Video games are considered to be forbidden fruit by most parents. Something that was clearly created by devil. Very few of them really encourage this widely spread hobby. There is no parent being of sound mind and memory that will put playing games in front of doing homework.
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Anyway, a recent study seems to have found an interrelation between some video games and IQ level. Those who were good at strategy games also showed good results in common intelligence tests on paper.
The other studies point out that video games improve the spatial intelligence. According to Howard Gardner, a neuroscientist from Harvard, people who spend much time playing video games have better ability to do spatial reasoning, image manipulation, and mental imagery. The studies of another scientist, Dr. Daphne Bavelier from Switzerland, proved that video gamers can better differentiate between colors (grey particularly) which really helps when driving in fog. The same study tested the ability of the video game players to resolve conflicts. The participants were shown a chart with color words which color was different from the meaning of the word. For instance, the word red was colored yellow. The results were quite impressive. The game players turned out to be faster in resolving such conflicts than most people.
An interesting experiment was held by the researchers from the University of California. The experiment involved 69 participants. A third of them played Super Mario 3D World during two weeks, another third played Angry Birds, and the rest of them did nothing. The group that played Mario had the best results in the follow-up memory tasks, while the others didn’t show better results.
The scientists have also found out that you should play 3D games (not 2D) if you aim to boost your intelligence. Those gamers who play 3D-games have better hippocampal-related memory (hippocampus is a part of limbic system helping to transfer the information from the short-term memory into long-term memory). The right hippocampus was enlarged in both long-term gamers and volunteers following a video game training program.
An amazing discovery was made by scientists in 2010 – games can reduce anxiety or pain. Since the gamer is focused on the game which engages different senses, he/she is distracted from pain as well. So, think twice next time you reach out for a pain killer.
Different Sides of the Same Coin
Like any other phenomenon, games have two sides. In spite of the recent discoveries that they improve coordination and problem-solving skills, enhance memory and brain speed, we can’t but put a fly in the ointment. Games are addictive, and there is even a disease called “Internet gaming disorder.” According to the scientists, video games cause changes in the neural reward system, which are very much similar to changes seen in other disorders connected with addictions.
Computer games can be beneficial, but we all should remember that too much of a good thing is good for nothing. Age is a factor, and the game should be carefully chosen – not just the first one in the most popular games list. Younger children shouldn’t be allowed to play shooters and the amount of time spent playing is also important.