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The Architect’s Assistant: 8 Reasons Why You Should Play Video Games


Ah, the long Easter weekend is over. Was it a holiday? I ask that as you do know architects don’t take a break, right? Yes, I know, I know… I may have mentioned that.

However, we have exciting news. We think we’ve found the answer to how to get the Boss to finally stop working and chill out.

Secret No. 5 from the Architect’s Assistant

If you want a baby to be quiet you give it a dummy. If you want an architect to finally leave his desk, tempt him with Formula 1 2013 on the PS3.

Yes, remember these wives and girlfriends, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of architects worldwide: the Architect has got to be challenged, even when supposedly ‘resting’.

Not that he’s alone in appreciating the value of time spent in front of an Xbox or PS3. Budding astronauts have long been trained by NASA to improve their cognitive skills by spending hours on video games.

NASA would definitely approve of this scene in Call of Duty Ghosts as video games play an integral part in the training of astronauts.

And here’s a fact all you gamers may like to post on your bedroom door for next time your mother/wife/girlfriend (delete as applicable) loudly complains about you spending more time with your games console than her: the American Psychological Association (APA) released a research paper documenting the positive impact of gaming in four areas – cognitive, emotional, motivational and social – that are key to maintaining a healthy body and mind.

Now, I hope you’re still reading this as I’m doing a great public service here by giving you some solid excuses as to why you’d rather ‘shoot’ an imaginary character on a screen than shoot the breeze with your real-life friends and family.

Here, in no particular order, are eight reasons why gaming is about much more than simply kicking back and having fun:

1. An understanding of science

Thanks to the recent influx of games incorporating Ragdoll physics, old and young alike have a greater understanding of complex subjects which have previously perplexed generations of students.

Ragdoll Blaster Deluxe 3 is one of the most popular examples of mobile gaming that incorporates ragdoll physics.

Imagine how much more fascinated we’d all have been in the science lab at school if we could study the precise movements of the star of Ragdoll Blaster Deluxe, or catapult a colourful bird (a la Angry Birds) through the air.

Heck, there’s even an educational website on the science of Angry Birds. Thankfully, even the world’s worst architect wouldn’t need to consult a website to recognise the unstable platforms housing those poor, defenceless pigs as being a health and safety hazard.

2. Hand-Eye Co-ordination

An especially useful asset to anyone whose work involves the hands is the ability of gaming to improve hand-eye coordination.

You may think you’re simply shooting the enemy in, for instance, Call of Duty, but what you’re actually doing is perfecting a crucial skill, one you can take over into your professional life.

First-person shooter games such as those in the Call of Duty franchise help gamers perfect their hand-eye coordination.

Such is the positive effect on hand-eye coordination from video games that scientific research shows that a surgeon who is a gamer has a steadier hand than one who enjoys less technologically advanced past times.

So, folks, if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate position of lying on a cold, hard table in an operating room, be sure to ask the surgeon (hint: he’s the one behind the mask and holding a sharp knife in his hand) if he’s playing the latest Call of Duty?

If he replies, “Call of what, sorry?” we advise you to run… Run for your life!

3. Problem-solving

Having trouble working out the exact dimensions for that extra room the client requested for their dream home? Not sure how to accommodate the changes advised by your University professor for that design you were originally convinced will wow the jury at architecture school?

Don’t panic. Instead, simply reach for your console or visit the App Store on your phone or iPad, as the reality is that every time you play a game you’re solving a problem. And the problem-solving skills you constantly develop and maintain for your favourite games can be transferred to your professional life.

Messages such as this, which appears on Diablo 3, are a frequent but unwelcome sight for all video gamers.

Indeed, because of the pressure of the clock or the ‘threat’ of seeing your virtual character lose a life, in contrast to ‘real’ life the gamer often has to be quick thinking and able to adapt with speed to even the most challenging circumstances.

Elsewhere, games which afford the player all the time they need encourages the gamer to use logic to find a solution and move forward in the game.

4. Networking opportunities

Consider how many social contacts you make through gaming, whether on a PC, smartphone, or consoles such as the PS3, PS4, Xbox and Wii.

In the same way that bosses traditionally build team spirit with company away days from the office, chatting and competing with similarly minded people the world over can and often does hold the promise of professional success and even advancement.

Because you are in a relaxed environment with a person who is enjoying the same game as you, conversation (if available) comes more easily to both sides than it would in, say, a formal office environment.

Be sure to take an extra second to ponder who is the mystery person behind the intimidating clothes as, you never know, that could be an important client or even your future boss!

So remember, next time you’re about to ‘shoot’ your online opponent on Call of Duty or another such game, take a moment to think whether he could be your next boss or client [laughter].

After all, for the sake of a few points on a global leaderboard, you really don’t want to destroy the virtual body of the guy who could be in control of your working life… Do you?!

5. Compete and chat

Forget the media-led consensus that gamers are anti-social “nerds” or “geeks” who stay in their bedrooms and rarely communicate with anyone.

It simply isn’t true.

Research shows that more than 70% of gamers compete against friends, family or online opponents.

Again, though, this information comes with a gentle ‘warning’: Try to avoid beating your boss at, for instance, online Scrabble.

Do you have a rack of letters which would make a game-winning word like ‘blazing’ on a triple word score?

What are you thinking???? DON’T DO IT!

Much wiser to play ‘lag’ (“3 points for me? Thank you, Sir”).

However, if your competitive nature does get the better of you, try to make sure you beat the boss immediately after payday!

6. Controlling your emotions

Don’t hit your desk or rage at your employees or friends, family and colleagues because you’re having problems at university or work.

Instead, walk away from that desk, boot up the games console, and pour all your frustrations and energy into beating a top score or finishing a level on a game which has stumped you for longer than you care to admit.

While video games such as Formula 1 are known to help with stress, you may not feel so calm when you lose control of your car and plummet down the leaderboard from first to last.

Don’t ever underestimate how important having fun is to your overall well-being.

Yes, gaming is a great stress reliever.

Or at least it is until the moment you crash on the very last lap and allow that annoyingly confident opponent in Australia to enjoy his 50th victory over you this year!

7. Get those creative juices flowing

Creativity is everything in many professions, especially architecture. While many parents and teachers across the globe bemoan the fact children spend so much time playing computer games, research by APA discovered the following: “Among a sample of almost 500 12-year-old students, video game playing was positively associated with creativity.”

Meanwhile, gaming also encourages two aspects that are crucial to professional success: determination and optimism even in the face of adversity.

The architecture features a great deal in many video games, especially the Assassin’s Creed franchise which celebrates the stunning architecture of Renaissance Italy.

Think for a moment about the sheer number of hours you’ve spent on a game trying desperately to get to the top of a leaderboard or open up a new wardrobe for your favourite character. Now, imagine if you converted this level of determination to your working day or studies. The results would be eye-opening.

It’s just a shame those thousands of coins we all earn via mobile gaming can’t be converted to real cash. Then we would all be games addicts.

8. Staying ahead of the (visualisation) game…

I see from the visualizers on our team just how much they relish loading up the latest video game. To them, it’s clearly more than just enjoying the latest fantasy challenges dreamt up in the video games studio of Japan or America.

To them, it’s as much about seeing the progress made in the world of CG animation since the previous release of the game.

While the rest of us primarily focus on the track, anyone who works as a professional visualizer will be equally focused on the improvement in the graphics since games such as Need for Speed were last released.

After all, the graphics employed in chart-topping games aren’t so far removed from those seen on the office monitors as architects work on 3D visualizations for the latest project.

Secret No. 6 from the Architect’s Assistant

Of course, I have omitted one crucial fact. Would you like to know how long the Boss was circling the track on Formula 1 this Easter weekend? What would you guess? One hour? Two hours?

Well, let me put it this way: I’ve probably spent much longer writing this final secret than he did burning rubber!

I wonder if I could get away with claiming that the victorious F1 car in front was being driven by the Architect’s Assistant?

You’d think I would have learnt the lesson I’m forever telling you by now: there’s little rest for Architects.

Nevertheless, in the tradition of the annual Oscars ceremony in Hollywood, we would like to extend our warmest thanks to everyone who helped produce F1 2013.

You saved our team’s *Easter holiday.

(*Yes, for at least 20 minutes!)

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Comments (3)

Right on point. I always take out my frustrations, and even when stressed out on my Xbox One. I have one more reason to enjoy video gaming.

@Shehu, even though I am quite busy, I still ensure gaming at least once in a week.. it even boosts my creative thinking to a large extent..

The Architect's Assistant

Hi Mansur. Thanks so much for writing.

It’s great to hear that you too enjoy taking out any stress on your Xbox. Although I’ve enjoyed playing video games for far too many years to remember, I’ve wisely concluded it would generate more rather than less stress if I were to ever take on the architects around here on the racing track. They’re annoyingly good!

Thanks again, Mansur. Keep enjoying your Xbox.

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