Do Video Games Help You Learn?

by Staff & Contributors

Many kids, teens, adults and seniors engage in video game play. This may come as a surprise to some, but certainly not to those who are avid gamers. The gaming world’s ‘inner-circle’ comprises the widest possible range of players from all demographics. Some folks like to dabble in video game play as a distraction from real life stressors such as work, kids, school, deadlines, or simply to have fun. Over the years, a significant body of research has been dedicated to studying the impact of video games on society. Initially, this took a negative slant with educators, psychologists and parents believing that video game play cultivated antisocial behaviour, poor habits, and diminished mental acuity. We now know better.

Numerous Scientific Studies Debunk Age-Old Myths about Video Game Play

Back in 2014, a group of scientists published the results of their extensive study regarding the benefits of video game play. This study revealed that players who participate in action-packed games are associated with improved motor skills. In November 2014, another study was released indicating that there was no causal link between video game violence (shooter games, wargames, carjacking games etc.) and real-life violence. It appears that human beings have the capacity to distinguish between fantasy and reality. These are important observations in the scientific community, and they carry over into the social realm as well.

Perhaps the most damning indictment of those against video game play came from the University of Rochester. Their study concluded that players of action-packed games are better learners. It is difficult to argue with the work of research Professor Daphne Bavelier. According to this academic from the cognitive science faculty, ‘… Players become better learners by playing the fast-paced action games. In order to sharpen its prediction skills, our brains constantly build models, or templates, of the world… The better the template, the better the performance. And now we know playing action video games actually fosters better templates.

Which Types of Games Enhance Cognitive Function, Learning and Skill?

Examples of action-packed games include popular wargames like Call of Duty Black Ops Zombies, World War Heroes, Call of World War II, Zombie Reaper 2, Modern Combat Versus: New Online Multiplayer FPS and others. When players were participating in action-based games, the University of Rochester team utilized pattern discrimination to compare their visual performance against those who don’t play action-based games. The differences were notable.

There are also hybrid games that fuse the action-packed elements with cognitive puzzle solving elements. These games are ideally suited to players with a penchant for action-based learning. Many examples abound, including cube blast games which require players to solve complex puzzles through action-based gameplay. Many of these games fuse action elements (rockets, bombs and explosive wheels) with puzzle solving abilities. Additional studies were conducted by the University of Rochester to determine whether pattern discrimination through video game training can amplify a person’s abilities or not.

The results were conclusive: Action video games had a dramatically improved effect on the templates used by players, compared to those who don’t play action games i.e. games like The Sims. Perceptual learning tasks were easier for video game players involved in action games than non-action game players. These results may well have been labelled a scathing indictment of those against video game play. However, the researchers simply wanted to provide substantial evidence about the inherent benefits of interactive gameplay on mental acuity, intellect and learning ability.

Previous post:

Next post: