Since the dawn of video gaming, there have been debates over the overall benefits of the craft. Many people associate gaming with violence, introversion, and poor attention spans. But what if that weren’t the case? What if, instead, video games were good for you? What if video games could make you…smarter?
As discussed consistently by researchers, video games actually do have a great impact on cognitive functioning. But specifically, what can games do for you? Well, the research has shown that different kinds of games (such as action, strategy, puzzle, etc.) can each provide individual benefits when it comes to one’s intellect but overall, games can provide several key assets:
- Increased Attention to Detail
- Boost in decision-making abilities
- Improved Vision
- Better Problem Solving Abilities
- Increased Motivation
- Increased Spatial Reasoning
What’s causing all of this? Well, the research indicates that within consistent gamers, the amount of gray matter present within their brain has increased. Now, you might be wondering what gray matter is. Well, to simplify, one’s gray matter has a key function of regulating and controlling the body’s senses, emotions, and self-control. It does this by positively affecting the brain’s neuroplasticity (its ability to adapt and change neural pathways).
When it comes down to it, various studies indicate that video game players are more capable of processing information quicker than their non-gamer counterparts. Think about it, games tend to have several different stimuli occurring simultaneously.
In order to adequately progress, you’d be forced to shift your thinking. Playing a video game also forces you to learn through kinesthetic, visual, and auditory stimulation at the exact same time to further boost cognition. As you can see, a gamer is tapping into all three different learning styles to actively learn rather than passively learn.
Beyond simply being an effective intelligence booster, games can also provide other benefits with regards to our perception of outcomes.
In the book Super Better by Jane McGonigal, she notes that video games have been shown to boost one’s individual resilience. In real life, we are often faced with the possibility of failure. Unfortunately, this inevitable outcome tends to be discouraged. Our culture has programmed us to stay away from failure at all costs. Realistically speaking, however, failure is a crucial component in life. Without failure, we don’t grow.
Jane McGonigal notes that in a video game, you will typically fail often. In fact, many games are designed in a way that requires failure before you can learn how to become victorious—a degree of trial and error is required. She points out that because of this, those that play video games more frequently are more familiar with failure and because of that, those individuals are much better equipped to handle it.
Personally, based on the research I’ve witnessed and studies I’ve read, the type of game that provides the most overall benefits seems to be action games. But remember, every type of game (role-playing, strategy, action, etc.) has their own specific benefits (which I’ll touch on in a future article). If you want more information on the specifics about what personal attributes are affected by games, be sure to check out the links below!
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