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Benefits of Playing Video Games

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Benefits of Playing Video Games

Michelle Lee, Staff Writer

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the neighborhood children were running and laughing. It was the perfect day to go outside and enjoy the weather. All this was lost as the curtains were pulled close, the lights were turned off, and the room was plunged into darkness, with the exception of a faint blue light glowing from a computer screen. The singing of birds turned into the clicking of buttons, and the air was filled with tension. Suddenly, a bright white light flooded the darkness and a figure appeared, the mother, her rage palpable in the air.

“Will you stop playing video games?” she spit, eyebrows furrowed and lips pinched. “Stop wasting time and do something that’s actually productive.”

Video games have always gotten a bad reputation. They either are a complete waste of time, diverting attention away from seemingly more important things, or they teach players to mindlessly shoot and kill. They are a parent’s worst enemy and an adolescent’s best friend. Despite the negative connotations that surround them, there can actually many benefits to playing video games, especially when it comes to cognitive skills.

Video games can actually train many basic mental processes such as perception, attention, memory, and decision-making, all of which are the building blocks of intelligence. For many action games, players are required to process large of information at high speeds, move rapidly, and make split-second decisions. In recent experiments published by the American Journal of Play, “typical finding[s] [are] that those who play the video game improve on measures of basic perceptual and cognitive abilities” while those who did not play games showed no signs of improvement.

Most prominently, adults who played video games displayed improvements in executive skills including perception, attention, and memory that allow for effective problem-solving and decision-making. Experiments indicate that after 50 hours of action gaming, gamers showed significant improvements in the ability to multitask and keep track of many information points simultaneously. Additionally, gamers displayed increased mental flexibility, working memory, and abstract reasoning- brain functions that all tend to decline with age.

Furthermore, videos games have been shown to improve career-related skills across various vocations. Many studies indicate playing video games drastically improves job-performance, especially in jobs that require hand-eye coordination and quick decision-making. For example, a 2009 experiment revealed that young, inexperienced surgeons who had experience playing video games often outperformed older, experienced surgeons in their respective fields.

Although video games can have detrimental effects when played excessively, in moderation, videos can actually be very beneficial in training cognitive processes and maintaining and improving critical skills. So the next time someone says video games are just a waste of time, tell them to think again and maybe they might just pick up a game themselves.

Image courtesy of TECHANIMATE.COM

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