Video games have a lot of negative stereotypes. They’re just one of the many so-called reasons that our kids are being disruptive or violent. Or, you’ve probably heard of the stereotype that gamers are lazy, bad at school, or anti-social.
Researchers have taken part in multiple experiments to see if any of those accusations are true, and for the most part, video games actually have a positive impact on your psyche and mental health. Not all video games are built the same though, so let’s look at the impacts each genre plays on our learning ability.
Platformers or Puzzle
Improves: Brain Function
Games like Super Mario Brothers and Shovel Knight aren’t just games where you jump across obstacles, they also help with spacial awareness. Games like The Legend of Zelda are well known for puzzles and thinking outside of the box. Reaction skills and motor skills are also improved. There are tons of online platformers including Angry Birds, that test your skills against your other friends who play the game.
Role-Playing Games (RPGs)
Improves: Problem-solving, logic, strategy, reasoning.
Final Fantasy 14, the Elder Scrolls Series, and Mass Effect are all RPGs that have online modes that task you to assume the role of a character. You level up by making choices for your character. This includes the individuals actions, dialog choices and the way you choose to make them stronger. Reasoning, strategy, and problem-solving all come into play with most RPGs. If your RPG has dialog choices, they get an exercise in ethics and empathy. Did you know that casino games can also improve your problem solving? You can try out a variety of games at online casinos.
Real Time Strategy (RTS)
Improves: Multitasking, Planning, Prioritization
An RTS like StarCraft 2, or Age of Mythology makes you think quick on your feet. Since the game doesn’t pause (hence real-time) you have to make multiple decisions quickly before the enemy team does. This skill is incredibly useful in real life, as players have to think ahead, be smart, and work together if the game has a co-op element. Things can go wrong really fast if you start to crack under pressure, so multitasking and prioritizing how many resources go to what and adapting to any scenario is what will help you win the game.
Other Genres and their Benefits
Horror games are useful for helping us control our emotions during stressful situations in our real lives. They also help us understand fear and anger, which are valuable to being a well rounded human. Horror also has a lot of problem solving elements at play, since games like Resident Evil make you solve puzzles in a mansion to escape it.
Action shooters like Halo and Call of Duty, despite their negative press, have some benefits as well. They improve attention, accuracy, and multitasking since more shooters expect you to pay attention to multiple targets at once. They also have benefits on our eyes, too, and are linked to improving cataracts.
Co-op online video games, like Overwatch, are said to improve teamwork, as well as planning and communication skills. Although sometimes these interactions can get nasty depending on the demographic playing. If you have a young child playing an online game, it’s best to educate them on how other people may speak to them during play.
How to use Video Games to Improve Brain Function
Utilizing video games as a teaching tool may be the way of the future. Most of the research for academics have had positive effects on children in school. At New York’s Quest to Lean, specialized games are brought into the classroom in order to keep kids engaged in learning. They also swapped out the typical letter grading system with expert, apprentice, and novice.
Tests are now called bosses, which makes children more excited to learn. Teaching with this method has actually improved Math and English scores across the board.
Even games like Minecraft have been put into lesson plans. Most children are playing this game anyway, but now Minecraft can be used to teach young students the importance of cooperation, reading skills, critical thinking and problem solving. It’s likely that more video games will be added to Western curriculums in the future.