Gaming improving decision making and problem solving? That seems to only hold in the narrow sense of the game itself because it doesn’t appear to be as true as the gaming public would like to believe, i.e. you won’t learn how to smoothen social moves, drive better, perform surgery better, or make better decisions generally in the world by say becoming an experienced tactics specialist of Be the Zombie. I don’t see the evidence but since I don’t read everything, perhaps EM could enlighten us and point towards the science that establishes that.
Nerves of steel? Lol, with all these benefits from better decision making, to better problem solving, AND growing uber balls it sounds like we could substitute military training and education with playing Be the Zombie. It’s cheaper and we get the same or better results.
The problem with specialist arguments: just play a few more hundred or thousand hours and you’ll see what we mean. And that’s perfectly legitimate as far as opinions go, but falls flat when considering everyday facts: doing anything for a few hundred hours will make a person feel like they’re learning something, overcoming something, or conquering fear “practicing steel nerves”, training reflexes etc. But whether this is true for people's lives and in which sense they truly benefit? That seems much more unclear: how can you distinguish a time wasting activity from a bad game that keeps requiring you to spend more and more hours to "get it"?
You could say the same about any other game or activity, even unpleasant ones that aren't fun. What makes a quality game world class and distinguishes it imho, is that you don’t have to earn a degree and spend hundreds of hours to learn what normal play is like and people still feel empowered in their choices and excited to play. Good game implies that genuine fun can be had easily. Hundreds of hours means that this is a specialist’s game mode and that balance decisions are made to benefit the highest level of play, while the rest have to bite a learning curve harsher than the early players, that tell everybody to grow some, when that's always easy for us to say because we were around the longest.
And in the case of Starcraft etc. this is fine but Techland’s position remains clear regarding the question: Is the game mode only for PvP specialists (that have the freedom to play for hours daily) or is it for the general public to enjoy casually? And the balancing updates have swung BOTH ways, which nourishes false expectations that try to please everybody with neither specialists or beginners satisfied. Techland has repeatedly stated that they want to cater both to veterans’ as well as to casual expectations. But who knows what route they'll take in the end?