New Zealand promotes games. Become a part of game development.

New Zealand promotes games.  Become a part of game development.

Video games (Photo: Harvard Health)

At a time when more and more children are spending more and more time playing games, the New Zealand Game Developers Association and the US Mission to Aotearoa have collaborated to create Koia Jam, which aims to develop games that add value. Their goal is to create products that educate gamers about online bullying, harassment and misinformation, all of which have a negative impact on mental health.

Koia Game Jam in Aotearoa (Photo: US Embassy in New Zealand Facebook)

What is Koia Game Jam?

Koia Game Jam is about developing and building board and digital games based on a theme within 48 hours. “Koia Jam will provide an opportunity for people to explore the topics of misinformation and cyber security in an engaging way and to engage in critical thinking about complex issues,” said NZGDA Chair Chelsea Rapp. Koia Jam is a limited-time hack-a-thon for small teams trying to develop a playable game in a single weekend. Taking place from 25 to 27 November 2022, Koia Jam includes a series of web interviews with New Zealand game developers.

Who is Koia Game Jam for?

Koia Game Jam aims to provide a platform for aspiring game developers and inspire them and make them feel part of a wider community. Anyone who wants to use games to affect positive social change can take part in Koia, and this includes those who have never made a game before and those who want to increase their game development skills. Koia is a free event. Readers can register their teams at

Gaming helps to understand complex ideas.

According to a study by Harvard University’s The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, games excel at explaining concepts that are difficult to express verbally or visually. Games’ interactive experiences emphasize freedom within the constraints of structure. Players are allowed to try out alternative tactics and learn how each given decision affects an outcome later in the game. The capacity to “play out” many possibilities within the game environment lends itself to the research of complex, dynamic, coupled systems.

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Gaming and mental health (Photo: Kashmir Reader)

Games and resource management.

Victory is usually tied to the efficient management of quantifiable resources within the game’s internal economy, teaching players both resource management and other skills. Games promote teamwork when players come together and interact on a common basis.

Gaming and better brain functions.

Another study suggests that games improve brain functionality by allowing players to evaluate information faster, multitask more efficiently, and make split-second decisions that aid in problem solving.

Video games can also help with sound awareness and hand-eye coordination. According to Psychology Today, playing video games can improve a player’s ability to detect subtle distinctions in grayscale, known as “visual contrast sensitivity.”

Children playing computer games (Photo: University of South Wales Prishgol De Cymru)

Gaming and children.

According to the Federation of America Scientists’ 2010 report, games can teach interpretive analysis, problem solving and other higher-order cognitive talents, making children more competitive in the job market.

Children playing video games (Photo: University of Auckland)

Games help with anxiety and depression.

Playing video games can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. Dr Terry Fleming (Faculty of Health – University of Wellington) says. “We’ve started by looking at how teenagers use casual video games to improve their mood and relax and see if we can build on that by adding some mental health content and thereby increasing their mental well-being in addition to the relaxation already provided of this type of game.”

Some studies suggest that games can help people with social anxiety disorder learn about social cues and establish friendships and partnerships.

Games and violence

Although countless studies show that playing violent video games has no harmful effects on children, there have been some intriguing brain scan results. Children who play violent video games had higher levels of emotional arousal and less activity in the areas of the brain responsible for self-control. This is especially true for shoot-em-up games that simulate firearms, raising questions about how these violent video games affect youth.

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Gambling and addiction

The World Health Organization (WHO) included gambling disorders in the International Classification of Diseases. The reason for this is that gaming releases dopamine, which causes happy experiences and instructs the brain to repeat the experience to reap more of the same reward.

In 2019, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) opened a specialist clinic that treats video game addiction, especially for children and young adults. Studies say that children who struggle to fit in or have poor impulse control are more likely to be hooked on video games because the games help fill the void where it is difficult to build interactions in real life. According to studies, one in ten young people is addicted to video games.

It is important to know whether video games negatively affect or replace other elements in children’s lives. Online games allow children to “spend time” with their peers from the comfort of their bedroom. However, studies say this type of virtual gathering is a poor substitute for face-to-face engagement. The solution to this is for parents and guardians to monitor how long a child spends on games and what kind of games are chosen. Researchers suggest that one can help children choose more appropriate games by reading the information that console games provide about the game’s language, theme, level of violence, and so on.

Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Auckland.

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