Five Ways Video Games Teach Self-Awareness

Many popular video games today are loaded with opportunities to practice and develop the skill of Self-Awareness. Self-Awareness games frequently require that players recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, consider the assets they have in the game, and think about the skills needed to be able to beat a particular level. These reflective (sometimes called meta-cognitive skills) and self-recognition skills are all core components of Self-Awareness.

Multiplayer video games can be great examples of how popular Self-Awareness Games may improve this vital thinking skill. These games are more likely to require a capacity to recognize the needs and skills of others. Understanding one’s environment and learning the social conventions of a multiplayer game can help players learn how to be part of a community, an important element of Self-Awareness. Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG’s) and many online multiplayer console games require this skill. But that’s just the start.

Five ways that video games practice Self-Awareness skills:

  • Encouraging others. This can be true for both multiplayer and one-player games. A more expert player can be very helpful to a novice learning the game. Advice can be doled out via voice chat during a gaming session, or given out online via a gaming forum. However, in order to engage with others successfully — either as teacher or student — it is important to be thoughtful. If one does not pay attention to how they come across, they may sully the relationship by appearing to be condescending or intrusive.
  • Teaching the parents. Video games can provide a unique opportunity for children to demonstrate an area in which they know more than their parents. However, sensitivity and understanding of their parents’ knowledge and facility with video games is important if they want to be good teachers. Gaming can provide the opportunity to turn the tables and allow your child to engage with you in a whole new way.
  • Predicting and estimating skills. Being able to match one’s skills to the challenges at hand is also a good example of Self-Awareness in action. Games such as Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception require that one be able to estimate one’s strengths or what might happen as the game progresses. Many times the game’s protagonist, Nathan Drake, is outnumbered and outgunned. To deal with the overwhelming amount of enemies, the player has to use stealth and the environment to his advantage. This requires the player to estimate enemy reactions, scout out attack postilions, and choose carefully when to strike. If the player simply faces too many enemies, it may be best to avoid a confrontation all together and sneak by unnoticed. This is akin to children understanding the need to play sports at an appropriate level so that they neither tower over their teammates nor have no chance at all to keep up with the team.
  • Learning from mistakes. Video games are most fun when the level of challenge matches or slightly exceeds the level of the player’s mastery of a game. If the game is too easy, it quickly becomes boring. If the game is exceedingly hard, it can become a source of frustration. RPG games such as Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, Final Fantasy XIII and Cargo Bridge support the old proverb of learning from your mistakes. Many of the best video games are designed for players to learn from the mistakes they make. Continuing to make the same missteps can leave you stuck, but by being reflective and considering what went wrong during a battle, the player exhibits good use of meta-cognitive skills.

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