Flashback to your childhood, the memories of getting yelled at that too much video games will rot your brain, but research is finding that video games can actually increase your brain’s gray matter. (Gray matter is associated with a person’s perception, navigation, muscle control and even memory.) From the more obvious strategy and brain games to the more action packed first person shooters.
People of all ages still love a good video game. Video games of all kinds can be good for your brain and have many cognitive, social and even physical benefits. As technology advances and developers keep producing new content, there seems to be a new game to try every week. Luckily for us, there are many benefits to playing video games that will encourage you to keep on playing in your free time — as if we ever need a good reason to take a break.
The Great Debate: Is Video Gaming More Beneficial or Harmful to the Brain?
So is video gaming actually harmful to our brains? Studies show it completely depends on the content of the game and the person playing them. More violent type games have been found to be associated with aggressive behavior and even increased hostility, but that might actually have more to do with the person playing the game itself.
Some experts mention that time spent playing games is time not spent doing other activities such as going outside, reading, or socializing with others. But that’s not to say all video games are bad. The positives might ultimately outweigh the bad.
Video games can also be a great learning activity and even used as a teaching tool. Video game play is associated with improvements in memory, hand-eye coordination, quicker reaction time, improved visual skill and peripheral awareness. While some more educational brain games can also improve reading, spelling and math skills.
5 Reasons Why Playing Video Games is Good for Your Brain
Vision and Perception
Video games that are high action or fast moving can improve your ability to distinguish patterns, shapes and different shades of colors. When put in a new environment with a lot of stimuli, your brain creates a perceptual template that helps you figure out what is important and how to respond to any given situation.
Certain high speed games have been found to retrain the brain to process visual information quicker and better. When people play video games they are actually training their brains to adapt, literally changing the brain’s pathways responsible for processing your sight and perception.
Exploring the virtual world of video games is much like navigating the real world. Actually, exploring around video game worlds can have a similar positive impact on memory as in your everyday life. As we get older, our memory naturally takes a hit. Playing video games regularly may just be the best way to keep your mind at full throttle even as you progress in age.
The hippocampus is an important part in the brain that works to help you take on multiple tasks at one time. It aids you as you navigate any space, especially a virtual space. This is also the part of the brain that controls spatial memory, and is responsible for converting short-term memory to long-term memory. When you keep your brain in shape, a person can remember things more easily and be better at navigating physical space.
Life can have its share of problems. Strategic and role-playing video games also challenge players to solve problems. This virtual problem-solving serves as great practice for real-life. Obstacles and puzzles in video games or even fast navigating games are really learn-as-you-play games, meaning players must experiment with repeating levels and going through trial and error..
Video games are a great way to take a break, they can help relax you and let you unwind from your busy day. The APA (American Psychological Association) says that playing short and simple games during the day can actually make you feel happier.
So obviously video game favorites like Dance Dance Revolution and other interactive fitness programs require the player to get up and move about. These types of video games are naturally good for your health and can be a great way to burn calories and gain muscle control.
However, when we play any game, our bodies seem to work at a harder level. Our limbs and torso get action, and our fingers stretch and bend as we attempt to beat the level.
One of the best benefits of these exercise-inducing video games may be that they can evolve a person’s thinking on how to stay active. Games, like mobile games, can make walking and exercising fun and provide an easy way to gain muscle control, to get and stay healthy while they game.
What Types of Video Games Improve Brain Function?
Learning/ Problem Solving Games
Brain games help the brain! From Sudoku to trivia. Crossword puzzles to word play games. Maybe even a game geared towards learning a new language. Video games that are educational are an efficient and fun way to learn. Even fast moving strategy games like Snake can build a player’s cognitive functions and thought processing.
Action Video Games
Action video games and first person shooters, like Fortnite and Call of Duty, have been linked to the improvement of attention spans, brain processing, and cognitive functions. More modern multiplayer video games and simulators have real life environments and can actually improve on a person’s social skills as well.
Choose your own adventure, Story mode games can teach a person certain life skills, they can use everyday IRL. Games like Animal Crossing connect players on a virtual level which can improve on social skills. RPG (role-playing games) and video games like World of Warcraft teach the player how to excel at team building skills and feel empowered in leadership roles. They promote the same social skills and communication, while the player’s brain is immersed into another world much like our own, but without the cool dragons.
The best simulation video games teach you a skill and improve on your focus and memory. In some recent cases, the use of video game technology was used successfully in the training of an array of different jobs and tasks. WIth the virtual landscape ahead, simulators and virtual reality could open our brains up to knowledge we thought wasn’t even possible, and bring gaming to the next level.