1. Video Games May Slow Down Aging
Male, female, young adult, middle-aged person– all have one thing in common and that’s aging.
And while getting older and wiser has its perks, there are also a number of natural problems that come about as well.
There’s a reason why you see senior citizens driving at 25 MPH even though the speed limit is 45.
But just like maintaining a healthy exercise routine can help your body feel 50 when you’re 60, our brain can also be kept ‘in shape’.
In fact, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa showed that playing games can do just that.
The study had 681 healthy people aged 50 and older play 10 hours of a certain video game for five to eight weeks, and this is what they found:
“We’ve shown that 10 hours is enough to slow the decline by several years. We saw a range across all our tests from a minimum of a year-and-a-half all the way up to about six-and-a-half years of recovery or improvement. From just 10 to 14 hours of training, that’s quite a lot of improvement”.
It seems performing any task that requires exercising your mind will help it stay sharper, and that includes video games. (Source)
2. Better Decision Maker
C. Shawn Green from the University of Rochester wanted to see how games affect our ability to make decisions.
His goal was to test if games, which demand us to view and keep track of moving peripheral images, improve our ability to receive sensory data and thus help us make more precise decisions.
The study had a group of young adults with no gaming experience play an action game for 50 hours.
A second group of the same age played a slow-paced strategy game instead.
After the study, Green had nothing but good things to say:
“Action video games are fast-paced, and there are peripheral images and events popping up, and disappearing. These video games are teaching people to become better at taking sensory data in, and translating it into correct decisions.”
A colleague of his even went on to say that shooters can change the brain by dramatically enhancing many of our low level perceptual functions. Definitely good news for all the Halo and Call of Duty fans out there. (Source)
3. Games Can Help (Not Hurt!) Your Eyesight
There are few gamer kids who grew up without ever hearing their parents say “you’re going to go blind watching that screen all day”.
For a while it did seem like they had a point since we tend to blink much less frequently while playing a game.
This can cause serious problems like eyestrain and dry eye syndrome.
Another team of researchers from the University of Rochester sought to prove if games really worsen our vision.
The 2009 study involved having a group of experienced first-person shooter gamers play Call of Duty and Unreal Tournament 2004 while more casual gamers played slow games like The Sims 2.
After testing, those who played the first-person shooters showed signs of having better vision that the others.
Daphne Bavelier, the leader of the study, discovered that playing action games improves an ability called contrast sensitivity function.
This ability helps us discern between changes in shades of gray against a colored backdrop, which is very beneficial while driving at night. (Source)
4. Video Games Can Make You Less Anti-Social
One of the worst stereotypes associated with playing video games is that those who do are awkward social rejects.
Even if there plenty of basement-dwelling gamers out there, that doesn’t mean all gamers have problems socializing in public and making friends.
Researchers from three different institutions in the UK and Canada recently did their own studies to find out how common antisocial behavior is among gamers.
What each one discovered is that gamers who partake in live social environments are actually the most communicative and friendly people there.
“Gamers aren’t the antisocial basement-dwellers we see in pop culture stereotypes; they’re highly social people,” said one of the researchers who went to more than 20 events where gamers get together.
While observing gamers he even went on to admit that they formed stronger relationships than non-gamers due to their matching love of games. (Source)
5. Games Can Enhance Your Ability To Learn
Contrary to popular belief that video games make you bad at school, researchers from the UK found that certain video games can actually enhance our brain flexibility.
The study was done at both the University College London and Queen Mary University of London and had 72 volunteers play two different games for 40 hours over six to eight weeks.
The games were Starcraft, a fast real-time strategy game, and The Sims, a slower life-simulation game.
Here’s what they had to say:
“This result supports the notion that the within-StarCraft gaming manipulation led participants to manage more information sources during game play, thus leading to enhancements in cognitive flexibility.”
In other words, the people who played Starcraft boasted better cognitive flexibility since the game requires constant thinking and player input.
So while slower games may not offer the same benefit, it’s cool to know that our favorite fast-paced games are helping us become better learners while entertaining us. (Source & Source)