In the war against people whose job it is to decry videogames and any beneficial side effects their usage may cause, it’s rare to see a study proclaim their worth. Sure, you’ll find the occasional research article claiming minor improvements in memory or reflexes, but rarely something that challenges the narrative that gaming is the self-destructive hobby most like to paint it as.
According to a comprehensive study published this April, action games can improve cognitive development and expand neural networks. Yes, action games.
- Behavioural research has shown that experienced AVG players have better attentional and sensorimotor functions than amateurs. For example, compared to amateurs, AVG experts exhibited improved selective attention on tasks of flanker compatibility, enumeration, useful field of view, and attentional blink; furthermore, AVG training improved participants’ performance on the above tasks, thereby demonstrating the attentional effects of AVG playing2. Furthermore, AVG playing enhanced the spatial distribution of attention and attentional capture3, 4, cognitive control5, and emotional regulation6. In addition, research on sensorimotor functions indicated that compared to amateurs, AVG experts had improved spatial resolution of vision7, multisensory temporal processing abilities8, hand-eye motor coordination9, contrast sensitivity10, oculomotor performance11, and body movement12.
What this means, in layman’s terms, is that heavy action-game players enjoy a better reaction speed and can adapt to situations better than those who, say, do not play any such “action video games” (AVG).
Though not anything we didn’t already know (excelling at bullet hell games probably qualify you to run drones for the Army), it does reinforce the commonly held belief by gamers that games sharpen the mind and have beneficial effects on brain development.