Video games are much too difficult for most new gamers to devote their time to learn. As least, that was the thought communicated by Electronic Arts chief creative officer Richard Hilleman at the recent D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas. Hilleman expressed concern over the two hours that the average player will spend learning to play a new game and suggested that game developers are asking too much of players to devote this much time to learning how to play a game at the front end.
Gamers have had much to say in the weeks since Hilleman’s statements about the future of video games, with many gamers worried that game developers will begin to dumb down their games for new players.
While it’s true that some of the most popular games on the market, such as Destiny and Call of Duty, may take a significant amount of time to learn at the beginning, the time spent learning the mechanics of the game isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And it isn’t as if there are a lot of fans complaining about the learning curve of most games. In fact, the learning process, especially when it’s designed to be a fundamental element of the fun gamers experience at the front end of a game, can actually be very beneficial to a gamer’s cognitive, sensorimotor, and perceptual skills.
A study published in November 2014 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that certain types of action video games such as Call of Duty actually produce a wide range of benefits in players. These types of games give players the opportunity to exercise and develop their problem-solving skills, which can help them when they apply those skills to problems they face in the real world.
The study found that playing first-person shooter games helps players to develop their ability to make accurate predictions by giving them the opportunity to build what researches call “perceptual templates” of the world. These kinds of games have also been shown to improve reflexes and reaction times in players.
While video games may take a significant amount of time to learn, the case for dumbing games down is slim when games have so much to offer in helping people to develop important real-world skills. Instead of dumbing games down, game developers need to make sure their front-end game tutorials are a fun and a vital part of the game experience itself.