Zombies, Unicorns, and Pooping in the Jungle

 
 

Happy Monday Heroes! 

Hope last week was good for all of you. For me, it ended on a pretty awesome note. If you haven’t heard of the show Kicking and Screaming, it pairs survivalists with people who know very little/nothing about living in nature. At first, I was completely uninvested as my fiancé started watching. But then Nati Casanova (aka the ZombiUnicorn) appeared on the scene. This unicorn-haired gaming goddess hops onto the island and I knew immediately that a.) I was going to be obsessively watching this show and b.) despite my fiancé's love of reality TV, he was going to have to limit his enjoyment to when I was present because this was my show. As the episodes progressed, viewers were given insights into each contestant's life, fears, and dreams. For me, both as a gamer and a feminist, I couldn't help but root for her as she struggled, fought, and conquered. Her performance epitomized what it means to be a gamer – to be determined in the face of challenges, to respect both the game and other players as vehicles for personal self-improvement, and to push yourself beyond what you think you're capable of.  

 

Not to say that I called it, but I distinctly remember telling my fiancé that I thought she was going to win because gamers know how to BRING IT!

 

Much like how recess is modernly being found to have not only physical but social benefits for children, emerging research is starting to reveal the benefits of playing videogames.

How one study, published in American Psychologist, categorized games for the purpose of understanding specific benefits.

These benefits, which can be seen in the areas of cognition, motivation, emotion, and social interaction, are just beginning to be understood. While this doesn't address some of the negative aspects present within some games (sexism, bigotry, etc.), it does give us some inspiring goals for the future. By encouraging gaming within the context of losing fairly, being persistent, and building teamwork, teachers could reach their students in an entirely new way. The best part is that kids are already predisposed to playing games as a part of their psychology. If we allow games to be a portal to real-world success, it could change the way that we view gaming in our society.  

I'll leave you with this conclusion from the above cited article: 

"We began this article by summarizing the rich and long history of the study of play. Video games share many similarities with traditional games and likely provide benefits similar to those provided by play more generally. Both traditional and video games are fundamentally voluntary in nature, they can include competitive and cooperative objectives, players immerse themselves in pretend worlds that are safe contexts in which negative emotions can be worked out, and games allow a sense of control with just enough unpredictability to feel deep satisfaction and intense pride when formidable goals are finally reached. Yet video games today and those on the radar for development in the near future are also unique forms of play. Video games are socially interactive in a way never before afforded. Increasingly, players are gaming online, with friends, family, and complete strangers, crossing vast geographical distances and blurring not only cultural boundaries but also age and generation gaps, socioeconomic differences, and language barriers. The large amount of time invested in playing video games may also mean that they provide qualitatively different experiences than conventional games. Although we may remember spending whole weekends playing Monopoly with siblings and neighbors, few traditional games can boast the weeks and months of game play that many video games provide. These differences in space and time likely hold wholly new benefits and risks that have yet to be conceptualized. 

After pulling together the research findings on the benefits of video games, we have become particularly inspired by the potential that these games hold for interventions that promote well-being, including the prevention and treatment of mental health problems in youth. Remarkably, there are very few video games that have been developed with these aims in mind. Given how enthralled most children and adolescents are with video games, we believe that a multidisciplinary team of psychologists, clinicians, and game designers can work together to develop genuinely innovative approaches to mental health interventions." 

Congratulations ZombiUnicorn, and thank you for being a role model for gamers everywhere.

-DH