As Cracked has pointed out before, mankind is just now coming around to the idea that video games might actually be good for something after all. We need these stories to counterbalance two decades of claims that games brainwash kids into going on shooting sprees, and after having watched many friends abandon their social lives in favor of grinding for XP.
Remember, games are neither good nor evil -- it's all in what you do with them. For instance ...
6Online Gamers Have Saved Strangers' Lives
In any discussion about the benefits of multiplayer gaming, its capacity to bring people together would not usually enter into the equation. Yes, current technology allows gamers to speak to opponents at the other side of the world with nothing but a cheap headset, but the conversations tend to revolve around the promiscuity of the mothers of said opponents, so that's not all that impressive.
But among the jerks, there are some downright heartwarming stories. For instance, a Canadian teenager made the news after helping an autistic youth online who was showing serious signs of depression, to the point of hinting at suicide. The teen had no idea who the other kid was, or where he lived, or anything other than his gamertag. That didn't stop him -- he got in contact with the police, who contacted the at-risk kid over Xbox Live. They were then able to spend a few hours talking him down.
Since the hero of the story hasn't been named, we just have to assume he looks like this.
And here's the best part: When authorities got in touch with the suicidal kid's parents (who lived in Texas), they said they had no idea there was a problem. It took a 14-year-old gamer who lived 1,500 miles away to see the signs.
Meanwhile, Robert Chambers also benefited from the concern of online strangers. He was sitting at the computer playing the browser game Evony when a fire started in his house. His muscular dystrophy prevented him from getting to a phone to call for help, so he turned to the people he was playing with online. He gave them his home address (which isn't advised when your house isn't on fire). Thankfully, his fellow players got in touch with the authorities, who showed up and carried Chambers to safety within minutes.
This would have been a very different story if Chambers had a history of griefing.
With all those stories of cyberbullying swirling around, we need to be reminded that on the whole, forging connections between strangers is a good thing.
5A Guy Saved a Life With His FPS Medic Training
War games aren't just about mindless slaughter -- pretty much every war video game has you play as the good guys, and each one has missions that involve rescuing hostages or giving aid to civilians.
But still, an entire campaign of Medal of Modern Warfare: Ghost Recon Duty isn't going to teach us any skills that help us to actually rescue people and save lives, right? These are games where you "save" people by blowing the hell out of the cartoonish enemies that are threatening them, and where you recover from bullet wounds by pausing to catch your breath.
"This man needs a nap, stat!"
Some games strive for realism, however, and if not for one of them called America's Army and Paxton Galvanek, a random dude who played the ever-loving shit out of it, there might be at least one less person on the planet.
Galvanek is a North Carolina man who was just driving along the highway back in 2007 when some pretty scary stuff started to go down. An SUV in front of him lost control, flipped upside-down and started to spew smoke. Ignoring the fact that "Paxton Galvanek" sounds more like a Bond villain than a citizen hero, Galvanek stopped his car and rushed to help.
He was later punished by being forced to appear on Fox News and explain what a video game is.
There was one teeny tiny problem that would have prevented most people from helping: Galvanek had no prior real-world medical experience. However, he did have loads of virtual hours of medic training, thanks to, you guessed it, America's Army. The game is not only known for having super-realistic weapons and combat, but it also boasts medic training that apparently rivals a real-life EMT course. And we're not talking "Get the health mushroom to the victim when his heart icon gets below 50 percent" here. It's the real stuff.
Galvanek went to the flipped SUV and safely pulled a passenger from the smoking metal heap. He then saw that the driver had lost two of his fingers and was bleeding heavily. Galvanek pulled him out and, remembering his "medical" training, used a towel as a dressing to curb the blood loss. He then told the driver, who must have thought it was lucky as hell that he crashed his car so close to a doctor, to raise his hand over his head to lessen the blood flow and prevent further blood loss. Galvanek capped it all off by evaluating the rest of the man's injuries, which included a cut on his head, until the paramedics arrived.
That's right: Thanks to a video game, Paxton Galvanek was able to save the life of a complete stranger -- without any of that highfalutin medical schooling. Let's see board games match that.
"Now slowly, carefully, pull his dick off."