benefits of video games
To start, recent studies completed by several noted research and scientific organizations have proven that playing video games could help improve the quality of life for the disabled and mentally ill.
The main study, conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus in Berlin, Germany, found that playing video increases grey matter (basically, the size of your brain) and helps refine learned and hardwired skills.
In layman’s terms, playing video games directly affects and impacts regions of the brain responsible for memory, spatial orientation, information organizations, and fine motor skills.
The study also reinforces the claim that, like exercise, playing games for as little as 30 minutes a day, can improve your life.
To determine how video games affect the brain, scientists selected two groups of adults.
The first group would play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day, for two months.
The second group did not play any video games at all. Scientists used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the size of the brain of the groups before the start of the study, then again after the two-month period.
The results confirmed previous findings—that there were differences in the brain structure of video gamers, and that by playing video games, there was a “direct link between video gaming and a volumetric brain increase.”
Simone Kühn, the senior scientist at the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, led the study. She claims, “While previous studies have shown differences in brain structure of video gamers, the present study proves that specific brain regions can be trained by means of video games.”
By the same token, scientists believe those with mental disabilities (or whose brains had been reduced in size by an accident or medical condition) or others affected by brain disease like Alzheimer’s, could benefit from playing video games as well.
With their subjects, scientists saw increases in three major areas of the brain: the prefrontal cortex, the right hippocampus, and the cerebellum.
So if an action game like Super Mario 64 signals positive benefits for players, games built specifically to train, test, and challenge the brain must be beneficial too, right?
Well, since their introduction in the early 2000’s, logic games or brain games have had a love/hate relationship with the scientific community, mainly because of the claims video game publishers have made about these titles.
For instance, such claims tout that, for just a few minutes a day, you can train your brain using video games—and in some cases, that these games will make you smarter.