resourceful, and finding multiple ways of accomplishing a task. The way games are designed often encourages critical thinking and reflective learning, commonly cited as desirable attributes in graduates. “
“My research is perhaps what every parent may or, in the case of some, may not like to hear,” added Matt Barr. “This work demonstrates that playing commercial video games can have a positive effect on communication ability, adaptability and resourcefulness in adult learners, suggesting that video games may have a role to play in higher education.
Mr Barr added: “The results of the randomised controlled trial described here suggest the popular discourse around games’ alleged ill effects should be tempered by considerations of the potential positive outcomes of playing video games.”
Stuart Macdonald, freelance education psychologist, said parents needed to take a balanced view of video games.
“Games can help youngsters develop certain skills but they are not a substitute for life skills gained by talking to others and learning to work alongside other people.”