Benefits of Gaming: How “Plants vs. Zombies” Helps Improve Problem-Solving Skills

“Plants vs. Zombies” is just one of the video games that achieved phenomenal success. But apart from killing time, does it provide any practical use in life?

The zombie craze is everywhere. Writers have been inspired to revive these brain-dead creatures that have hit it really big. Sorry, Rick Grimes, but they have virtually invaded the world and there is no stopping them. They have movies, TV shows, and games!

Thus, came the PopCap Games sensational hit: Plants vs. Zombies. Initially designed for the OS X and Windows, it is now compatible with Nintendo, Xbox, Android, Blackberry, and Apple devices. Several versions have been released, including one for Facebook.

Designed to be simple enough for casual players to learn, yet challenging enough for hardcore gamers, Plants vs. Zombies has gained a following. In fact, it remains to be the fastest selling PopCap Games video game since 2009. The world is obsessed with Plants vs. Zombies-and zombies per se-that just about everyone you come across plays or knows it.

So, what’s so special about the game? Does anyone actually benefit from shelling out a couple of dollars to purchase the latest version released every year or so?

If you are skeptical about the long-term effects of gaming, you are not alone. Ever since video games came to be, a number of people-mostly adults-have condemned video games as a waste of time and money. This inspired studies to determine the impact of gaming. The results were remarkably positive, leading to the creation of digital learning tools.

In a nutshell, people learn faster when they’re having fun. Think about it. Would you rather sit through a three-hour lecture delivered by a monotonous speaker than learn Mandarin through an interactive app equipped with all sorts of fancy features?

Plants vs. Zombies won’t teach you Mandarin, but it can improve your problem-solving skills. It immerses you into a virtual environment that simulates a probable life threatening situation-although exaggerated. You know it is superficial, yet you physiologically respond to it as though it’s real.

Here are three key game features that can enhance your decision-making and other survival skills:

Weapon Selection. You start out with a basic arsenal composed of sunflowers and pea shooters. As you move to higher levels, you unlock additional artillery. Simultaneously, you will be faced with armed zombies. To spice things up, you reach the point when you can arm yourself only with a limited number of weapons. This pushes you to weigh the pro’s and con’s of your choices.

Site Challenges. Arsenal constraints. Tougher enemies. You’re just warming-up. The real challenge comes when the game introduces new environments. The absence of sunlight and a pool in the backyard increase the threats and hazards. This calls for flexibility in your part, enabling you to adopt to different conditions and adjust your weapon preferences.

Time Pressure. Frankly, the pop-up warnings kill the suspense. Nonetheless, the game manages to bring in a number of conflicts that increase stress levels, ultimately testing your mental preparedness and alertness.

These three characteristics of Plants vs. Zombies are just a few of the many ways in which games serve as mental crunches. Still not convinced that gaming has its benefits? Or are you a wee bit encouraged to gift your kids the latest Xbox or Nintendo versions? The best way to win yourself over is to take the game for a test drive and find out for yourself.

In spite of being criticized as a mere distraction from the tedium, games have proven to be effective instructional tools. Just like Plants vs. Zombies, most video games are not intended to educate, but they can enhance skills necessary in solving real life problems. Truly, there’s fun in learning.