Video games do more than pass time, they teach valuable lessons
March 02, 2006God bless the parents who let their children play massive amounts of games, and thank the lord for parents that let their children read books. These are the children who turn into the right kind of kids, and the right kind of college students, in my eyes.I was an avid reader as a young child, so when the time came for me to decide if I was going to be good at math or English, I turned to the written word. Since then, I've had a love affair with English (and a hatred of numbers) that has flourished for many semesters of college. I can honestly say I'm better and smarter for this than I would have been otherwise. I probably would've had a few points fewer on my GPA than I do now. Plus, reading a lot makes someone a bit of an egomaniac about themselves, which is also fun.But video games? Video games are what I think really help bring someone up a few levels on the old smart-o-meter. The problem solving skills honed on games such as Bust-A-Move (where three colors of bubbles had to touch to be broken) or Dr. Mario (where three colors of unidentified prescription drugs had to touch to be broken) taught valuable problem solving lessons to generations of children. If I'm ever in a situation where I have three colors that need to be lined up to touch one another lest I be chopped to pieces, I'll be golden.In seriousness, these games teach valuable problem solving skills. Sitting for a few hours, playing these games all night long was not only the only way to keep myself from crying because I had no friends, it was also teaching me how to tackle difficult, albeit digital, puzzles. The puzzle solving problems segue into so much more. Puzzle solving in video games is essentially being given a situation, being given a goal to reach from that situation, being given a few means to solve the problem and determining a solution. Not only is solving puzzles the basis of various disciplines such as philosophy, science, architecture and medicine, it is also the basis for basic logic.Every time I, as a journalist, am given a situation where I need to determine some kind of truth, I have to admit my adventures in Zelda and Link helped me get to the place I am where I can walk through the correct steps to find the truth. Finding the truth is all about seeing a situation and using logic to find some kind of end - hopefully, the correct end.Video games taught me logic as a child, and with the future of video gaming being so bright, I'm sure the future generations will only be better than we ever could be. I can't even get close to playing games on this new X-Box 360 - the controls are too complex. But if I was helped this much in learning puzzle solving and logic with only two or four buttons, imagine how good the kids playing the eight-button, two control stick X-Box controls have?I'm not the only one who loves playing video games, and I'm for sure not the only one who knows the tremendous benefit of them. The Pine Log's adviser Pat Spence talks about wanting to play video games to keep her mind sharp. They have an original X-Box in the SGA office, and the last time I was there, they were playing Halo. Many other campus offices have a system or two-we have three in The Pine Log right now, and let me tell you, it helps with not only puzzle solving skills, but also with relieving stress.If you aren't a fan of the video games, or hate the demon box that is television all together, there are other mind exercises for you to try.We have the Sudoku puzzles on page two, every issue. My mother plays them to, in her words, "stave off the Alzheimer's." There's always a rousing game of spider solitaire, which you can find on any Windows computer. There’s tons of games on the Internet that are nothing but big puzzles to tone your brain muscle. Search for "flash games" to see a big list of interesting games to keep you sharp.Video games aren’t for idiots. If anything else, idiots should pick up a game to make them a bit smarterAndy Phifer is a journalism senior from Arlington. His favorite game ever is "Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars" for the Super Nintendo.