Research shows action games can improve cognitive function

For all the bad publicity video games have received, they're not actually going to melt your brain!

Video games have had a bad history, especially with violence in games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. However, action games have been shown to improve cognitive function.

In the video Trace Dominguez from Discovery News states, through a study published by the University of Geneva, that action games improve one's ability to multitask and focus on multiple things at once. This is because action games have so much going on at once. There are auditory cues, visual cues, and sometimes even touch cues if your controller vibrates.

With gamers focusing on all of these aspects at once, they've become much more accustomed to doing so in real life. This is why many military officers will play Call of Duty. While the games themselves don't mimic real-life combat, the games help the soldiers learn to focus on multiple things at once.

But action games also have open layouts that require teamwork to complete. Since players will also have to communicate with their teammates, this adds a whole new level of multitasking that gamers must incorporate (not to mention it takes a decent amount of teamwork to have a team function that well). Players have to keep up with the goals of their teammates and the strategies that the team has developed to beat a level or mission within the game.

Dominguez appropriately labels this type of learning as "active learning." A player has to adapt to the new surroundings as they constantly change.

Video games are a form of learning, where your brain has to interact with what it is seeing on the screen. In some fashion, your brain is learning and taking in what is occurring on the screen. Action games are not excluded from that, but they are helping people learn in a way different from the controversial "video games result in violence" standpoint.

What did you think of the video? Are you excited for this research? Be sure to let us know in the comments below! 


Published Oct. 19th 2015
  • Thewritevictor
    Like we actually need scientists and research to tell us what we already know. Gamers rule. End of discussion.
  • Durinn McFurren
    I saw reports on this article before, but yeah, it is nice to see some positive benefits from gaming! It isn't all that surprising to me, though. I see it like music: learning to play music has other cognitive benefits beyond the music itself, because it makes the brain exercise itself. However, this is the first scientific study to find such results that I know of.

    (As to the oft-reported negative influences of gaming, it's worth noting perhaps that lots of things can have a negative impact on certain types of individuals. I mean, to take a rather extreme example, religion results in the crusades, but most people would agree that this doesn't in itself make religion as an whole suspect. Similarly, Goethe's novel 'The Sorrows of Young Werther' led to 'copycat suicides' in Europe, to an extent that he actually addressed the problem in the second edition of the book! But again, nobody suggests that books per se are 'bad' as a result).

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