Life Skills Developed by Those Who Have Played in Video Game Tournaments

Article excerpt

Introduction and Purpose of the Study

The number of people playing electronic video games in the United States of America is quite large. It has been estimated that, in 2011, video games were played in 71% of households in the country (entertainment software association, 2011). However, not all people who play video games also play in organized video game tournaments. The purpose of this study was to determine if there are significant differences in life skills, such as personal, educational, social, and work-related skills, developed by those who have and those who have not played in video game tournaments.

At the outset it must be pointed out that this study does not deal with professional video game players or those who are prone to playing games for long hours every day, but with students in a research university who, like many university students, play video games. A small proportion of these students who participated in the study have also played in video game tournaments.

It is reasonable to expect that due to the competitive nature of the tournaments, those who participate in video game tournaments have developed and honed their game playing skills to a greater degree than their peers who do not participate in video game tournaments. The purpose of this study is to determine if this additional effort on the part of tournament players helps or hinders their development of personal, educational, social, and work-related skills, when compared to their university peers who do not play in tournaments.


A survey of video game players was conducted in a large research university. Various findings based on analysis of the collected data are being reported in separate papers. Two papers (Thirunarayanan, Vilchez, Abreu, Ledesma, & Lopez, 2010; Thirunarayanan & Vilchez, 2012) have already been published and other manuscripts that are based on different aspects of the study are currently under preparation. In order to keep the amount of overlap between the different papers to a minimum, the scope of the review of the research literature in this paper is intentionally being kept to an adequate level. While the review of the research literature is admittedly and purposefully not exhaustive, it is nevertheless sufficient and illustrative of the body of the work in the field and serves to delineate the context for this study.

Some of the persuasive proponents for the use of video games for educational purposes include Prensky (2001; 2003), Gee (2007), Shaffer, Squire, Halverson, and Gee (2004) and Squire (2003). A selective review of the research literature does show that playing video games has positive effects on game players. A study by Jansz and Martens (2005) found that one of the reasons for playing online video games is the social contact with other players. Griffiths et al. (2011), who reviewed studies of gamers who played "massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs)," noted that social interaction is an essential ingredient among those who play such games. Kong and Theodore (2011) studied gamers who played "fighting games" and concluded, "For community members who meet offline regularly, online communication serves as a useful tool for organizing and sharing information, and strengthens social connections." This indicates that game players are not always individuals who are isolated from each other without any contact with other gamers. They do form friendships with other gamers and develop a sense of community.

The use of video games helps students be more engaged (Annetta, Minogue, Holmes, & Cheng, 2009). An experimental study conducted by Din and Calao (2001) showed that kindergartners in the experimental group performed significantly better on the posttest in the areas of spelling and decoding. Positive aspects of playing video games reported by others include improved classroom discipline (Lee, Luchini, Michael, Norris, & Soloway, 2004), social interaction (Lee, et al. …