Video games have been around for a few generations now (Eight Generations! You scream with indignation as you push back your glasses and pull up your pants even further). As with anything new, it has seen its fair share of controversy. Some of these accusations are mild: it increases the chance of childhood obesity due to its sedentary nature. Sometimes the shade thrown at video games is a bit more, well how do I put this eloquently….bat-sh*t, papaya-screwing insane. For example, in the UK video games have been blamed for the re-emergence of rickets. Yes, rickets…which for anyone that isn’t familiar with a disease that was all but stamped out about a century ago, its causes bones to go soft due to a calcium and vitamin D deficiency. The thing is real honest to God scientists decided to see if video games had actual benefits, and guess what? They absolutely do.
Starcraft/ World of Warcraft benefits “brain flexibility”
Starcraft/ World of Warcraft is what is called a MMORPG (or a massively multiplayer online role playing game). You create a character and navigate an online world populated by other players. You can complete tasks, buy items and even organize groups of people to help you out with your attacks. A study conducted by the Queen Mary University of London found that the test subjects would see a significant increase in cognitive flexibility and even completed tasks with observably faster speed and reaction time.
Although not a dedicated online game, the SIMS is a life-simulator, which is basically like virtually playing ‘house’ with dolls (which sounds a lot less creepy than ‘life-simulator). Playing 40 hours of SIMS a week, had the same exact effect as Starcraft.
Games release endorphins into the brain (all games)
I hope I’m not giving the crazies more fodder with this statement, but video games release the brain’s self-made feel good drug and pain-reliever (OH, NO, IT’S A GATEWAY BRAIN DRUG!!!! DRUGS ARE BAD!! SO VIDEO GAMES ARE TOO!!!). It’s actually so effective that burn victims reported a 30-50% decrease in pain when playing video games. Endorphins have also been proven to boost cognitive ability/ speed, heightened awareness and information processing.
Minecraft is a game which puts the player in a massive online world, which they must build, hunt and survive the bad guys. The thing is that you can build anything; it’s almost as if the world is built out of Lego which the player can reappropriate blocks of material to build whatever they want. The caveat here is there are no instructions, as the creator didn’t want anyone to be influenced by instructions. So not only does the game encourage creative problem solving while playing, it also encourages it outside the game. How you ask? Well people have to look to the internet to find solutions to problems that usually would be found in the game’s documentation. Inadvertently, it has also created a community of forums, chat boards and guides.
All Games (on and off line)
It has been shown that across the board with regard to age and skill level, video games help develop spacial perception, fine motor and problem solving skills. It has also been shown to help people rehabilitate after strokes, with notable improvement continuing well after physical therapy. In a study done at a New Zealand rehabilitation center, they treated a total of 168 teens suffering from depression. Half of the group was given a game named SPARX to play which reinforced positive thinking and anti-anxiety exercises. The other group underwent conventional therapy based treatment. The video game group saw a 44% recovery rate where as the other group only saw a 26% recovery rate.
See Also: Dumbest Vehicle Related Inventions
So no matter what genre of game you like, all of them have cognitive and even physical benefits. Shooters have actually been proven to give their player better eye-sight, yup you read that right. If you feel that there are more games that I didn’t mention, feel free to let us know in the comment section below.