That’s my view after having just completed Portal 2 on the Xbox – one of the most creative and mind-bending games I’ve ever played.
Far from video games damaging our ability to interact with other human beings, games like this may actually be improving our communication skills.
Problem-solving games shouldn’t be confused with first-person-shooters where the objective is to destroy anything that moves. I’ve heard it said that war-based gaming encourages people to view life as a battle, and hence a painful struggle. By contrast, people playing problem-solving games tend to view life as an enjoyable challenge.
The game I was playing challenged me to use “wits over weaponry”. My view is that problem-solving games (electronic or otherwise) encourage us to use our wit, and can help us adopt a problem-solving approach to communication in our personal and working lives.
Here are three ways you could benefit:
1. Routinely tackling gaming challenges creates a habit of seeking creative solutions. In a communications context, it may mean you are more likely to seek a creative solution rather than confrontation, for example. At the very least you may be more inclined to choose from a range of communication responses rather than just simply reacting.
2. Problem-solving games encourage a relaxed frame of mind. You have to get into a relaxed frame of mind in the first place to solve the problem. This state is the best one to be in when seeking communication solutions. Perhaps you will be more likely to actively listen to people, and then reflect, before trying to convey your own messages.
3. This is effectively a mental workout which may lead to improved mental skills. I’m thinking here of Dr Kawishima and his ‘Brain Training’. Improved mental acuity might well increase your chances of success in communication as you can now perform the mental acrobatics required to find communication solutions which may otherwise escape the lazy-brained.