Benefits of gaming

Let’s get this clear. It is not all gaming and it is not binge gaming. There has to be discernment and balance with gaming as there ought to be with other things in life. One of the unexpected benefits of gaming I have discovered in my research into gaming is that they are actually helpful to people undergoing treatments for cancer and for pain management therapy. Cancer treatment of America looks at the benefits of gaming for cancer patients. It has been particularly good for children because it reduces the amount of pain killers they have to be on. NCBI has published research on the use of video games for pain management. Psychology Today looks at the cognitive benefits of game playing which is what has mostly been picked up in the media. Dr. Mark Griffiths who is a professor at the Nottingham Trent University in the UK looks at the educational benefits of video games in his research. C. Shawn Green and Aaron R. Seitz have a very thorough look at the impact of gaming and which games are helpful and how they are helpful neurologically . It also makes clear that games have to be tailored to the individual in order for them to be having a positive impact on cognition, attention and neurological development:

“The effect of a game depends on how it is interacted
with—A key difference from the action of a drug is that the
impact of a video game depends on how that individual interacts
with the game, with individual differences in motivation,
personality, and nascent cognitive abilities leading to
completely different game experiences. At the extreme, it is
obvious that having a child with ADHD press random buttons
on the game controller will provide an ineffective learning
experience. Thus, the results of a given video game
intervention can vary widely across individuals. While we
have discussed data from many demographic groups (from
children to seniors; from those with mental health impairments
to athletes and surgeons), showing that video games
can positively influence many demographics, there are
numerous reasons why a game that helps one individual may
or may not have the same effects on another.”

Impact of gaming

Daphne Bavelier is a professor at the University of Geneva in the area of cognitive neuroscience. Her research is identifying the impact of gaming on brain plasticity and brain function in people who are gamers. She is looking at the effects gaming has on brain function and that is important. There also needs to be research by gamers who understand gaming from the inside to know what gaming is doing to cognitive abilities and function. Gaming will improve your vision, your capacity to think fast, your capacity to absorb fine detail. Anyone who games at the high end is processing text, audio, visuals and decision making at lightning speed. The comments under the video add another layer of understanding because they are largely comments by gamers. Her comment of gaming 15 hours a week is too conservative. People can play games for 10 to 15 hours a day. We need to understand all of these things. We need to see how the patterns are formed and how the thinking is developed and what exactly is happening when people game.

test goldfish to climb a tree Gamers are in their 30s. Children grow up in homes with parents who are gamers now. It is a part of our society. Daphne Bavelier observes that the  benefits of gaming can be used in all sorts of ways to improve cognitive and visual function in non gaming people and there is information  to follow up on.  Gaming is such a big part of life now there will be a problem with students who are tested using only static text based tests. This is not how many of them operate or process screen information. It’s the testing the goldfish to climb a tree meme so we need to be looking at better ways of finding out how people are learning through games and what exactly they are learning. Professor Bavelier’s work is throwing light onto that.

Puzzle Craft 2

Puzzle Craft 2I love this game. It is very demanding in a good way. You have to think, plan and puzzle. I have four villages now and the fourth one added such a good level of complexity that it really put the game into a whole new arena which created an even better use and development of cognitive skills. It’s rewarding. When you achieve something, you really feel like you have achieved it. I have been confronted more than once with those awful weeds. Every time I nail them there is a great feeling of satisfaction. With the wolves it’s the challenge of getting rid of them without resorting to shooting them. With the rats…mostly I ignore them. It is good to be at the bit where I can collect them with grass. The fourth village has brought me a water puzzle game. At first it seems to be as bizarre as anything . Yes, you have to use your brain to get it going and to understand it. I still don’t really know what it’s about. I just do it and follow my instinct and that seems to be working. It’s a bit addictive catching fish and locating spices. The challenge is the 4 moves restriction on the boat. This is why Puzzle Craft 2 has become my favourite game. It changes and challenges. It gives you enough information and help to keep you going but it forces you to participate and actually play it in a comprehensive way.  Every step of the way you have to think it out. I am running raw materials and resources across 4 villages so I have to work out which mines and farms to work, which resources to have where, which raw materials are better sourced in which village.  If I am buying I have to work out whether it is cheaper to buy the raw materials or the ready made resource. It is a game for a brain which likes to be busy and a game for those who like to manage across a range of expectations, requirements, demands , materials and assets. You can’t just play it as such and bash your way through the game. Some really good challenges arrive unexpectedly and you have to think them out. At one stage I thought I would never get to my fourth village. Even had I wanted to I could not have bought my way in. You can use your real money to short circuit the play if you want to but a lot of the game requires you to look at other things besides the fact that easy cash will solve everything answer. I love that. There are things like time, patience and strategy. I had to work hard to get into the fourth village and had to let time do the work. For the fifth village I already have the requirements but that is not to say it will be a straightforward move when the time comes. The game can surprise you like that. It’s not a game you get done. It’s one you sit and enjoy for a little while. It’s not stressful. It is absorbing.

Puzzle Craft 2

PuzzleCraft2I completed the 50 levels of Puzzle Craft and got into my Imperial Castle. I can still play the game if I want to but I have achieved all there is to achieve. I thought I’d give Puzzle Craft 2 a go. Initially it was a shock because I had gone so far in Puzzle Craft and had enjoyed the freedom of it. I was back to having to build up resources and currency and Puzzle Craft 2 is far more complex. It seemed a bit kiddie at first but it’s not. There is so much you have to manage and keep your eye on. For a busy brain which likes to puzzle this is the game. There are so many elements and strategies . The game puts in challenges and it works across different villages this time. I have completed the second village and have to gather the resources to move on to the third village. I packed everything up without realising that. Not to worry. It’s not easy to work everything out and some of it you stumble across or the game gives you a bit of help. It’s certainly a generous game in terms of offering supplies and bonuses. I hate the notion that you can pay real cash to get yourself out of every single difficult situation. In my opinion it’s a bad lesson to teach and defeats the purpose of gaming. Games make squillions of dollars, it’s true, but cash ought not be the driving force because there is so much teaching and learning which can occur with a game and that to me is the most important thing. If I just buy my way out I have gained nothing.

 

I have got myself going and am currently stuck because there is no way I am going to be able to get 150 iron out of the mine in one hit. The puzzle board has 36 squares and not all of them are filled with iron. That is a tough challenge. I have learned to make tools on the first farm to save the resources on the second farm for the other tools. I am not sure why buildings provide free tools when they are not added to the count. You are strictly limited on the amount of tools you can have in this game unless you pay for special packages with game currency which you can build up quite well. Those tools are added to the stock pile. Sometimes I just play the boards without the tools. I try to focus on the one thing I have to do but it doesn’t quite work out that way because you have other things to keep in mind and that is where strategy and planning come in handy. I hate the long chains but the game thrives on them. I preferred the shorter chains of the first game. You can shorten the chains by hiring workers but that comes slowly when you don’t want to keep paying out more real money. There is plenty of variety in game play and it’s a game which keeps you challenged. It will change as I go up the levels and I look forward to discovering whether I enjoy it as much as I ended up enjoying Puzzle Craft. The graphics are really good and the level of organisation in the game is good. There is a really comprehensive review of it on GameZebo.

Puzzle Craft

Puzzle CraftPuzzle Craft 

Puzzle Craft is a nice little game which I play on the iPad offline but here is an Android version of it too. There really isn’t a need to be online because it’s not reliant on a network of players to enable progression. It’s single player. It’s not a game you can stay on, either. You have to wait until you get money and build up equipment and then you can go farming and mining to build up coins and experience points. At the heart of it is matching sets of similar items so it’s like a match 3 game, but you match more than 3 but it becomes relatively demanding with the treasure chest challenges, exploding gas or wolf attacks. Nothing serious! For a while I didn’t have the coins to employ workers and they certainly help you progress faster through the levels. I am up to level 45 and aiming for 50 where I get the imperial castle. I am not sure what will happen after that or if all I have to do is fill the artefact shelves in the museum. It’s not at all stressful but you do have to think about strategy. At times you run very short of particular resources or tools and have to work out how to manage that. Once you get to level 40 the game becomes more challenging and you have to think more carefully about how you are going to progress.

I have over 400 trimmers, a tool which changes trees to grass. Why? It’s not like hay isn’t easy to come by. I have used a trimmer about 6 times in the game just to get the treasure chest challenges completed. Nothing worse than getting 9 trimmers from the treasure chest when you already have hundreds. Not sure why that is in an otherwise carefully panned and well thought out game. The graphics are good, the progression is well planned and the capacity to engage is there. Trimmers? Who knows what that is all about.

There is a Puzzle Craft 2 which appears to run differently and I look forward to playing that once I have finished this one or have had enough of it.

I am at the stage where I have to make sure I have plenty of tools built up before I can go on t he farm or into the mines. I also have to make sure I am hiring workers as often as possible so I can progress more easily.

This is not a game which tries to get money off you, trick you into paying for progression or needs a financial input so you can play it. There is an option to invest money in it if you want to and that would get you through the levels more quickly. I find I am going through the levels at a rate which is fine. At the moment it seems to be two a day and that is quite a change from the one a week or every four days. It’s the amount of coins you have to invest in tools and workers which makes a difference.

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