Video games are a multibillion dollar industry with a massive saturation of the general public. The average gamer has advanced in age and education since the days of the Sega-Nintendo wars and now we have a new generation of adults raised in an environment where video games where ever present.
The effect video games may have on these people has often been discussed and at times has led to the dichotomy of believing in video games as sociopath or psychopath training simulators, slowly detaching the gamer from the real world and dulling his ability to function. In extreme cases violent video games have been linked directly to actual violent and psychopathic behavior.
Are video games beneficial in any way?
While arguments against the nature of video games and learning are still present, a new school of thought has emerged, one detailing the benefits of gaming. According to several studies including those of the University of Rochester, video games can be linked to an increase in creativity, decision making and multi tasking. This ground breaking conclusion was the result of several studies undertaken at various international institutions to measure the effect of video gaming on the individual in comparison to others of the same age and background.
The findings were that regardless of the nature of the game, be it sports or violence, games promote creativity and free thinking in a way which clearly boosts the ability of gamers to think outside the box.
In addition, gamers on average can come to a decision faster and act on it quicker than non- gamers. Gamers who partake in action games are being able to make a decision and act on it from twenty five up to fifty percent faster than other individuals of a similar age and status. On top of this, gamers are often able to track up to six objects at once and monitor them successfully whilst others can’t track more than four at a time without struggling.
Video games may develop better spatial awareness
This means that gaming has been linked to the development of better spatial awareness, spatial memory and creative reasoning. Gaming can also help improve other skills too; such as eye sight, hearing, reaction time and even learning languages or numerical theory. In fact, in one study female gamers who make up 42% of the video gaming public, are better able to manipulate a 3D object than their counterparts. An interesting result considering men where typically held to be better at manipulation of objects than women.
There’s a downside to these studies to though. Prolonged and compulsive gaming has been linked to overweight and unhealthy individuals, with countries such as Korea with large gaming populations already instigated fitness programs for former gaming addicts. The compulsive nature of gaming locks the brain into a reward cycle more efficient than in real life and with greater stimulation of the dopamine receptors. As a result it is easy for the compulsive gamer, who is chemically similar to a compulsive gambler to become distracted from his body and situation. This can have extreme consequences if the addictive behavior goes long enough unchecked.
In spite of the benefits, there are drawbacks
In addition, another negative impact is in the long term immersion of violent games; which depress the area of the brain typically dealing with emotional stability and empathy. This leads to less control of emotional state and even increases undesirable emotions, though this is not just violent behavior but disinterested and apathetic, depressive or manic as well. Long term gamers can become anxious and suffer from social development issues if left unchecked or their gaming habit is allowed to become too extreme.
That being said, gaming is a large part of our current culture and one that is set to stay for a while; yet the knowledge that it can have positive as well as negative effects upon us is interesting to say the least and opens up the door for further research into the great experiment which is mainstream gaming.
Author Bio: Jason Phillips is a video gaming blogger a lifelong gamer who loves to play latest and craziest games. He also owns a site Army Games 365 where you can play lots of army games and feel the warmth of war.