I saw this article pop up on my Twitter feed (my apologies if you tweeted it and didn’t get credit), and I have to say, I can definitely see it. Although since I’m kind of bad at most games, I wonder if it really helps me that much. Heh. The main thrust of the article:
A growing body of university research suggests that gaming improves creativity, decision-making and perception. The specific benefits are wide ranging, from improved hand-eye coordination in surgeons to vision changes that boost night driving ability.
People that play ‘action’ video games make decisions up to 25% faster, and they can also pay attention to six things at once – two more than your average non-gamer. Sounds good, right? Playstations for everyone! NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND:
Electronic gameplay has its downside. Brain scans show that violent videogames can alter brain function in healthy young men after just a week of play, depressing activity among regions associated with emotional control, researchers at Indiana University recently reported. Other studies have found an association between compulsive gaming and being overweight, introverted and prone to depression. The studies didn’t compare the benefits of gaming with such downsides.
Though I always wonder if the second half of that has anything to do with gaming specifically. A person who is compulsive in one aspect of their life may have similar problems elsewhere. Anyway, the story goes on to say that the most violent games are also the ones that seem to generate the most beneficial effects. There’s a lot of interesting information here, with a bit of hyperbole, but I think this is my favorite part:
The vast majority of the research did not directly compare gaming with hours of other intense, mental activities such as solving math equations.
Yeah, mostly because you can’t convince a whole mess of 20 to 30 year olds to stop playing WoW to do math problems for 8 hours. However, there is a large scale study of Starcraft II players ongoing via the University of Vancouver in BC. It will be interesting to see what comes of that.