- 30 Dec 08, 08:55 GMT
The news that gaming is good for you socially and educationally will come as glad tidings for many in the world of gaming, albeit that it's something they have undoubtedly been saying for years.
But now the endorsement is coming from Big Blue. Well actually from David Laux who is the global executive in charge of games and interactive entertainment at IBM. Admittedly it's not a company you would naturally associate with gaming, but they have a business stake in all of this. The company says its aim is to help the industry leverage IBM's products in developing games and cutting overall costs.
While this is not mega new, Mr Laux reiterates the fact that the stereotypical spotty loner gamer is far from reality as is the belief that gaming turns people into dead heads.
Of course you realise pretty quickly how hoary that line is when you consider that the Electronic Software Association reports that 65% of American households play computer or video games and that 63% of parents believe games are a positive part of their children's lives.
Depending on the type of game someone is playing, and the amount of time dedicated to that task, Mr Laux says the gamer will develop certain desirable skills.
"We have found across the board, if you look at different categories of games, they all have the ability to develop unique skills.
"That's from the casual games which improve memorisation and the ability to discern details, to console games and shooter games that develop rapid decision making and to role playing games like the World of Warcraft that are very unique in producing leadership skills."
All these skills are "directly transferable to a real life environment," Mr Laux told me.
To better illustrate his point he talked about his 11-year-old daughter who came up against a problem while playing a game called Zoo Tycoon where the player is "challenged to build the most healthy and vibrant zoo possible."
"Dad she says, "Should I hire a new janitor for my zoo?" Sure I said, go ahead," explained Mr Laux.
"And then she said she couldn't afford it out of her current income but really wanted to invest into capital improvement. She said if she didn't then people wouldn't come to her zoo because it will get old.
"And I said well why not hire the janitor and fire him when you are done.
"Well I could do that but if I do that then employee morale will go down and productivity will go down and it may cost more in the long run she said."
Mr Laux said his daughter was still in grade school while grappling with these real life issues.
"I said holy cow, these are concepts I was having a tough time grasping until I got out into the real world. These kids are learning hard skills like business skills but also soft skills like how to interact with people, to communicate effectively, to articulate quickly and make rapid decisions."
For the players of the World of Warcraft, Mr Laux is especially complimentary.
"The game produces tremendous leadership skills among players. It teaches you how to evaluate risk, build teams for specific tasks and it also teaches individuals not to over react if they are not selected for a specific task."
The reason Mr Laux says is because these players "understand their skill set might not be right for the overall success of the whole team. This is about putting the group first and achieving a common goal."
All of which is tremendously good news to WoW devotees who are getting it in the neck according to a report this week in the New York Times.
It said that players are being told not to mention their love of the game if they are in the market for a new job.
The paper reports that there is a belief that because players log as many as 30 hours a week on the game, they can't really commit 100% to a job because "their focus is elsewhere."
With its 11.5 million users, that surely must strike them as stone age thinking right there.
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