Does playing games make you smarter?

12/08/2012

Video games have long been criticized for their ‘violent themes’ and influencing people to the point of distracting them from their academic and professional goals. However, the gaming sector, which is touted to rake in about $25 billion in annual revenues, may just have ardent supporters in the form of several researchers, who have stated playing games can be beneficial.
Several studies have claimed that video games can help people think critically by making the brain conjure up out of the box solutions. Renowned linguistics researcher James Paul Gee claims that video games hone problem-solving skills by enabling players to immerse themselves well enough to pass increasingly difficult levels of gameplay.
There is another argument which states Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) actually boost communication and collaboration abilities, since they require players to interact with each other in a virtual environment. Add to this the many discussion boards and fan sites, where players get to know one another through discussions and sharing of gameplay strategies. MMOGs also make players take on ‘roles’, giving them new ways to experience and respond to certain situations and environments within a game.
Dr. Jane McGonigal, PhD., a video game designer, even goes as far as to say that those who indulge in a bit of gaming deal far better with failure than those who don’t. This is because almost all gamers fail on many occasions during gameplay- whether it comes to passing a level, winning a fight, or boosting their score. ‘Failing well’ is a handy tool to have when you work in any organization or run a business.
In her TED talk, cognitive neuroscientist and University Of Geneva professor Dr. Daphne Bavelier said that individuals who play video games in moderation are better multitaskers as well.
The key, as to everything in life, is to do everything in moderation. Obsessive gaming can take a toll on your social, academic, and professional life if you don’t know where to draw the line. However, gaming can be beneficial if you know how to make the most of what it has to offer.