There was a time, long ago, when I made this statement on another website I wrote for. It was met with much criticism and nose-upturning, and was considered to be baseless ranting. Well, according to an actual research study done on the subject this month, it seems I was right all along.
Cutting through much of the medical jargon, what the study revealed is that gaming improved the areas of the brain that were responsible for executive functions, working memory and planning. As you could imagine, this is something that can be very beneficial to someone both in school and the business world.
If the Starcraft image up above has you wondering why it’s there, it’s due to the fact that this study came to the conclusion that strategy games, such as Starcraft, seemed to have the biggest positive effect on the subject’s brain power. The constant changing of strategies that one does in RPGs and strategy games was shown to improve the “cognitive flexibility” of the gamer. In other words, they became better multi-taskers as well as being better at switching between different concepts. Once again, something invaluable in the adult world that many parents hope their children would learn.
I speak mainly for myself here, but growing up as an 8 year old with a Commodore 64 and a D&D addiction, I found that my countless hours spent playing Wizardry, Ultima Exodus and later, Final Fantasy, resulted in me being significantly better at reading comprehension and planning than other kids in my school. I chalk this up to my excessive gaming, even though I am frequently lambasted for saying so.
It’s not just helping kids build better brains, since another study also found that older people benefited as well.
This reminds me of one of my favorite professional gamers, the once popular (but now somewhat forgotten) Old Grandma Hardcore, who you see in the above video. Not only would she tear through games like Resident Evil 4 and Skryim in record time, but she’d unlock all the achievements and had become a bit of a celebrity on Xbox Live back during its infancy. A huge part of her desire to game came from it keeping her mind active, and she found that it staved off a lot of the ill effects of aging that her same-aged friends had succumbed to.
We hear so much about gaming being bad for you, and while anything can be over-indulged in, it’s a proven fact that gaming (especially with strategy and RPG games) can have profound and long-lasting positive effects on the brain and its growth.