Are Computer Games Good For You?

The Sony Playstation 2 and Microsoft's X-Box sold like hot cakes worldwide this Christmas as the popularity of computer games continues to grow. According to recent research, three out of four students play computer games for at least two hours a week in the US. But what are the psychological effects of the games on the player? Do violent games make kids more violent? And does sitting around wiggling your joystick have any educational value? Deji Akala ways up the facts.

Computer games are currently the main revenue-earner in the IT sector, generating $12 billion in 2002. Video games, as they were then known, emerged onto the market in the 1970s with the simple PacMan and an even simpler tennis game. But it wasn't until the 1980s that these games became widely popular. Computer games gave kids, big and small, what television could never do at the time: they were interactive.

Computer games these days come in a number of genres and formats. Here are the main types:

Action games
This is one of the most popular genre of games involving shooting, bombing, and bloodshed. The graphics are usually excellent but often filled with strange-looking creatures, dragons and mutants. First Person Shooter (FPS) games such as Soldier of Fortune II can be discussed here. The action takes place in different cities, like Prague and Hong Kong, and in different weather conditions. There are over 30 ways of maiming or killing your opponents and direct hits are recorded with a high degree of precision.