Memory and Multitasking Development: Why Are Video Games Useful?05 December 2019
Not only do modern video games transfer us to new worlds, but they also help to evolve. Improvement of attention, concentration, and ability to work in a team: that’s not the half of bonuses for gamers. We have scientific evidence of this fact!
Gamers: who are they?
Despite the common misconception, not only children like relaxing with their favorite games, be it realistic shooters or colored balls on smartphones. It was concluded by experts from the Entertainment Software Association, conducting a major study of the video game audience.
They estimate that 65% of the adult citizens are fond of spending their time playing on various platforms (by the way, half of the players are women). At the same time, gaming is not ranked first, replacing real life: 56% of the players have other affairs as well, while 63% of the enthusiasts can find new friends and establish friendly relations using video games. Besides, more than 50% of the adult gamers have a college degree and hold good positions.
Video games also encourage communication between kids and adults in the family: parents frequently join their young gamers and play together. As to the younger generation, about two-thirds of US teenagers consider themselves gamers. It sounds terrible to your granny, but everything is okay.
Video games for the brain
Do not believe in myths, but listen to scientists: Australian and Chinese scientists have scanned gamers’ brains using MRI. Smart and impartial equipment has shown that some brain divisions of gamers are developed better than divisions of non-playing people. In particular, it is referred to sectors responsible for hand motion coordination and cognitive functions.
The research engaged volunteers taking a great interest in Dota 2 and League of Legends. Scanning has shown that gamers have a bigger amount of grey matter, which is in charge of sensory perception, memory, as well as emotion and speech recognition. Scientists believe that video game passion can enhance the ability to perceive information and coordinate movements.
Interactivity is the key feature of video games and their core difference from movies. People can take part in the process, adventure, and creation of the whole world and new history. It allows them to unlock the creative potential and obtain dopamine, a substance produced by our brain as a reward for successfully completed tasks and achieved goals.
It is dopamine that motivates individuals to study, overcome obstacles, and feel satisfied. The human brain does not make distinctions between virtual and realistic achievements: the defeat of the game opponent gives the same pleasure as the successful completion of the challenging project at work.
It helps to relax, feel better, motivate yourself to the intense activity and solution of actual tasks.
What else do video games provide us with, and what channels of senses do they develop?
Involvement. Gamers feel empathy for characters of the imaginary world, learn to understand the emotions of other people, and develop the imaginative insight.
Creativity. The ability to find an unconventional way out of the situation, new solutions, new moves, and optimize the character’s properties for various goals.
Teamwork skills. It is about games requiring interaction with other persons, and which outcome depends on the team game, its complexity and thoroughness.
Communication skills. The resource exchange with other players, fulfillment of agreements, ability to establish crucial contacts in many multiplayer games.
Surely, what matters here is not to fall into a trap of gaming addiction where video games are the only natural source of emotional reward.
Positive impact of video games on the body
Multitasking. Researchers from the University of Rochester have carried out the investigation revealing the increased capability to solve several tasks simultaneously among gamers. Shooter lovers always keep their brain with all guns blazing and can rapidly shift from one action to another. It improves their attention and concentration in real life.
Night vision training. A lot of games teach people to see in the dark: for instance, Call of Duty or Quake players are able to recognize numerous shades of gray and small details in twilight. It is caused by the gaming process where you should carefully monitor the gaming space as well as pay attention to the slightest changes and dancing shadows.
Reduction of pain senses. Members of the American Institute of Pain have found out that video games help patients with severe pains. People receiving serious treatment or suffering from skin burns can abstract themselves from senses of discomfort using consoles or PCs. The brain shifts to other objectives, individuals become engrossed in the gaming process, while the body feels 30-50% less pain.
Fight against PTSD. According to the study by Dr. Emily Holmes, even common Tetris allows relieving negative memories and decreasing the stress level because of past trauma. Professor performed one of the recent experiments along with scientists from Bochum University Hospital in 2018. They figured out that the regular Tetris therapy could reduce negative memories by 11%.
Work and study gamification
It is much easier and faster to explore information in the gaming form than to learn it boringly and monotonously. Becoming motivated and interested, people can acquire data without effort. This advantage is used by many foreign companies that have gamified their working processes.
Lego applied this concept 20 years ago: the company started holding meetings, examining the issues based on Lego constructions. Managers literally played with Lego elements symbolizing the company, customers, and interaction between them. Later on, Lego patented such a method as SP (Lego serious play).
Depending on the context and themes, games can heighten the interest in studying history, physics, tactical and strategic techniques, languages, etc. The most important thing is that people won’t have to force themselves, as information is adopted voluntarily.
In the Army service
In the 80s, the Israeli Air Force introduced Space Fortress as a training simulator for cadets. Students had to play it for one hour per day within 10 days. The game was aimed at destroying the enemy base, avoiding hostile shots and weapons.
As part of the experiment, Space Fortress involved one group of cadets, and the second one was trained using a conventional program without video games. The results were assessed by independent experts who did not know which group played Space Fortress. Cadets focusing on the shooter showed a better outcome than their fellow students: the difference in points was 30%.
In different years, US military officers applied Atari and DOOM games to develop soldiers’ skills and improve their response rate.
There is no substantial confirmation of myths about video game harmfulness: none of the scientists have proven yet that gamers suffer from over-the-top aggressiveness or lose social skills. Obviously, we are talking about reasonable enthusiasm that does not turn into pathological addiction.
When it comes to video game benefits, they are scientifically proven and grounded: brain examinations show that gamers have more grey matter as well as better cognitive capacity, reaction, and memory. Furthermore, video games can become an integral part of adult and kid training in different skills and activities in the future.