By Record Head
From action-packed shooter games to challenging strategy games, we love a good video game. As technology advances and game developers keep creating fresh content, there seems to be a new game to try every day. Luckily for gamers like us, there are many benefits to playing video games that will encourage you to keep playing — as if you needed another reason.
The positive effects of video games are numerous, from better memory and problem-solving to improved mood and social skills. While those who don’t play video games may argue that they make you lazy, harm your brain or ruin your social life, video games actually have many physical, cognitive and social benefits. The next time someone tells you that you play too many video games, you can turn to this list of 10 reasons video games are good for your brain.
Many video games require some serious strategy and concentration. If you have ever built your own civilization in Minecraft or fought for your life in Fortnite, you know how important it is to remember where you found specific resources or where you need to go next. With 3D graphics and immersive audio, video game environments are extremely rich in stimuli. Navigating the virtual world of video games is now very similar to navigating the real world. In fact, exploring video game universes can have a positive impact on memory in your everyday life.
When you must juggle multiple tasks and goals while navigating a virtual space, you are exercising your hippocampus. This is the part of the brain responsible for converting short-term memory to long-term memory, as well as controlling spatial memory. When you keep your hippocampus in shape, you will see improved long-term memory and be better at navigating physical space. If you are prone to getting lost on your way to the store, video games may be able to help improve your memory for directions.
A 2015 study from the University of California, Irvine provided evidence for the cognitive benefits of playing video games when they tested a group of gamers and a group of non-gamers in memory tasks. Those who frequently played complex 3D video games performed better at memory tasks related to the hippocampus than those who did not play video games or those who played only simple 2D games. The study also showed that when non-gamers played a complex 3D game each day for 30 minutes, their memory improved over time.
As a person ages, their memory naturally declines. Regular video game play may be a great way to keep your mind sharp even as you get older, so you will always be able to find your car in the parking lot or remember how to get to your friend’s house.
2. Spatial Visualization
On top of improving your spatial memory, playing video games also helps you visualize space better. A 2013 study from the American Psychological Association showed that shooter video games improve how you think about objects in three dimensions. Gamers are better at judging distances between objects or mentally rotating objects to imagine how they might fit into a space.
This enhanced spatial visualization has practical benefits, like knowing whether you will be able to parallel park in a tight spot or organizing your closet, so everything fits. Good spatial visualization is also essential for success in many STEM careers.
3. Perception and Vision
When faced with a complex environment with competing stimuli, your brain creates a perceptual template that helps you determine what is important and what is not. This perceptual template enables you to assess and respond to a situation. According to a 2014 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, playing action video games can improve a person’s ability to create perceptual templates. This type of improvement in perception is especially beneficial, as it is not task-specific but can apply to any situation.