10 Reasons Architects Should Play More Video Games

Have you ever considered that playing video games could hold the same benefits as painting, sketching and sculpting?

Michael LaValley Michael LaValley

Michael LaValley is an n.y.-state registered architect, career strategist and blogging entrepreneur. His blog, Evolving Architect, helps creative professionals to channel their passions for architecture and design into successful careers.

“Video games foster the mind-set that allows creativity to grow.” — Nolan Bushnell

As Architects, we often consider several creative pursuits, such as sketching, painting and sculpting, as ways to develop our creative processes and hone our craft. But, have you ever considered that playing video games could hold the same benefits? Probably not, but here are 10 reasons why you should start to.

“Assassin’s Creed: Revelations”; via Ubisoft

1. Improve your hand-eye coordination

When you’re playing console video games (PlayStation® 4, Xbox One), you’ll almost always be using a standard controller, held with two hands. The game will show you prompts on the TV screen, and you will have to interact with this controller in order to complete a task. This back and forth leads to heightened hand-to-eye coordination because you build a stronger relationship with your visual cues. In order to actually win some of the games you’ll play, your reaction time needs to be close to nothing, your fingers moving extremely quickly as you go.

2. Discover your inspiration

Video games are full of imaginative environments to explore, time periods to peruse and invented architectural styles. With advancements in technology, the latest console generation is closer than ever to producing life-like settings to roam around, get lost in and find inspiration from. Sometimes I just “walk” around an open-world game and explore the nuances it holds.

“The Last Guardian”; via PlayStation.Blog

3. Develop your 3D perception

One thing I’ve noticed over time is my increasing ability to understand three-dimensional space because of video games. Because you’re forced to manipulate a character or your viewpoint in real time, video games provide the framework in a similar way to photography or filmmaking that tricks your eye into comprehending the space beyond the screen. Many games will play with depth and field of view in order to provide an experience that is as lifelike as possible. As a result, your ability to perceive changes on screen increases and allows you to work more efficiently with computers.

4. Cultivate your digital space

Let’s face it. In the office, the computer is a key part of many designers’ work-flows. When it comes to developing a building design, the computer can offer new ways of seeing the finished product in digital space. The key here is that video games often require you to move through this space based on the controller schemes they provide.

The ability to pick up a controller or interact with a computer interface (mouse and keyboard) becomes essential in your day-to-day efficiency. Those who don’t interface with computer models on a regular basis are less likely to understand how it can be manipulated and transformed. Consider playing games as the practice you need in order to quickly identify problems in your own models and how to interact with its tools.

“Grand Theft Auto V”; via Rockstar

5. Become more social

Not the ‘Chatty Kathy’ in your office? That’s alright, video games may be the answer for you. Even though many people assume that gamers are reclusive and withdrawn from the world, in fact, it can be quite the opposite. Similar to the way we interact with the internet through social media, forums and so on, online team multiplayer games often break through barriers and create dynamic relationships between the gamers themselves. Many games provide a platform in which gamers feel comfortable to express themselves because they are among like-minded individuals.

6. Increase your strategic thinking

Video games can increase the gamer’s ability to react strategically to problems they are faced with. The growing trend in some of today’s higher-end games (think the equivalent of blockbuster movies) is to create wide-open ‘sandboxes’ in which the player is dropped in and must survive on their own. The game will make suggestions here and there, but the player must decide the best course of action. The key here is choice. The responsibility is placed on the gamer. This creates almost limitless permutations of how the game can play out. You become reason for your own success or failure based on the choices you make.

“Journey”; via BuzzFeed

7. Reduce your stress levels

One of the reasons I play video games for at least half an hour each day is just to relax. The work of an architect can be demanding, and we all need ways to release the tension we feel. That doesn’t mean that we all dislike our jobs, just that level of work we encounter on a day-to-day basis is engaging and psychologically taxing. Video games, in a similar way as TV or movies, can act as a temporary escape.

8. Slow aging (sort of)

The phrase “use it or lose it” relates to your best asset, your intelligence. There is a reason why people tell you to keep active. If you don’t continually feed your mind information, it will become less active over time, and functions you may take for granted now will slowly fade. In fact, playing video games can keep you lucid and alert. There have been studies done to test visual perception between gamers and non-gamers. The results often conclude that gamers are more perceptive between shades of gray and can make decisions when given the choice of two images in quicker succession.

“BioShock Infinite”; via BuzzFeed

9. Develop your personality traits

Would you consider yourself a leader? Are you a passive follower? Video games can improve your ability to lead. In multiplayer games specifically, the player is often required to coordinate an objective in real time with real people. Those who are timid or soft-spoken may find that they are leading the charge against an army attack or a wave of bloodthirsty aliens. Games, especially online, can require significant teamwork. Teamwork is only successful with the right communication to lead it. That doesn’t mean that everyone is a leader. It means that you have the opportunity to build yourself up and take that confidence back into the real world.

10. Have fun

Yeah, I’ll say it: Video games are really fun. That may sound a tad subjective, but having played everything from mind-numbing puzzle games on my phone to adrenaline-pumping first-person twitch shooters on my PS4, I can tell you that there is a video game type out there for everyone. A lot of what we do in life is necessary to survive. Video games should be something that you go to because you can. If you open yourself up to the experience, it may just change your life.

“Mass Effect 4”; via BuzzFeed

As you can probably tell from above, I’m an avid gamer. And while I do think that there are some immediate benefits of several of the points above, they do take time. As both a gamer and an architect, I’ve had many years to develop these skills. Like most things, you’ll see more benefits with consistency and practice.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s play.

This post first appeared on Evolving Architect. Top image: “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves”; via BuzzFeed.

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