There is a lot of prejudice against people who play videogames, particularly when it concerns action games and first-person shooters. For example, people say they are lazy or aggressive. However, it turns out playing videogames has got a lot of benefits as well – even the much debated first-person shooters.
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Playing videogames might help to slow brain aging
Playing videogames keeps a brain very active. Like the way you strengthen muscles, using your brain is important in keeping it strong. By exercising cognitive functions such as problem-solving, memory and decision making playing videogames helps keeping your cognitive functions fresh for years. It’s not clear if it depends on a specific type of videogames, but research has shown that playing games for a couple of hours can improve cognitive function in young participants, as well as those over 65. (Zelinski & Reyes, 2014)
Playing videogames helps find inhabitable planets
In 2012, around 40 planets that could possibly support life were discovered in an astronomy game called “Planet Hunters”. These planets had previously been missed by astronomers. This in an example of gaming helping other people using their searching, perception and analytical skills. (source)
Playing videogames helps solve diseases
A few years ago scientists produced a game to let people help them in cracking a DNA sequence. It was called Foldit, and the DNA sequence it tried to solve was that of an AIDS-like virus found in Rhesus monkeys. If scientists can figure out how this incredibly complex virus is folded, or built up, it’s possible to find a key (medicine), to combat it. These procedures are sometimes referred to as “designing a key for one of Mother Nature’s lock”. (source1)
There is an extremely large amount of ways the bonds between the virus’ molecules can twist. This makes for a complex lock. In the game players could design varieties of twists and turns, earning higher scores for more efficient and lower energy cost solutions. Scientists called the game their last ditch effort after struggling to crack the code for up to 13 years. With the help of some of the world’s most enthusiastic gamers, the code was cracked between 10 and 20 days. (source1) (source2)
Gamers are really good at…
…spotting patterns in an apparently random collection of data. Are you good at Candy Crush? It is based on finding patterns that line up, or aligning objects so they form a pattern. What purpose can this skill serve in real life? Scanning and pattern recognition can prove very important in sequencing data and creating apps. It can help in your ability to spot things you need in a supermarket or any other store, or finding someone you know in a crowd. Also, as pictured above, in reading DNA sequences. This can help in finding solutions for cancer, or even Alzheimer’s disease. With the average DNA sequence looking like the green and black above, you know it’s good if you’re proficient at pattern spotting.
“People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at.” – Seth Cooper (Computer Scientist)
They get better at strategics…
…which can help protect the environment. Through playing all sorts of games, gamers develop an increased sense for strategies. This is a skill that is so widely applicable it can be useful in ANY environment. From devising the best way to lay out your fridge, how to tackle a group assignment at school, to helping the environment. New Zealand environmental scientists had used a game called Ora. Players could “set traps, create sanctuaries or fly aerial operations […] to save [their] pixelated forest.”
Later they used these tactics to maintain an actual section of forest. (source) “The more adolescents reported playing strategic video games such as role-playing games, the more they improved in problem solving and school grades the following year, according to a long-term study published in 2013.” (source quote) It should be noted however, that there is of course, a difference between a healthy amount of playing and a computer game addiction.
Playing videogames can create more accurate hand-eye coordination – and create better surgeons
In a study by Rosser Jr et al. researchers tested surgeons on the accuracy of incisions during a laparoscopy – an internal inspection of the abdomen mainly through remotely operated tools, but also hand-driven ones. Surgeons who played select videogames for a couple of hours each week made more accurate cuts (up to 37%) and were quicker too. One of the games used was Super Monkey Ball. It probably helps with accuracy because the mechanism of the game requires fine finger control and hand-eye coordination. Games like Super Monkey Ball help to practise these skills, allowing the surgeons to improve that skill in a low stakes environment. In this way, they are extra prepared for the high stakes environment of the ER. (source)
People playing videogames are better at mental object manipulation
“A 2013 meta-analysis found that playing shooter video games improved a player’s capacity to think about objects in three dimensions.” (source quote) For example, this would mean, that they would perform better, on average, at mental acuity tests such as the one in the image above.
If you want to try this out, try our “How high is your spatial intelligence? QUIZ”. Object manipulation is a key feature of spatial intelligence.
Gamers become quicker at making decisions – without losing accuracy.
Playing videogames can help develop a heightened sensitivity of your surroundings. This is also the case for much debated action games such a Call of Duty and Unreal Tournament. The quicker decision making doesn’t just help with gaming, but can have influence on everyday activities. It can make you better at “everyday activities like multitasking, driving, reading small print, keeping track of friends in a crowd and navigating around” your town or city.” (source)
Have you experienced any other benefits of playing videogames? Let us know in the comments. Help us beat the stigma and prejudice by SHARING this article.