The Benefit of Shooting Games: Living in the Moment


   The Benefit of Shooting Games: Living in the Moment

You’ve already heard all about the negative effect of violent video games on children, amongst other negative statements about gaming–you know,  that trash they spew out all over the media 24/7–heck, we have all heard far too much about that already, but what’s the positive effect of video games? How have Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, along with other shooting games, improved our lives?

Ghost Recon: Future Soldier

As of late, has been busy compiling a list of the positive benefits of gaming on real life. In creating this list, it is the shooter genre–and in particular Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3–that is easiest to writer about, for two reasons. Firstly, the shooting genre is, as you well know, the most popular genre and Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 very much its top games right now. More importantly, however, the shooting genre holds the most immediately apparent psychological benefit of all game genres: They train our brains to live in the moment.

The Shooter genre, at its core, is about one thing: action. Right from the absolute best shooting games, Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3, down to the much more modest free online shooting games, shooters are about one thing: kicking ass; they force you to get out of your head, making you stop thinking so much, making you stop caring or worrying, just going out there and blowing the world to hell. Why is this such a huge psychological benefit? Because in life we are all so slow! (note that this is also the main reason we play shooters in the first place, in order to escape our thoughts and engage in action and carnage without restraint). 

Maybe “Slow” is not quite fair. However, the vast majority of us need to learn to stop procrastinating, improve our decision making skills and start living and acting in the moment. We need to stop  ooh-ing and ahh-ing over every little superfluous detail. Imagine how much better life would be if we did everything we thought about doing. Well, that is where shooting games come into play. Shooting games force our minds, brains and thoughts to just shut the hell up for a few minutes… hours… day; however long we play them for. They force us to go with the flow, to act on impulse and to live in the moment.


Gotham City Imposters Gameplay Screens


Now, of course, when we’re playing a game we are living only in a virtual world and so there is not much direct benefit there, but thankfully the psychological effect of gaming continues long after we stop playing. Having spent so many hours training our brains to work on impulse and reaction by playing the multiplayers of Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3 and other First Person Shooter games, we naturally develop those skills in life itself. That’s not to say we’re going to go out with a rocket launcher and blow everyone to hell–which is exactly the sensationalist claim that many headline-seeking psychologists rant on about incessantly. No, we’re not about to kill anyone, but because we have learnt to act on impulse and to trust our instincts through the trigger-happy gameplay of most First Person Shooter games, we are far more likely to act in the moment in real life than we would have been had we not been playing FPSs.

This is the number one positive benefit of playing FPS games, the number one way in which Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3 and other shooter games have improved our lives: by teaching us to silence our thoughts, to go with the flow, live in the moment and above anything else, to simply act rather than thinking, and in a world of procrastination that’s one heck of a positive influence.

So, the next time anyone asks you why you’re wasting so many hours playing a game, tell them you’re teaching your mind to act in the moment. After all, acting in the moment is one of the most important skills of professional athletes, law enforcement officers, pilots and drivers and a whole host of other jobs. Heck, you could almost say your bettering yourself and setting yourself up for success in the future through the natural positive psychological benefits of shooting games. That ought to get them thinking.


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Paul Harrison

Paul M Harrison is an entertainment journalist, novelist, and blogger, and a specialist in the theory of storytelling. Paul Harrison can be contacted via his personal website or on Twitter or Facebook.

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