Parents and teachers have always thought that gaming is a waste of time and the cause of bad academic results. However, new research shows that it could actually help develop social and cognitive. Gaming is one of the most inclusive and accessible activities for students, and despite stereotypes, professional gaming is becoming a serious business with more and more job opportunities every day.

College Gaming

With that being the case, gaming isn’t just about living in a virtual world anymore, it can actually have an influence in the real world, and that influence is only getting bigger. It’s time for colleges to start investing in academic programs related to video games to help prepare students for this growing industry.

Video games develop various skills that are useful in the physical world.

Video games have always had a bad reputation. What’s a stereotypical gamer? A teenager with glasses as thick as the bottom of a bottle, sitting alone in a dark room staring expressionlessly at a computer screen. Many critics have branded video games as “useless” or even “harmful” for intellectual growth.

But all that has been proven wrong. According to a study published in the American Journal of Play, there are many games that can actually improve several psychological aspects such as memory, attention, and decision-making. Another report in 2013 showed playing action games help combat dyslexia, sometimes even more than traditional treatment methods.

Gaming Dislexia
Playing games can help combat dyslexia in young children

Video games also boost “computational thinking,” which is the ability to break down an issue and analyze its patterns to come up with a solution. This is an advanced method of problem-solving that has become incredibly important in the professional world nowadays. A study conducted by scholars at Columbia University and Northwestern University in 2016 claimed that games which encourage exploration and allow players to create their own stories and objectives are especially good at bolstering this mindset.

Additionally, contrary to common beliefs, video games can even promote social skills and act as a platform for people to establish relationships. Not only that, the stereotypical portrayal of gamers as nerdy teenage boys is untrue anymore (if it ever was true): Today, over 70% of gamers are 18 years old or above, and 45% are female.

Opportunities for careers in eSports

A report from Newzoo shows that competitive gaming leagues generated a revenue of $655 million in 2017 and over $900 million in 2018. Additionally, the number of people who watch eSports across the world is predicted to reach 550 million in 2021. To put into perspective, this number, if it really comes true, would represent a nearly 100% increase compared to 2016. It is clear that the professional gaming scene is skyrocketing in recent years, and with it come many career opportunities, from game designers and consultants to communication specialists.

Esports
eSports are blooming in recent years

Schools need to prepare students for this growing field

Already some universities are taking steps in bringing professional gaming to students by forming eSports teams. Since 2014, over a hundred schools in the United States have joined the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), then there is still plenty of room for more to jump onto the train.

Furthermore, universities could create more space for in-campus eSports activities, such as eSports clubs. These kind of activities are not as physically demanding as physical sports, so they are available to a wider range of students. Besides, eSports don’t require much personal equipment, so it is cheaper than many other activities once the basic commodities are set up.

Sure, in the end only a few students will be able to become successful pro gamers, but if they are equipped with the necessary knowledge at school, many others will be able to find a career in the wider eSports industry. For example, the average game designer in the US earns over $88,000 (Rs 6,280,000) annually.

College Gamers
College students should be prepared for the growing gaming industry

 

The rise of eSports has an influence on the medical field as well. These days, it is not uncommon for pro gaming teams to employ full-time physical therapists and nutritionists to ensure the health of the players so that they can perform well on stage.

To conclude, video games are far from a waste of time. If implemented correctly, they could lead to significant benefits to individuals and to entire economies. Now, universities have to acknowledge this and prepare students for this lucrative industry.