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In our efforts to go deeper into the topic about the relationship between the use of commercial video games and the development of Soft Skills (those qualities so desirable for workers as cognitive flexibility, communication or stress management, among many others), we are focussed now on video game genres. Our main hypothesis is there is a relationship between video games genres and specific families of soft skills because the kind of players’ interactions that are usually being carried out in this video games by genre.
It seems to be logical to think on this relationship between soft skills and video games genres when someone is playing Counter Strike he or she would be not developing the same soft skills as when playing Candy Crush. At least there would be a different set of these soft skills to be developed on each playing. Why? Because the carried out actions during one or another game are quite different. For example, it is not the same to accurately aiming and coordinating a bunch of playmates team with a high demand of effectiveness compared to solving several puzzles within a limited amount of time gathering three or more candies of the same color. In this article we try to analyze some of the most common video game actions according to their genre, explaining their differences in detail and, finally, trying to establish a hypothesis of correlation between specific genres of videogames and the skills they train.
We are glad to remind readers that all of this work is part of the research project called xBadges (AEESD TSI-100600-2015-30) for the identification and training of Soft Skills with commercial video games, something that we call internally ‘Reversed Gamification’. We start from the hypothesis that any video game can train certain skills, among them the so-called soft skills. This hypothesis has already been tested previously in studies such as Barr (2017), which highlights that playing commercial video games can have a positive effect on skills such as communication, adaptability and initiative.
To measure the level of training that a videogame provides to a soft skill we use the “Achievements”. Following the argument that when we play a video game we perform a set actions to the rules, guidelines and objectives of such game, hence it is necessary (and natural) to also develop a serie of skills related to such actions and rules. In addition, a Achievement is the tangible record of the successful performance of a set of actions. If we analyze the needed skills for the correct performance of a series of actions ‘packaged’ in a Achievement and also we give some quantitative values depending on the degree of complexity of acquisition we can measure the training of each skill.
Skilling Games graphic. Level of current soft skills and progress of them.
The xBadges research project has evolved into a testing prototype platform called Skilling Games that allows us to make this translation of Achievements to Soft Skills through algorithms whose weight values Achievement/Skill have been previously introduced by team members specialized in psychology, education and video games. In the graph above you can see the training of a player who has been playing Counter Strike: Global Offensive (from now on CS:GO, Valve, 2012) and Team Fortress 2 (Valve, 2008). At the same time this player is enjoying her favorite game she also is training these skills that are so useful for both her work and daily life tasks.
Skilling Games provides valuable information about how a person is training her Soft Skills at the same time is playing her favourite commercial video games, which clearly improves their professional profile. What the platform does is analyze those earned Achievements to determine in a very visual way which and how much those soft skills have being trained.
Relationships between achievements and skills
Thanks to mentioned xBadges project we have developed a methodology that allows us to establish a direct relationship between video game Achievements and Soft Skill training. It is necessary to perform a series of actions that require the use of one or more Soft Skills to get an achievement. For example, to get the achievement “Mercy Rule” (kill the entire opposing team with no casualties in your team) in CS:GO you need to establish a good communication with your teammates to know where the enemies are and how to defend your place working together, we think you will be training teamwork and coordination skills, among many others.
Soft Skills in video games genres
In order to improve our technique to assigning Skills to Achievements we thought that using the division of video games by gender can help us a lot. Why? Because video games are divided into genres and since these groups share a series of gameplay modes and characteristics, these can be translated into actions performed in a very similar way. In this case we would have very similar interactions and, probably also, similar achievements.
So for example, a player who plays a soccer game, is developing skills almost identical to another player who plays an alternative IP (ie. one player using FIFA and the other one playing PES). Perhaps the only notable differences is in the fact that have their own Achievements, but playing an amount of hours will train these skills in a very similar way regardless of which is played.
In principle there are 42 categories of video games according to Mark J. P. Wolf (2001) and we know that even since these categories were written, some more have been added. We decided to simplify the search a bit in order to carry out a preliminary analysis easier to understand. Reducing the list up to 11 categories brings us the opportunity to to that, this is, putting the most popular genres all together (according to Philip Hanna, 2016):
- Action-adventure games.
- In this genre of games the player is the protagonist of the story and she has to solve puzzles to advance the storytelling. The puzzles can often involve manipulating and interacting with in-game objects, characters, etc.
- Fighting games.
- Fighting games recreate combats, in general these combats are seen from a lateral perspective or in third person.
- Shooter games.
- The main objective of Shooter Games is to shoot and kill enemies, usually with firearms, most shooter video games require a higher level of interaction and planning to solve certain situations.
- Platform games.
- The player controls a character who must advance on a stage avoiding physical obstacles, whether jumping, climbing or bending over. In addition to the displacement capabilities, this type of genre indifferently balances from action to adventure .
- Puzzle games.
- They are games that test the player’s intelligence for problem solving, puzzles can be mathematical, spatial or logical.
- Racing games.
- Also known as driving video games, they place the player on a race in which they must reach a goal over their opponents or within a time limit. Usually the player drives a motor vehicle, like a car, although there are other possibilities.
- Role playing games (RPGs).
- These video games are characterized by a deep story and an evolution of the character and the evolution of the story. To achieve this personal and story evolution, the player is usually engaged in an adventure where she has to explore the world to acquire weapons, experience, allies and even special powers.
- Simulation games.
- A genre that tries to represent real-life situations in the most credible way possible, often without a definite end goal, but as a mere recreation of a realistic experience.
- Sports games.
- Sports video games are those that emulate real-world sports. Among them we find golf, tennis, soccer, hockey, olympic games, etc. The mechanics of the games are the same as in the original sport, although sometimes some additions are incorporated.
- Strategy Games (Turn Based + Real Time).
- They are characterized by the need to manipulate a large group of characters, objects or data, the use of intelligence and planning are also needed in order to achieve the main goals. Although most of these games are fundamentally military-themed, there are also very interesting economic, business and social strategy games.
- Survival games.
- Games in which the main character must get enough resources to survive, usually in a hostile or complex environment. They are based on the player’s ability to find combinations of elements from her environment that allow her to build tools or produce resources for their subsistence.
Once all these different genres have been explained, it is time to talk about the skills in our research (soft skills from McGrew, 2004 and The Future of Jobs, Employment Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 2016). We divide Soft Skills in four large families according to several references of taxonomization:
- Cognitive and physical skills.
- Basic skills.
- Cross-functional skills.
- Emotional skills.
In this article our list of detectable Soft Skills with commercial video games is limited to 23 skills (those in the following table), depending on the families to which every of them belong to:
|COGNITIVE & PHYSICAL||BASIC||CROSS- FUNCTIONAL||EMOTIONAL|
|Cognitive Flexibility||Communication||Complex Problem Solving||Stress Management|
|Creativity||Monitoring Self & Others||People/Team Management||Frustration tolerance|
|Logical Reasoning||Time Management||Self discipline|
|Induction||Judgement & Decision Making||Self motivation|
|Speed of reasoning||Coordinating with others||Organizational skills|
|Problem sensitivity||Self confidence|
Soft Skills by genre of video games
As indicated at the beginning of the article, the Adventure Games are games in which the player must advance in the narrative plot interacting with different characters and objects. An example would be Life is Strange (Dontnod Entertainment, 2015) which is an adventure game in which the story is about a photography student who discovers that she has the power to travel through time, going backwards and provoking a ‘butterfly effect’, that is, the protagonist manages to change the past even when doing that has always consequences.
An achievement in this video game is called “Photogenic”, which consists of taking an optional photo in the Chrysalis episode. To achieve it, we will have to approach a group of skaters, talk to Justin (a character) and, when he asks us about skateboarding techniques, to go back in time and when we he asks again (in the second parallel timeline), to choose the option that speaks of the tricks (knowledge that we will have acquired in the first of the two conversations). Then we will see that one of his friends is beaten by a skateboard and then we will be able to take the requested photo.
This is the general mechanic of the game: to choose among several options, then facing the consequences and rewinding if desired result has not been obtained with the appropriate consequences.
In this videogame the challenges are mere milestones in the progress of each episode, so following the logic based on the type of interactions of this adventure game with the user within the system, we find links with some specific Soft Skills:
- Creativity. The ability to contribute unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation and to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Logical Reasoning. The ability to combine pieces of information to set general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events) and/or to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Induction. Ability to discover the underlying characteristic (e.g. rule, concept, principle, process, trend, class membership) that underlies a specific problem or a set of observations, or to apply a previously learned rule to a problem. Reasoning from specific cases or observations to general rules or broad generalizations.
- Communication. Ability to speak in real life situations (ie. lectures, participation in groups) in a manner that transmits ideas, thoughts or feelings to one or more individuals.
- Complex Problem Solving. Developed capacities used to solve novel, ill-defined problems in complex real-world circunstances.
We think that, specifically, Creativity and Complex Problem Solving are soft skills that are closely related to each other in this specific case of Adventure Game Life is Strange. In order to solve the problems that are exposed in the game, new ideas must be constantly being contributed within a context that does not exist in ‘real-reality’, that is, the ability to return to past to change present. As well as the game evolves the problems become less and less defined in their characteristics, which makes them more complex.
Logical Reasoning and Induction are also two very close skills. In the case of how they develop in the context of Life is Strange we could say that there are constantly elements that, once they have been recognized, must be recombined until the player finds the key to each scene, in this way a cyclic learning process is produced thanks to the use of Logical Reasoning and the ability to Induce new situations by the player.
The last skill, Communication, is actually more developed in the field of listening than speaking. Since the characters involved in the story present useful information to advance, this skill is trained when we play Life is Strange, or at least the 50% of what involves the action of communication: Listening (we refer concretely to Active Listening).
These video games place the player on a race in which he must reach a finish before his opponents or within a time limit. Usually the player drives a car although there are more types of vehicles. A typical example would be Need for Speed: Underground 2 (EA, 2004). In this game you have to win races on street circuits to success. You can also drive in free mode through the city of “Bayview”, one more important aspect of the game is the possibility of personalizing the vehicles.
The races in this game are frenetic, fast and sometimes very frustrating. In order to achieve good performance it is necessary that the player’s attention to be continuously focused on the screen, assimilating each stimulus that appears with a very fast processing speed and thus be able to adjust the direction and speed of the vehicle if necessary.
One of the achievements of this game is “The Triple Crown”. To achieve this it is necessary to win three races in a row. To win a race you need to orient yourself (thanks to a set of Spatial Skills) and have good reflexes to avoid your rivals, thus getting ahead at the precise moment (Reasoning Speed).
In this video game the achievements consist of winning races and unlocking cars. To achieve them we think that the following skills have a fundamental role:
- Speed of Reasoning. Speed or fluency in performing reasoning tasks (e.g. quickness in generating as many possible rules, solutions, etc., to a problem) in a limited time.
- Spatial Scanning. Ability to quickly and accurately survey (visually explore) a wide or complicated spatial field or pattern and identify a particular configuration (path) through the visual field. Usually requires visually following the indicated route or path through the visual field.
- Judgement & Decision Making. Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
The Speed of Reasoning is trained in racing games constantly. You have to be quick to know when to change gears, when to accelerate or to measure the curve to know when you have to brake. Those tenths of a second are vital, from the time the green light turns on until you realize it.
We think that Spatial Scanning is one of the cognitive soft skills most developed in racing video games since the main activity that takes place in these games fits perfectly with its definition. In addition, this ability is manifested both by following the race and by orienting yourself within the minimap that appears in the lower left corner. Spatial scanning also include the visual search of the elements that interest to us as a player, such as traffic signals, curves at a distance, the others competitors and obstacles that may be encountered along the way.
The Decision Making is revealed when a player takes a shortcut or decides to overtake on the right as the next curve will be to right as well, for example. Although you do not have to read such accurate example to understand that while you are driving, every action and decision can be decisive in the final result, so decisions are constantly being made.
Sports games are those that simulate real-world sports in a virtual environment. There are video games on soccer, basketball, olympics, horse riding, tennis, etc. In this genre you have to control a team (in team sports) or an athlete (in individual sports) to get the victory against the opponent.
An example would be the Virtua Tennis 2009 (Sega, 2009) which is a game in which you control a tennis player and you have to play matches in championships around the world in addition to doing secondary missions with challenges to improve your aim.
To play these games you have to be able to perform movements with your avatar quickly and accurately such hitting the ball to the far left when you see that your opponent is running to his left. The ability to both organize and plan each movement, execute it and rethink the strategy is also present. It is also a requirement to know a priori the different rules of each simulated real sports within the video game.
An achievement in Virtua Tennis is “Overcome the Speed Limit”. To achieve this, it is necessary to carry out at least one service at more than 200 km/h. For this it is necessary to be able to stop the fluctuating service bar in the “MAX” part (by pressing a button at the right moment).
The skills involved the most in sports video games are:
- Speed of Reasoning.
- Frustration tolerance. Ability to tolerate the frustration failing over and over, trying to achieve an objective.
- Stress Management. Being able to keep the performance up while you are being stressed by certain stimuli.
Speed of Reasoning is trained in video games like same as the example since it is necessary to quickly identify where the ball is going to come back. While playing this game you are constantly calculating the trajectory of the ball, foreseeing where your opponent is going to move to hit the ball in the opposite direction. This is done very quickly because tennis is a game in which reflexes are very important. Generally, most sports require sustained attention on stimuli such as the ball, the position of the players, the trajectories, etc. Here Speed of Reasoning plays a very important role in being quick both to perceive the inputs and to plan the outputs, sometimes in a matter of milliseconds.
Frustration tolerance in Virtua Tennis is revealed with rivals who are difficult to beat. When, after many attempts, the only thing you get is a defeat, thoughts of incapacity and quitting come to your mind. If you are able to overcome them and continue fighting to reach your goal you will be training the ability to Tolerate Frustration. Especially in the initial stages of the game where the player is getting used to the rules (if he does not know them) and movements. It can also be manifested in the final stages of the game where the difficulty is already high and requires a lot of skill.
Stress Management is clearly revealed in set balls. It is not the same to fail a ball when the game is 15/15 than when this failure means losing a whole set. In these moments it is vital to maintain performance under pressure of losing the match. It is key to remain calm and not be influenced by the context of loss/gain. The video game, by exposing the player to a stressful situation, is actually training him to keep his feelings out from negative influence. Very likely in moments of initial stress the player will make mistakes and therefore will not achieve, but when he/she is able to manage that stress and have a good performance will be when he achieves his goals.
This type of video game is characterized by the need to manipulate a large group of characters, objects or data, making use of intelligence and planning, to achieve the objectives. A classic example would be Age of Empires (Ensemble Studios, 1997).
When you play a strategy game you have to recruit/create the largest number of units in the shortest time possible and to be able to coordinate them to attack your opponent hence we can deduce that the player will be training skills related to organization and optimization of resources.
Within the strategy there is this subgenre that is characterized by the non-continuous course of time and the progress of game in turns.
One of the most characteristic games of this genre is Civilization V (Firaxis Games 2010). The objective of this game is to manage a civilization (among 18 available), from its beginning to all the reaching of space race or conquering the entire planet, so they tend to be very long time games to be played.
They are strategy video games in which there are no turns. The time goes on continuously for the players. A typical example would be StarCraft II (Blizzard 2010). The action is observed from an aerial perspective and you guide your armies to dominate the battlefield. Many of the achievements of this video game consist of finishing missions before a certain time (which is usually very tight). Other achievements include getting buildings before a certain time as “Time to Choose” which consists on building a factory before the first 270 seconds of the game. To achieve this series of achievements we can think that organizational skills could be involved.
Other skills that are usually linked to the strategy genre are:
- Logic Reasoning.
- Problem Sensitivity. The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to get wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing it would be a problem.
- Monitoring Self & Others. Monitoring/assessing performance of yourself, other individuals or organizations to make improvements or to take corrective actions.
- Organizational Skills. The ability to use your time, energy, resources, etc., in an effective way so you achieve the things you want to achieve.
- Time Management. Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
Problem Sensitivity in video games like Starcraft is fundamental. You have to be very accurate in making decisions about which buildings and troops you spend your resources in. For example, it will be not good for you to have many combat units if you have just few units to collect resources. Problem Sensitivity is also present since you have to be aware since the first moment you receive attacks, where have you being attacked and what way have your buildings or troops being harmed, quantify that damage and recognize how much time and resources it will cost repair everything. Depending on this Monitoring and the amount of resources available, we can also know how long to wait until building the next facility. This skill is present throughout the game and consumes our cognitive processes constantly.
The complexity of this genre makes strategy video games a very good and complete tool of cognitive stimulation, since as it has already been seen in the multiple examples exposed, the player has to evoke a variety of skills of all kinds to have a good performance during the game.
These “simple” video games consist in the recreation of combats in a virtual environment. A characteristic example is Street Fighter V (Capcom, 2016).
The dynamic of these games is simple attack-defense actions. You have to attack by doing single movements or by doing combos (combination of them) to inflict damage to your opponent and defend yourself when your opponent attacks you.
When you play a fighting game you have to observe your opponent and act accordingly to her movements to defend and take advantage of her mistakes to attack his weak points. One of the achievements of this game is to attack your opponent before she does, to achieve it the speed is a key factor since you have to anticipate him.
Some of the soft skills that are most involved in fighting games are the following:
- Speed of Reasoning.
- Self confidence. Confidence in oneself and in one’s powers and abilities. Self-confident people don’t doubt themselves.
It is vital to use the Speed of Reasoning to defeat your opponent in video games such as Street Fighter, bending down quickly before a high kick or using a combo at the exact moment in which your opponent is unprotected.
Another achievement, for example, is to defeat your opponent without taking damage (perfect). This action is very complicated and to achieve it, it is necessary to anticipate all the moves of the opponent to defend against her as well as making a serie of combos to inflict as much damage as possible and defeat the opponent, taking into account the variable of time. We think this achievement could be related to the ability of Self Confidence because it is necessary to be aware and confident of their own abilities to defeat a rival without taking damage, to accept this challenge in sangfroid.
In this games the player controls a character who must advance through a game scenario by walking, running, jumping or climbing avoiding obstacles and avoiding some (bad) creatures. In addition, it is usually necessary to collect a serie of objects in order to complete the game.
These games usually use 2D views to move horizontally to one side of the screen to another (usually from left to right or from bottom to top), although there are also some 3D platform games. A classic example of 3D platform game is Super Mario 64 (Nintendo, 1996).
To further support the hypothesis that actually playing a video game can influence the human mind and produce changes, we rescue the article by Greg L. and others (2017). In this article, it is shown that videogames can increase gray matter in larger parts and in brain regions that usually decline by aging. This happens, according to the article, by the use of Spatial Reasoning skills (which includes skills such as Spatial Scanning, for example). It seems logical to think that you play a video game in which you have to orient yourself within a 3D environment which improves your ability of Spatial Reasoning, since you have to orient, scan the stage visually to look for stimuli, anticipate trajectories of enemies, etc.
The main skills that are related to this genre are:
- Speed of Reasoning.
- Visualization. The ability to apprehend a spatial form, object, or scene and match it with another spatial object, form or scene with the requirement to rotate it (one or more times) in two or three dimensions. Requires the ability to mentally imagine, manipulate or transform objects or visual patterns (without regard of the speed of responding) and to see (to predict) how they would appear under altered conditions (i.e. parts are moved or rearranged).
- Spatial Scanning.
- Time Management.
Spatial Scanning is one of the most used skills in games like Mario’s since, for example, as you can see in the image above it is essential to find a way to advance in the game. In addition, it is necessary to observe the disposition of the obstacles and to predict where to go avoiding the enemies that take lives from you and also avoiding falling into the water, for example.
The Time Management skill is constantly revealed as the player can always see the remaining time to finish the screen and then to take decisions such as to stop collecting certain objects to advance faster.
As this genre was defined at the beginning of the article, games of logic or mental agility, also called puzzles, they test the intelligence of the player to solve problems, which may be mathematical, spatial or logical. An example would be 2048 (Gabrielle Cirulli, 2014). This game is played by sliding your finger through the screen so the squares of the same numbers merge into their sum. Because the game mechanics we think that this genre of games develops the ability of Logical and Mathematical Reasoning.
This genre has already been studied under the scientific point of view for a long time. For example, a classic in the world of video games, Tetris (Alekséi Pázhitnov, 1984), is a video game that almos everyone knows and since 1984 is a an object of study. Tetris has been also linked to skills of Spatial Reasoning (among many others, Alloza & Escribano, 2017).
Below are three of the most related skills to puzzle genre:
- Logical Reasoning.
- Spatial Relations. Ability to rapidly perceive and manipulate (mental rotation, transformation, reflection, etc.) visual patterns or to maintain orientation with respect to objects in space. Spatial Relation may require the identification of an object when viewed from different angles or positions.
- Organizational Skills.
Logical Reasoning is the soft skill that is present the most in this type of games par excellence. As you can see in 2048 game, you have to join squares containing the same number and organize them in such a way that the largest number is always in one corner and the smaller one next to them in a decreasing way. This is complex since every time you make a movement you will see a “2” or “4” randomly appears and, if in several movements you do not manage to join squares, these will accumulate. If the board is filled and you can not make moves, you lose the game.
The puzzle games in general also require a sustained attention over time, always planning and organizing the movements, always anticipating what could happen and playing within the logical rules of the game.
Role playing games
They are characterized by the interaction with the character, a deep narrative and an evolution of the character as the story progresses. To achieve the evolution, the player is usually engaged in an adventure where he meets new characters, exploring a unknown virtual world and getting weapons, experience, allies and even magic tricks. A classic example of Role-Playing Games is Neverwinter Nights (Bioware, 2002).
In video games like the Neverwinter Nights you have to defeat big enemies or large hordes for which it is necessary to get specific weapons and armor. This type of mechanics stimulates the development of the ability of Complex Problem Solving, since you always have to face a problem to be solved, or find a an enemy weakness point to ‘finish it’. Other kind of actions can be finding objects that someone has lost and she asked you to recover it or solving a puzzle in order to open a chest of treasures, etc.
Many role-playing games are played online with many other players so players need mutual understanding to achieve a common goal as getting a certain object or exploring a new territory. Therefore, social skills such as Communication, Coordination With Others and Team Management can be improved by playing online role-playing games.
Soft Skills involved in this genre of video games:
- Complex Problem Solving.
- Problem Sensitivity.
- Judgement and Decision Making.
- Organizational skills.
- Coordinating with Others. Adjusting your own actions in relation to others’ actions.
In role-playing video games -especially in online games- you have to perform missions or to defeat enemies together with other players because if you try to do it alone, almost surely you are going to fail. Therefore it is necessary to put on the table such skills as Communication and Coordination with others to get in agreement with other players in decision making situations as what will be the better position of each player and which actions (as to attack, to defend, to heal…)have to be performed by which players.
There are situations within these games that you can see yourself with the responsibility of managing a team of players. This happens for example in a MMORPG (social, online and massive role-playing games) called Guild Wars 2 (NCSoft, 2012), in which a number of important players come together every day to do missions that, individually, would be impossible to perform. In these cases certain players adopt the role of leader, developing skills of Team Management, to be able to lead the whole group towards victory.
In this type of video game, players use weapons to advance in the game, firing and eliminating their enemies. The shooters can be classified as First Person Shooter (FPS) such as Counter Strike (Valve, 1999), Third Person Shooter (TPS) such as Grand Theft Auto (Rockstar games, 1997) and Shoot ’em Up such as Metal Slug ( SNK, 1996).
The shooter video games are one of the kind of games in which stages run faster. The Speed of Reasoning is one of the most developed skills by players within these games as we have discussed previously in the CS:GO article. Some games like CS:GO are played by teams and to win the game, again it is necessary to communicate and to understand each other players, so the skills of Teamwork, Coordination and Communication are also present in CS:GO.
The most relevant soft skills involved in this genre are:
- Stress Management.
- People/Team Management. Motivating, developing and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job/task.
- Speed of Reasoning.
It is pretty clear that Stress Management skill is present when playing a FPS game you are the only one in your team that remain alive and you have to eliminate all the rival team players, or when you are playing a terrorist character and then you have planted the bomb and you have to stay close to it defending it without knowing from where the enemies will come.
People/Team Management in CS:GO is continuously developed since the games are five against five so you are always playing beside four teammates. The mission of the terrorists is to plant the bomb and anti-terrorists is to deactivate it, always keeping in mind one team is trying to kill each other.
Generally what is emphasized in shooters is that your actions have an impact in a space location far from you (that is to say, to shoot). It seems a minor detail but in a cognitive level and skills is relevant, since you always have to be alert to your environment, scanning for targets or more importantly, taking coverage. Planning, Complex Problem Solving and Time Management, are some of the skills that do not directly link to the genre but that can certainly be greatly enhanced depending on the situations.
It consists on the recreation of real-world activities, letting the player to take control of what happens like in Farmville (Zynga, 2009) video game.
In Farmville you have to coordinate in a very precise way how long it will take your seeds to grow up in order to collect them and have the least amount of unfarmed land possible (that is, optimize the collection or farming strategy), for this we think that the Time Management skill could be involved along with the Resource Management skill.
Some soft skills involved in simulation video games:
- Complex Problem Solving.
- Judgement & Decision Making.
- Organizational skills.
Creativity is especially enhanced in the majority of simulation worlds, at the beginning, as players, we gain the power to design our own world. For example, we choose where to till the soil to plant what we decided. So we can create very creative structures that will serve to establish a strategy.
In simulation video games one of the skills that is developed the most is Complex Problem Solving. This is because, as in real life (which is what these games simulate), most of the problems that we are going to find include complex characteristics. For example, to buy a tractor you need money that you earn selling tomatoes but first you have to buy tomato’s seeds, plant them and wait, always taking into account random variables that can affect the process.
Finally, Planning and Organization as more latent skills, since as players to play in simulation worlds we always make a strategy to achieve an objective (thus improving the ability of Goal Setting). An example of this would be the example of the tractor just commented before.
Survival games are set in a hostile, intense and open-world context, where players usually start with a minimal equipment and are required to collect resources, craft tools, weapons and set shelters to survive as long as possible.
An example of these games is Rust (Facepunch Studios, 2013) whose only goal is to survive. To do this you have to overcome fights against enemies such as hunger, thirst and cold. Actions such as making fire, building a shelter, hunting animals are typical in this game that provide a solution to the mentioned problems. You can also create alliances with other players to build a city, playing as a social and community player will increase your survival options.
This complex genre has many soft skills involved, some would be:
- Organizational skills.
- Complex Problem Solving.
- Frustration tolerance.
Creativity becomes clear when you have to manufacture objects from other existing resources. For example to construct a bow you have to collect 35 wood units and 5 pieces of cloth first and intuit that with these items you can build more complex objects. So you always have to figure out new “recipes” to build new tools, or build your shelter in the most optimal way possible in order to avoid enemies, for example.
Organization skills are also involved, especially in actions such as building a house or even more, a fortress, in a strategic area where you have quick access to all the resources to be able to continue advancing in the game. And speaking of resources, you also have to organize well the “expeditions” to get resources and what resources as a player you are interesting in if you want back home safely.
On the other hand, Complex Problem Solving is present in decisions such as where to hide your objects inside your house and how to protect it to minimize the chances of being robbed, or how to spend the night with few resources, or how to defend yourself against an attack, decide the withdrawal for ensure survival, etc.
From an observational perspective, we arrive at preliminary conclusions about how video game genre differences could enhance different abilities. This is evidenced by observing the different ways of playing specific video games, such as CS:GO (Shooter) and Super Mario 64 (Platform), since different games display different challenges and situations to be played. This is the key to understanding why a type of games enhances some abilities and not others.
The stimulation that player receives is essential to be able to see what she is training. In an example of daily life, it could be said that a person could not get a car driving license if she has only been driving motorcycles before, of course you can not train social communication skills or team management if you are only playing CS:GO, but we are pretty sure that there are elements in common in certain levels of interaction between soft skills in both real and virtual video games worlds.
Thanks to previous research (among others, Alloza et al., 2017) we already know that video games develop some soft skills, but a more detailed analysis is necessary if we want to achieve a video game classification by genre and to establish a solid relationship with soft skills that every genre develops. We think it is necessary to go deeper into each genre since in this article we have made a general preliminary analysis, explaining each game category and putting some examples to help for a better understanding into the relationship between soft skills and actions to be made within each game by genre but from a still so generalist perspective. We will post new articles focussed on a specific genre each time and also analyzing its subgenres in a more systematized way.
To finish we would like to share a summary table where you can see the different types of video games genre and their relationship with the soft skills that are present in our research:
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- Alloza, S., Escribano, F., Delgado, S., Corneanu, C. and Escalera, S. (2017). XBadges. Identifying and training soft skills with commercial video games. Cornell University Library, Extracted from http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-1957/CoSeCiVi17_paper_2.pdf.
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