Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When Gaming Is Good For You

            72% of today’s US households play video or computer games, and this number is rising. Gaming is a topic that often takes a lot of heat, being defended and debated by gamers and adversaries respectively. The Wall Street Journal shed some light in this morning’s newspaper on the side of gamer proponents, highlighting multiple benefits of gaming.  Gaming can change the adult brain, resulting in better multitasking, decision-making, motor skills and even creativity. “The specific benefits are wide ranging, from improved hand-eye coordination in surgeons to vision changes that boost night driving ability.” Often studies surrounding gaming focus on its’ effect on violent behavior and other negative associations, but it is in fact these violent games that recently showed the strongest beneficial effect on the brain. They found that “the most adept gamers can make choices and act on them up to six times a second – four times faster than most people.” In a world with so much excess information, the ability to ignore irrelevant information and juggle simultaneous tasks is critical, and a skill that several studies show that gamers are better at than non-gamers.   

Of course with these benefits there are also proven downfalls. After just a week of electronic gameplay, depressing brain function activity can result among regions associated with emotional control. But good or bad, the gaming industry deserves attention, with computer gaming alone being a $25 billion a year entertainment business. Studies will continue to expose the benefits and downsides of gaming, especially as scientists turn the commercial games themselves into laboratories of learning.

For more interesting insights on the topic, you can read the whole article online at the Wall Street Journal.  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203458604577263273943183932.html?KEYWORDS=When+gaming+is+good+for+you

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