How Video Games Are Actually Beneficial

Nina Russell, Staff Writer

Video games, excluding the commonly played Madden and Call of Duty games, are widely regarded as a pastime for lazy couch-potatoes or nerds who live in their parents’ basements until they’re 35. Gamers are oftentimes picked last for athletic team exercises or are looked down upon by those who are more physically fit than them or those who go out with friends on the weekends. But a time for revolution is upon us. New information has surfaced that will raise gamers to a new status, a long-awaited status, showing that gamers are not only great video game players, but greater at cognitive tasks than the average person. The gamer revolution has begun.

Video games have lots of pros. They help people pass the time and keep them from being bored. They give people something extra to talk about or be excited for. In my case, gaming brought me closer to good people and helped me meet my best friends. Researchers have recently discovered that playing video games raises decision-making and cognitive-thinking abilities. Playing video games causes increases in the area of the brain responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation and strategic planning. This was discovered in a study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. Video gaming is proven to help children who have certain illnesses to feel temporarily at ease, or even recover. Playing video games introduces children to the world of technology, improves their reaction timing, and even beating a tough video game can raise their self-confidence.

Researchers at the US National Library of MedicineNational Institutes of Health tested two groups of people, experienced gamers and inexperienced gamers, on a variety of cognitive tasks. Compared to non-gamers of the same age, the experienced gamers could:

  • track objects moving at faster speeds
  • track more objects at once
  • filter out irrelevant visual information
  • switch more quickly from one task to the next
  • better detect changes in briefly-flashing visual arrays
  • more accurately predict how three dimensional objects would appear when rotated

To date, these skills don’t raise IQs or scholastic performance rates, but new research headed by Sandro Franceschini and Andrea Facoetti proved that playing video games can improve the focus and reading ability of dyslexic children.

Playing video games at a young age has some cons as well. Instead of getting fresh air or exercise, children can get addicted to video games and become sedentary. Also, being exposed to violent video games for extended periods at a time can dull childrens’ minds to violence and make them more susceptible to become violent. Video games don’t spontaneously transform fun-loving children into serial killers, despite what you may have previously heard on the subject.

What we should all take from these studies: Video games are beneficial to a person’s overall cognitive function, but prolonged exposure could lead to a sedentary or possibly violent lifestyle. Who knows? Perhaps an hour or two of video game playing per day could make you better at your favorite sport. If not, at least you had fun playing it.