Why Online Gaming Is Good for You

October 25, 2017 in Games

Research is proving beyond doubt that hours of intense online gaming actually improve brain performance, increasing a persons’ effectiveness in multitasking, decision-making and creativity.

Universities around the world have been conducting large-scale studies that are exploding the myth that game players become slack-jawed automatons as they lose themselves in the online worlds created by the gaming industry. The research results include such wide-ranging findings as:

· Experienced game players are able to pay attention to more than six things at once without getting confused, as opposed to the four that people can normally keep in mind.

· A three-year study of 491 children in middle schools in Michigan in the United States showed that the more children played computer games the higher they scored on a standardised test of creativity, and this was regardless of race, gender, or the type of game played. This contrasted with the use of cellphones, the Internet, or computers for other purposes which showed no effect on creativity, clearly demonstrating that it is the specific properties of gaming that made the difference.

· Improved hand-eye coordination in surgeons.

· Vision changes that boost night driving ability.

· People who play action-based video and computer games can make decisions 25{ab16ec7afeaa505fc47d986dd740e2186709582bf60946ab547a053febe1ecd5} faster than others without sacrificing accuracy.

· Very experienced and capable game players can make choices and act on them up to six times a second, which is four times faster than most people.

So How Does Online Gaming Do this?

So what is it about online gaming that makes them such good exercise for the brain? Why do they improve creativity, decision-making and perception?

The answer lies in the stress-reward process that the brain undergoes while the players concentrate for long periods and enjoy the excitement engendered by the action taking place in the game. The result is rewarding surges of neurotransmitters, like dopamine, that strengthens neural circuits within the brain in much the same the way that exercise builds muscles in the body. Extended gameplay acts like a prolonged session in the gym for the brain, resulting in the physiological development of tissues that remain available for use in everyday life.

Puzzles vs Action

Interestingly, it doesn’t seem matter which type of game is being played for the benefits to be seen. At the outset of many of the studies it was thought that the more violent games would have different effects to strategy based games or those with less aggressive themes, as different emotions and responses were thought to be involved, but this turned out not to be the case. All online and video games have the same benefits, the key is that the more exciting they are, and the more the player becomes absorbed in the game, the more strongly those benefits accrue. Someone can get just as much developmental benefit from playing Angry Birds or a free online jigsaw puzzles game, where they are racing an opponent to complete the jigsaw puzzle, provided they are fully engaged and get the rush of success and satisfaction on completion. This should help allay the fears of parents who worry about what harm they feel is being done when they see their teenage children playing violent action games for long periods. All of these positive developments are still taking place, regardless of the theme, and in fact the more exciting the game, the better.

The validity of the majority of this research is also above reproach. These results come mainly from university studies which were not funded by the games industry, and included adults as well as children. This gives the findings the kind of academic credibility that allows real progress to be made in the longer term analysis of the positive effects of online gaming. The maturity of the industry means we are now able to study the behavioral and cognitive development of individuals who have been playing through several stages of their lives from childhood to middle age, and it will be very interesting to see those results.