Playing Videogames DOES make you smarter! (New scientific evidence)

Matt Barton's picture

Well, this is certainly nothing new for those of us who spend a lot of time indulging in our favorite hobby, but some cognitive scientists at the University of Rochester have finally confirmed it: "playing action video games trains people to make the right decisions faster." Here are some of the skills you'll pick up playing videogames:

  • Multitasking
  • Driving
  • Reading small print
  • Tracking friends in a crowd
  • Navigating around town

Okay, I suck at navigating around town, so maybe I'm not playing the right games! However, another interesting finding was that the groups who played action games instead of strategy games were just as accurate (and faster to boot) at answering questions correctly. Action!

Comments

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Indeed, this is something

Indeed, this is something that we've argued for ages on Armchair Arcade and elsewhere. I know my reaction time - and not just the raw physical aspect of it - is generally superior to that of an individual who does not play videogames regularly or even use a computer regularly. It helps that we grew up with this stuff as well. It's one of the advantages I have in the workplace.

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Keith Burgun
Keith Burgun's picture
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Joined: 09/06/2010
Obvious research is obvious!

The only reason that this argument even comes up is because people have an illogical line they draw between video games and other types of games. Everyone knows that games exercise the mind; indeed, it's a common trope in fiction to have your "intelligent character" playing Chess. Video games are absolutely no different by nature.

Rowdy Rob
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Joined: 09/04/2006
Bill and Keith... some thoughts of mine.
Bill Loguidice wrote:

Indeed, this is something that we've argued for ages on Armchair Arcade and elsewhere. I know my reaction time - and not just the raw physical aspect of it - is generally superior to that of an individual who does not play videogames regularly or even use a computer regularly. It helps that we grew up with this stuff as well. It's one of the advantages I have in the workplace.

I don't know if "we" here at AA are necessarily the baseline norm for videogamers as far as "smartness" goes. Most of AA posters (I'd argue ALL), and certainly the main AA staff, were "smart" to begin with. And I've known many gamers that may or may not fit the profile of a "smart gamer." And since we are (generally) older gamers, and we were geeks, we were attracted to computers and tech well before the general populace caught up.

I STILL believe that videogames, even among the otherwise computer-illiterate, are generally the best way to draw people into comforability with computer literacy. And, it also makes sense that a repeated activity that draws on mental skills, such as videogaming, will activate certain neural pathways pertaining to those skills, which would have real-life consequences. It also makes sense that such "skills" promoted by certain videogames might not have positive psychological consequences in some cases for certain people, although that's a whole other ball of wax.

Keith Burgun wrote:

The only reason that this argument even comes up is because people have an illogical line they draw between video games and other types of games. Everyone knows that games exercise the mind; indeed, it's a common trope in fiction to have your "intelligent character" playing Chess. Video games are absolutely no different by nature.

I agree that the line between "videogames" and "normal games" is strange and illogical, and this is a subject that has come up before. Why is it "childish" to play a videogame, but it's perfectly acceptable for adults to get together for a card game, or to hang out at the bowling alley? And why is it commonly acceptable to hang out at a bar to WATCH a sports game, but to actually PLAY a game on your videogame device is considered childish by some?

That having been said, not all games are considered equal. Someone like Matt Barton, who has stated his preference of strategy/role-playing/puzzle style games, might be better drawn to real-life problem solving than someone like myself, who has been more traditionally drawn to action-oriented games. I might be able to avoid a car accident (or dodge a punch) better than Mr. Barton, but he might be more likely to solve "Unified Field Theory" or other intellectual mysteries.

Still, I wonder if someone who likes to play "Kaboom" or "Pac Man" is really that much smarter than a non-gamer. :-)

Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Smart people vs not so smart people

Smart kids will be able to benefit extra from playing videogames, it can actually augment their learning. But there's also indications in some studies - which I am not able to quote right now - that kids with a lower intelligence don't augment their learning with playing videogames like the smarter kids do but instead replace certain aspects of their learning with playing games. This could cause them to be less successful in their academic achievements. But it is not so black and white as that as there are many factors/confounders at work here, especially because the range of games is so big as well (pong, pacman, dodonpachi, stratego, halo, quake, World of Warcraft)

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