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5 Positive Effects Of Video Games

Since about the 1960s, companies have been creating video games to entertain people in the comfort of their own homes. As time has progressed, the technology to create those video games has evolved. While there are many people who say games are nothing but ‘garbage that rots the brain,’ scientific studies have been done to examine the exact opposite.

What benefits do video games bestow on the adult or child playing them? How does it help and why? Here are a few ways that video games may help you and/or your child, according to science:

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1. 3D Video Games Can Increase Memory Capacity

A 2015 study led by researchers from the University of California Irvine was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The study brought in 69 volunteers and divided them into thirds. One third to play Super Mario World, a third to play Angry Birds, and the rest to play nothing.

“Because of their engaging experiences and enriching 3D virtual environments, the same video games that have been played for decades by children and adults alike may actually provide our brain with meaningful stimulation,” the study stated.

The first group, who played Mario did much better than the other groups on memory tasks following the study.

“Video gamers who specifically favor complex 3D video games perform better,” deduced the researchers.

2. Gaming Could Be Good for Pain Relief

This may sound like something out of a game-addicted teenager’s mouth, but has actual backing by science. A 2012 review of 38 studies examined, found that video games improved the health of 195 patients in regards to their psychological and physical therapy needs.

A 2010 study presented at the American Pain Society conference had also found something interesting: virtual reality (or VR) games specifically, helped patients deal with the pain caused by chronic illness and/or medical procedures. It was also effective at helping reduce anxiety in some individuals.

“The focus is drawn to the game, not the pain or the medical procedure, while the virtual reality experience engages visual and other senses,” shared Jeffrey Gold from the University of Southern California.

3. There Are Evidence Games That Help Dyslexic Kids Improve Their Reading

If your child has dyslexia, there’s a good chance the right video game may help them cope and even improve their reading.

Published in 2013 in Cell, one study examined how action an action game, such as Rayman Raving Rabbids, could help dyslexic children aged 7 to 13 years read faster, and have 100% accuracy.

Traditional reading treatments were less effective in comparison, likely thanks to how boring and time-consuming they may be.

It is believed that the fast pace of the game helps keep the children engaged, increasing their attention span. As this is only hypothetical, it would require extensive study to confirm.

4. Tetris Could Help Limit Trauma

Tetris, despite its simplicity, is considered one of the ‘classics’ of its time. Recent studies have yielded interesting findings using the game.

In 2016, the emergency department of Oxford, UK treated 37 patients for a large traffic accident. That group of patients was randomly selected to play 20 minutes of the tile-matching game.

A group of 34 other patients, instead of being given the game, were tasked with logging normal activity such as texting, crosswords, and reading.

The group selected to play the game displayed fewer tendencies for flashbacks to the traumatic events.

The research regarding the study was published in March 2017 in Molecular Psychiatry. It concluded that “brief, science-driven intervention offers a low-intensity means that could substantially improve the mental health of those who have experienced the psychological trauma.”

5. Some Research Shows That Video Games Might Actually Make You Smarter

Here’s one that even veteran video gamers like myself are pleasantly surprised to see. A 2013 study published in PLoS ONE stated that starting up a game console may enhance one’s cognition.

Researchers conducting the study had five different groups of non-gamers play a phone game one hour a day over the course of four weeks.

Results saw that with both action and non-action games, there was an improvement in participants’ cognitive function, measured using short-term memory tests.

Whether or not you play Call of Duty on one of the major consoles or you’re an Angry Birds fanatic, take joy in the fact that these games are keeping your synapses crackling. What games do you feel help your brain function? Which is your favorite to learn from?

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