The stereotype of what constitutes today’s average gamer is certainly less than flattering, as gamers are usually portrayed by the film and television industries in two different manners; ridiculously obsessive compulsive anti-social shut-ins or aggressive “bro gamers” who love to sling racial slurs and jokes about your mom over their headset while they teabag you in some military-esque shooter. It certainly doesn’t depict gamers in a positive light, but despite these inaccurate portrayals, most people who devote their free time to gaming are far more creative and innovative than their representations within the media and popular culture.

For anyone who follows the gaming news and media, they should be well acquainted with the mainstream media’s borderline obsession with placing the blame of violent acts squarely on the shoulders of video games. But several scientific studies have actually disproved the notion that there is a direct correlation between video games and displays of violence. Studies have actually found the opposite; a Fordham University study found that certain games (such as World of Warcraft) could help improve students’ planning and problem solving skills tremendously.  A similar study by the University of Iowa surveyed surgeons and found that those who played video games as a hobby were on average 27% faster at advanced surgical procedures and 37% less prone to errors. Other studies have found that gaming can help increase brain function and reflexes in individuals of all ages. So despite the common misconceptions about gamers, science generally indicates that video games help gamers develop their reflexes, problem solving abilities, and critical thinking skills.

But video games offer far more than easily quantifiable benefits. Anyone who has had to suffer through job interviews has likely been asked the incredibly frustrating question about whether or not they can “think outside the box.” Usually, the phrase is generally meaningless, but anyone who plays video games regularly has likely displayed this ability. While certain games that are more linear, obviously require you to play the game in the manner in which the developer intended it to be played, there are plenty of games that leave decision up to you.  There is obviously a vast selection of games to draw from in this regard, but I feel like two of my favorite games, Demon’s Souls and its spiritual successor, Dark Souls, demonstrate the point incredibly well.

The games are perhaps most well known for being punishingly brutal and difficult but it gives tremendous freedom to the player as to how they want to play and how they need to progress and it is this very type of freedom that breeds creativity in a player. If a strategy isn’t working, they’ll have to change it and adapt to something else, and if they don’t, they can’t progress.  In Dark Souls, players can’t simply do what they can normally do in other games (mainly, run in and hack and slash the enemy as they please) and if they attempt to, it will result in a quick death. Plenty of people probably find this approach frustrating, which is why Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls don’t sell as well and have strong cult followings.  But without knowing it, games like these, along with many others, implicitly help us develop skills that employers love to say they see in potential employees, as they help build creativity and innovation, particularly in regards to problem solving.

Decision making is also a crucial skill in most businesses and the past several years have seen the rise of games that center themselves on that concept. Games like The Walking Dead, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and the Mass Effect series are filled with difficult choices that must sometimes be made in a split second and could drastically alter your story and the manner in which you play. To be fair, the choices you make in some of these games do not have long standing impact (looking at you, Mass Effect series!), but they nonetheless force gamers to have to either make quick and difficult decisions, or to weigh each option carefully in order to determine what could be the most beneficially outcome. More importantly, they can easily teach the values of morality and ethics in regards to making choices, with a school in Norway using a game like The Walking Dead to demonstrate the significance of such issues. So while many gamers will simply play a game that requires them to make choices as either strictly bad or good (and there obviously isn’t anything wrong with that) because they find that way more fun, there are plenty of gamers who will see the importance of how ethics, morals, and cause and effect can impact decision making.

Coupled with all of these potential skills, gamers tend to be a particularly creative bunch. That isn’t to say ALL gamers are creative, but you don’t have to look hard on sites like Etsy, Tumblr, Reddit, or DeviantART to see the wonderful creations of artwork, posters, mashups/crossovers, music covers, and handmade crafts that are the result of the most creative and innovative individuals who are passionate about their hobby. And let’s not forget about the truly creative individuals who work within in the gaming industry, like the producers, designers, programmers, writers, and artists who constantly push the boundaries and bring to life breathtaking landscapes and sceneries that in turn will only push the next generation of gamers to be even more creative and innovative.

While being a gamer obviously does not entitle you to automatic employment or make you an immediate hire without the necessary skill set for your respective industry, games can be a tremendous outlet for individuals to uncover their own creativity, which can lead to the development of strongly desirable traits down the road. This can range anywhere from discovering a passion for writing, design, music, or drawing. I myself developed a large interest in ancient Chinese history by playing, of all games, the Dynasty Warrior games as a kid, even though they were incredibly inaccurate and cheesy, and this interest in history led me to major in the subject while in college. Regardless, video games and the individuals who enjoy them aren’t just stereotypical nerds or raging bro gamers; they are made up of creative and passionate individuals that develop and learn a significant amount from video games themselves and in turn can easily use these skills in real life applications.


We would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Let’s fight the stereotype!



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