Video games have always been a topic of debate for many decades. It is often cited for the root cause of anti-social behaviour on one extreme to violence on the other. But regardless of which end you stand, every cloud has a silver lining.
In a surprising study conducted by Dr Nick Taylor, thousands of gamers were looked at and they were found to be more sociable than non-gamers in that they could multitask several social interactions at once. The researcher was quoted as saying: “Gamers were often exhibiting many social behaviours at once: watching games, drinking and chatting online.” (Bless you TeamSpeak)
PROBLEM SOLVING & SPATIAL AWARENESS
A long term study in the Netherlands found that the more time spent on role-playing and strategy games by teens and young people, the more they improved their problem solving abilities and academic grades.
The same study from the Netherlands found first person shooter games to enhance players’ abilities to think about concepts in 3D.
Games that are fast paced have found to help gamers make quicker decisions in real life.
A US study placed participants between the ages of 18 and 25 into two groups. One group played 50 hours of The Sims 2, the other group played 50 hours of Unreal Tournament and Call Of Duty 2. The Call Of Duty group made decisions 25 per cent faster in a task and were accurate more often.
In 2012, researchers in New Zealand created a way to treat depressed teenagers with SPARX, a video game designed to give therapy to kids in a way that was more fun and active than traditional counselling. The acronym stands for “smart, positive, active, realistic and x-factor thoughts,” strategies that have been commonly used to battle depression.
The study involved 168 teens with an average age of 15 that had previously sought help or struggled with depression. Half of the group was randomly assigned to traditional treatment which was usually one-on-one counseling over five sessions. The other half played SPARX, a fantasy game where the subjects created avatars in order to squash “gloomy negative automatic thoughts,” and restore order in the virtual world. Each level taught players basic facts about depression, strategies for dealing with intense negative emotions and relaxation techniques.
The results? About 44 percent of SPARX players recovered completely from depression while only 26 percent of the control group were no longer depressed.
MAKING YOU SMARTER
A study, conducted at Queen Mary University of London and University College London, is based on psychological tests conducted before and after 72 volunteers played “Starcraft” or “The Sims” for 40 hours over six to eight weeks. They found that participants who were assigned to play “Starcraft” experienced gains in their performance on psychological tests, completing cognitive flexibility tasks with greater speed and accuracy.
SLOWING DOWN THE AGING PROCESS
Playing brain-teasing games for just two hours a week may help slow the degree of mental decay associated with the natural aging process, according to a study from the University of Iowa.
The study of 681 healthy individuals ages 50 and older revealed that playing 10 hours of a specially designed video game was able to stall & slow down the natural decline of different cognitive skills by up to even seven years, in some cases.
There are many benefits to video games and there will always be a situation for its application. But like all hobbies, it is best to do it in moderation.