On-campus game rooms should be provided

Palo Alto High School needs a place for students to relax and de-stress, a place where they can enjoy free time without distracting others. The solution to the constant problem of stressed out students is simple: a campus game room.

According to an article by Health Fitness Revolution, games, while extremely entertaining, also contribute to reducing stress and improving brain function in students.

Students who are not focusing on homework and instead talking with friends or playing games on their phones would no longer be distracting focused students in the Media Arts Center, library or any other available quiet study space.

The library can become very busy and noisy, which easily distracts studying students. Though librarians try to quiet the noise, it is usually in vain. Instead, these unfocused students could be playing games, talk and listening to music — all stress reducing activities — in the new game room.

The subsequent question becomes: would this really work and would it be popular? Currently employed practices have proven that yes, it would be extremely popular. Starting earlier this year, puzzles have been left out in the Math Resource Center (MRC) and library. These puzzles are almost never left untouched.

Games can help brain function in two ways: improve cognitive skills and speed up response time.

“The puzzles in the MRC are really fun,” junior Stella Carpenter said. “I enjoy going in with my friends whenever we have a few spare minutes and talking and working on the puzzles. It would be so fun to have more puzzles or games at Paly.”

One issue with these puzzles is that they take up space and distract focused students. The MRC offers textbooks and a quiet space for students to focus and study. Sometimes finding textbooks in the library can be challenging, however the MRC makes them readily available. However, with the puzzles and  groups of rowdy people there, just like in the library, students are having a harder time focusing.

If the puzzles were moved to the game room, more space would open up in the library and other quiet spaces for students who need to study.

Another reason for necessity of the game room, while seemingly unrelated, is sickness. Missing school is difficult for all students, and once behind, it is very hard to catch up. An estimated two-thirds of sick leave in employees is stress-related, according to a study by Willem Van Rhenen and Roland W. B. Blonk.

Laughter is one of the best solutions to stress; it releases endorphins in the brain and leads to white blood cell production. Releases of endorphins promote trust, empathy and compassion.

“Laughter not only releases the tension of pent-up feelings and helps a person maintain perspective, but it also appears to have actual physical effects that reduce stress hormone levels,”  The American Accreditation Health Care Commission said in its in-depth report, Lifestyle Changes.

Another perk of the game room would be cognitive brain growth. Games can help  brain function in two ways: improve cognitive skills and speed up response time.

Cognitive abilities are what allow us to remember things, pay attention, speak or perform just about any task. Board games help the brain build and retain cognitive associations through problem solving. Problem solving skills are crucial for school, especially in subjects such as math or science.

Fast-paced games such as Slap Jack or Speed help the brain learn to recognize patterns and react to them, according to an article by Health Fitness Revolution.

These heightened responses translate into any timed test. The faster a student can respond to a question, the more questions they can thoroughly answer.

Also, no one wants to spend a lot of time on homework; by improving the brain’s response time, a student would spend less time on homework and more time doing things they enjoy.

Coloring books are also a very simple solution. While coloring books may seem to be exclusively for younger children, they train the brain to focus on one task at hand.

Because coloring stimulates the same areas in the brain as meditation, peace of mind and relaxation can be achieved through coloring.

“The relaxation that [coloring] provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress,” psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala states in her article “Coloring Isn’t Just For Kids” that.

The first step toward a game room at Paly would be finding a place on campus to put this room. Luckily, Paly now has an abundance of space.

Since a new Math and Social Studies building were recently built, Paly has two open buildings –– the 300s building and the 700s building –– both with available classrooms to utilize. Clearing one room for games in either one of these buildings would be extremely easy and beneficial for students.

“Having a game room at Paly is a good idea because [students are] always looking for a way to get away from all the stress and work and relax,” junior Deepali Sastry said. “There’s definitely a need for a place like this It’s nice that the game room is on campus so [students] don’t have to leave.”  Having this game  room would be very beneficial to the student body, and allow them to better focus.