Gaming and Happiness

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Westshore Campus hosts a “Gaming and Happiness” lecture, exploring the links between gaming and health. 

By Jonathan Beard

The Robert Searson Learning for Life program held a lecture titled “Gaming and Happiness” at Cuyahoga Community College’s Westshore Campus in Westlake, OH on Wednesday, November 15, 2023. The lecture, part of Learning for Life’s “Pursuit of Happiness” series, explored the history of gaming and its effects on mental health and wellness.  

The Pursuit of Happiness Series, according to Tri-C’s website, is meant to explore topics that “facilitate happiness” in the lives of viewers. Bhavna Thakkar, an associate professor of Psychology and one of the coordinators for the event, said the lecture was one of several in the series, which also includes topics such as exercise, music, sleep, and dancing. She explained that the series was planned with internal and external approaches. “The internal part is that students learn beyond the classroom and learn something for themselves internally to improve their own lives,” said Thakkar. “Externally, we were trying to encourage community involvement with the college. And so we saw so many people coming here and taking part in our lecture series, wanting to know what we are doing as Tri-C.”  

Dr. Mike Piero, an English professor at Tri-C’s Westshore Campus, was the speaker at the event. He explored a variety of topics from gaming’s initial history to modern applications, such as its use to help children with learning disabilities, and how virtual reality games have helped create a sense of community among players.

A Q&A session was held for attendees to ask questions regarding the topics discussed. 

“I really liked how he talks about, specifically, like, AI and VR, and how they’re so more recent and modern compared to the more vintage video games,” said Eman Hasan, a Tri-C student who attended the lecture. She also took an interest in discussions on augmented reality, including exhibits that reacted to interactions from visitors. “It really piqued my interest,” Hasan said. 

“It was an honor to be able to share, this information with folks,” Piero said after the event. “There’s a lot of poor stereotypes about gaming and about gamers, that it’s isolated people, that they’re antisocial and just kind of wasting time. And I think when we look to the research, we find a whole host of productive ways that folks who are using games to connect with others, to better their lives, and think critically about the game worlds that they’re so immersed in.”  

Thakkar said that Tri-C was already seeing success with participation and feedback. Ultimately, she hoped student involvement would continue to increase. “I’m hoping more students will participate. I’m hoping that the students and the community get to know each other. I’m hoping that the community and the administration get connected. I’m hoping that this goes internally within the students, and I’m hoping that it goes externally within the community,” She said. 

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