Gamer Girl Rant – When Gaming Is Good For You

A friend of mine passed along the link to a Wall Street Journal article about a study done on gaming.  After reading the results, I had to share.

The article cites several studies with the overall consensus being that gaming changes a person’s brain.  Luckily for us, that change is for the better (mostly)!

Guess I'll have to stop saying this.

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 who played action-based video and computer games made decisions 25% faster than others without sacrificing accuracy, according to a study. Indeed, the most adept gamers can make choices and act on them up to six times a second—four times faster than most people, other researchers found. Moreover, practiced game players can pay attention to more than six things at once without getting confused, compared with the four that someone can normally keep in mind, said University of Rochester researchers. The studies were conducted independently of the companies that sell video and computer games.

Here’s where it got interesting for me:

The violent action games that often worry parents most had the strongest beneficial effect on the brain. “These are not the games you would think are mind-enhancing,” said cognitive neuroscientist Daphne Bavelier, who studies the effect of action games at Switzerland’s University of Geneva and the University of Rochester in New York.

When I read this to Slasher443, we had a discussion about why this might be the case and we both agreed that it’s all about the risk.

The higher the risk in a game, the more likely you are to improve your skills, make faster decisions and play more analytically.  Risk forces you to realize that there is a consequence to poor performance.

In many games, risk can be in the form of durability loss, lost gear, inability to down a boss, being ejected from a team or guild, exorbitant prices for repairs or rebuilds, time lost running back to your corpse, loss of position, loss of resources and so on.

Your brain is aware of these risks as you play, and with that in mind, you alter your strategies to obtain the best outcome.  When you know that you have something to lose, every action is more meaningful and it seems that this risk is highest in the games with more violence in them.  This may be why researchers are seeing this trend so frequently.  All I know is, it’s a great excuse to give when you want to play these titles.

We are spending more and more time playing games as a society.  Research like this serves to dispel some of the stereotypes about games but at the same time, I have to say that as much as I LOVE gaming, there still needs to be some moderation.

Just because we have science to back us up on playing, it doesn’t mean that we need to live in front of the computer, television, mobile phone or handheld system.

Other studies have found an association between compulsive gaming and being overweight, introverted and prone to depression.

What do you think about the results of these studies?  Validation or resignation?  You can find the original Wall Street Journal article here.

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