Despite what many people think, there are actually a wide range of developmental benefits one can experience from playing video games. Last time, a few social benefits were mentioned, and while there are many more, it’s good to include a variety. This time, discussion will be about the ways that video games can help players to strengthen and explore different problem solving methods.

Whether you’re playing a puzzle game or a full action RPG, there are probably a few things you can learn. Problems are a near essential part of any game’s plot, and they can range from something as simple as some colored blocks needing to be rotated to an army of aliens coming to destroy a planet. Whatever the problem is, as the player, it will be your job to solve it! There are a few common problem solving methods that games tend to evoke in players.

Root-cause Analysis: As the name suggests, this strategy will have you identifying what exactly is causing the problem. While this isn’t necessarily a solution in itself, it is an important step in finding the most appropriate course of action. For example, if the cities in your game aren’t receiving cargo on their trade routes, violent bandits may be the culprit. If you know that the bandits are causing the problem, you can then decide how to deal with the issue. This form of analysis is not perfect as you can always ask further questions – “What is causing the bandits to attack?” and so on – but it is a good way to exercise deeper thought.

Means-end Analysis: Solving problems will many times require you to reach a certain goal, and means-end analysis will help you to do just that. This process involves realizing your current state as well as the steps you must take to reach your eventual goal. Perhaps you want your character to reach a higher level in a game. You are a low level now, but want to level higher. Gaining experience points will help you along the path to reach your goal.

Collaboration: Working with others seems to be a problem solving strategy that is often overlooked in the world of video games, however, it is one that is very important both socially and cognitively. Collaborating will give you the experience of communicating with other players as you work together to solve an issue. In MMO games, maybe you’ll be put on a team with a distinct role. This gives practical experience with delegating tasks and taking on responsibility. Each player will have their own strengths and weaknesses!

Trial and Error: This guess and check method is often a last resort, but even still, it can come in handy depending on the situation.

The great news about these problem solving strategies is that, while players use them during gaming sessions, they’re also more likely to employ these methods in real life. Gaining experience with solving gaming problems can make players more adept and willing to accept the challenges they may face in their daily lives.

Even though playing video games will seem like a totally irrelevant waste of time, please be assured that that isn’t necessarily the case! Playing games can actually promote different developmental benefits, including knowledge of different problem solving strategies. This may seem like nothing more than fantasy at first, but these strategies can really come in handy with addressing real-world problems.

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