The popularity of video games has skyrocketed in the last twenty years. Because of this, psychologists are taking a closer look at the effects video games can have on your mental health. The question of whether video games can cause violence in children has been asked for many years. And for the most part, no one has found an answer yet.
However, the question of whether video games can make you smarter isn’t asked very often. But, studies seem to show that video games can, in fact, make you smarter in certain ways. Though not all video games can have this effect on you, ones that involve quick reactions, quick thinking and focus can.
If you’re curious which video games have this effect and how read on.
Real-time strategy (RTS) games can improve your information retention and cognitive flexibility
A recent study found that players of the real-time strategy (RTS) game StarCraft are able to retain information better than others. The study also found they have significantly improved cognitive flexibility.
After all, in real-time strategy games like StarCraft, you’re expected to think on your feet and make decisions on the fly. These are valuable skills for anyone to have in the real world. Real-time strategy (RTS) games can improve your information retention, cognitive flexibility and prioritizing skills.
The most famous real-time strategy (RTS) games are StarCraft, Age of Empires and Warcraft.
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Role-playing games (RPGs) can improve your reasoning and problem-solving
Role-playing games (RPGs) often involve player-driven choices and decision-making that can impact the story. The Mass Effect series, for example, is famous for its unique dialogue mechanic. This mechanic has you choose exactly what to say to other characters.
What you say (and do) can drastically affect the course of the story. However, what effect your choice will have isn’t immediately obvious. As a result, you will have to exercise your reasoning and logic whenever faced with a choice.
Making difficult choices is an important part of life. A video game like Mass Effect can exercise your ability to predict the consequences of your actions. And not only that, but RPGs like Mass Effect can help you develop your empathy and ethics, without the inevitable trial and error of dealing with real-life dilemmas.
Platformers can improve your spatial reasoning
Spatial reasoning is another area in which video games can have a positive effect on you. A study found that playing Super Mario 64 can improve spatial reasoning, memory formation, and strategic planning.
It was discovered that playing certain video games, like Super Mario 64, can physically change your brain structure over long periods of time.
Super Mario 64 isn’t the only game that can have this sort of effect on you, though. Video games that are in the platformer genre, in general, have this effect. Platformers are games where you have to jump from platform to platform. This can improve your ability to judge distance and depth outside of video games.
First-person shooter (FPS) games can improve your visual attention
Researchers have found that first-person shooter (FPS) games can positively affect you in some ways. Specifically, first-person shooters can improve your selective visual attention. This can improve your ability to quickly and accurately pick out objects in motion. If you play a sport like tennis, basketball, football, baseball or any sport that involves a ball, you rely on your selective visual attention a lot.
But improving your selective visual attention isn’t only useful if you’re an athlete. If you drive a car, for example, you have to be able to spot small details and react quickly. Considering that your goal in a first-person shooter (FPS) is to spot your opponents and react faster than they can by shooting them first, it’s obvious how regularly playing an FPS can help you in this area.
Most video games can help you stay focused for longer
While video games can definitely be a distraction, the act of playing video games itself may be able to help you stay focused for longer periods of time when doing other tasks.
While the sort of multitasking you do on a daily basis through your social media and mobile devices has been shown to impede focus, certain video games have been to proven to be able to enhance it. After all, playing video games requires you to stay focused on a limited number of tasks for long periods of time. This inevitably improves your ability to stay focused on other tasks, outside of gaming.
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