How Video Games Are Used In Studying

How Video Games Are Used In Studying

We’ve said it before and we’re going to say it again, video games help your brain! So excuse me while I go play whichever first person shooter won’t get me made fun of in the comments. 20 years ago, THE MAN blamed video games for violent behavior and legislation was debated banning violent games from sale; but today, a new study in Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, claims video game players are getting more than the privilege of listening to Peter Dinklage’s sultry tones. Action games do seem to provide some kind of brain benefit. A study earlier in 2015 by the Max-Planck Institute of Oncasinogames Canada scanned players of three-dimensional games and found increased brain development in the prefrontal cortex, right hippocampus and cerebellum; areas involved with complex cognitive tasks, navigation, fine motor control, and spatial memory!

And, a study from the University of Geneva found individuals who play “action video games” were markedly better at switching their attention from one part of the screen to another while remaining vigilant to the environment as a whole; meaning they’re processing visual information more quickly than non-gamers. Players know that during modern gaming, they’re required to follow video and audio streams, as well as haptics (or vibration and touch-based feedback). Sometimes two or three different streams might hit your senses at the same time. For example, if you’re chatting with other players while reading or listening to the game itself. Plus, especially in action games, players are required to navigate three-dimensional complicated arenas, solve puzzles, and often interact with both real and pre-programmed players. This trains our brains to suck in lots of information and process it quickly… which makes our brains “Better” sort of. Depends how you look at it. Whether these skills translate off the grid and into meatspace is a whole other thing, and it would seem, on some level, they do. The brain isn’t trained by repetition in the same way muscles are toned, but in combination it can be useful. The military uses video game-style simulations all the time for training, finding they can expose servicemembers to complicated or dangerous situations that wouldn’t be practical in real life. Then the warrior takes the skills learned and can use them as a baseline for real life training.

Video games are also used for flight students, potential astronauts, medical students and surgeons. We shouldn’t overlook going through the motions in a virtual world, paired with real-life practice. Games aren’t perfect though. They can negatively impact social skills, attention and a study in Psychological Science, found playing as a quote “villainous avatar” resulted in the participants punishing anonymous strangers in real life. This is more a correlation than causation thing. People pick the video games that interest them, and can often choose their own avatars then control that character’s behavior. The researchers in the “action game study” want to remind the world, it’s a matter of degrees. Video games aren’t just one thing, but LOTS of different things. A flight simulator, is not a first person shooter, is not a real-time strategy, is not a puzzle game, is not a brain training game; and they all affect cognitive behaviors. Video games require the brain to actively learn, almost a half-way between book-learning, and hands-on activity If you’re interested in learning more about the worst video games ever made.

 

Posted on: March 3, 2019Leonard Riley