Video games may improve mental skills

Video games are not detrimental to today’s youth. On the contrary, they are beneficial to their problem-solving development. Not only are video games beneficial to the youth, but also to the elderly. Also, the military uses video games in order to strengthen the brain’s ability to act quickly.

A study conducted by Jyoti Mishra and others at the University of California in San Francisco and the University of Rochester found that playing video games increases reaction time and the ability to ignore distractions. They reported that the first result “was an enhanced ability to suppress irrelevant distracting information… The second was superior ability to make accurate discriminations and perceptual decisions under high load conditions.”

In the study, combat-based video games that require gamers to make split-second decisions were shown to have enabled the participants to perform better than those who had little to no play time.

The participants were hooked up to headsets that tracked brain signals and were told to follow one of three rapid sequences of letters. They were told to press a button whenever they saw the sequence, all the while ignoring distractions on the screen. The participants who played more combat-based video games were shown to be able to react faster and ignore distractions better.

Forbes covered the Washington State Algebra Challenge in July and reported on a groundbreaking new teaching method. Using Dragonbox, a mobile app that teaches algebra, 4,192 K-12 students learned and worked on algebra. Over the course of five days, they solved 390,935 algebraic equations. The result was that players performed better in algebra than their non-playing counterparts. Furthermore, “of those students who played at least 1.5 hours [of Dragonbox], 92.9 percent achieved mastery. Of those students who played at least one hour, 83.8 percent achieved mastery. Of those students who played at least 45 minutes, 73.4 percent achieved mastery.” Video games have the potential to teach children at a quick rate.

Video games not only aid children in active learning, but they help the elderly, too. A study conducted by Adam Gazzaley and the University of California in San Francisco sought to prove that video games help fight mental degradation. Gazzaley and his colleagues created NeuroRacer, a video game that requires the player to drive a car down a narrow, winding road while signs appeared on the screen. At the beginning of the study, the elderly players performed worse than their younger counterparts.

However, after playing for 12 hours a month, the study revealed that the elderly’s ability to retain memories and their ability to concentrate improved after repetition.

Strategic and analytical skills are also gained by playing video games.  Steven Johnson, author of the book Everything Bad Is Good for You confirms this. “You have to manage multiple objectives at the same time,” he says. “You have to manage all these different resources, and you have to make decisions every second of the game.”

In addition, problem solving skills are increased through playing video games.

In fact, the Office of Naval Research is using war video games in order to train warfighters to quickly solve problems. Ray Perez, a program officer at the ONR’s warfighter performance department, said, “We have discovered that video game players perform 10 to 20 percent higher in terms of perceptual and cognitive ability than normal people that are non–game players.” People employed to ensure that we have the military advantage use video games as a training aid.

Parents and teachers across the nation have for a long time been warning children about the dangers of video games rotting brains. Scientific evidence through informed study is proving that video games can potentially strengthen the brain’s performance in quick problem solving.


Jysal Rousan-Price is a freshman intended business major. 

This article was posted in the section Opinion.