How Gaming Can Make You a Better Designer

In the midst of E3, I wanted to shed some light on one of my favorite hobbies.

Outside of work, I spend a lot of time playing video games. But the more I play, the more I wonder…is it actually good for me as a web designer? Or is my time better spent doing something else? I wanted to know if it was a valuable hobby to dump so much of my free time into. The research I found is pretty persuasive:

We’re better multi-taskers
For far too long they’ve been criticized as mindless, however video games can actually boost brain performance according to this University of Rochester professor. People who play video games have improved vision, attention, and certain levels of cognition.

In tests, she found that skilled gamers will use the frontal cortex of their brain, which specializes in planning, attention and multitasking. On the other hand, non-gamers were using an area called the parietal cortex, which deals with spatial functions. Non-gamers, in her muli-tasking tests, had to think a lot more when using that part of the brain when compared with people who game frequently.

No wonder I can crank out some headers while entering in timecards!

We’re more creative at an early age 
In this study, 500 12 year old kids were asked to draw a unique picture and tell a story about it. Regardless of gender, the kids who were playing video games frequently were the ones that had the better stories to tell. By showing such creativity at an early age, skilled designers who game have probably been thinking the way they do for a long time now. All I can say about this is…I killed a lot of trees from all the stuff I doodled when I was younger.

If you play an MMO, you’re probably better at your job than non-gamers
Huffington Post reported this from Newcastle University Business School and the University of Crete. If you play an MMO, learning how to be on time for your guild raid or how to work together to kill a boss teaches people how to work in teams in the real world. And, if you’re a main tank for your guild like I am, it should be no surprise how many of those leadership skills leak into the real world as well.

Stay Young
Many designers are aware of the fact that you need to be on trend and up to date with what’s going on in the web. Video games can help that, too! No, it doesn’t have anything to do with having the latest system or the best video card. Turns out just two hours a week can slow mental decay associated with the aging process. Whether it’s World of Warcraft, a mobile game, or CoD, games are cognitively complex and require a lot of mental energy to play them. Stay young, designers!

IT’S ART, DAMN IT
No research for this, just opinion. But for me, when I need inspiration I can get a lot from a video game. Look, I get the debate. But for me personally, when a game hits all of the right notes – gameplay, graphics, story and soundtrack, it’s meaningful and it’s art. As soon as I finished Journey, I felt inspired and emotional. I’ve had paintings and stories give me the same sort of feel. 

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