By Ameyavikram Pathak
Hopewell Valley Central High School
We’ve all heard from, well, about everyone, that video games rot your brain. People often tell their kids to turn off their devices because they want their kids to have healthy eyes in this new era of technological advancements. Some can even argue that violence in certain video games such as Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Fallout, is causing many people to commit acts of violence, like Columbine. But, very few have come to think that maybe Pac-Man or Galaga actually can improve your senses and capabilities that no one has ever thought would do. These “mindless” video games that we assume are just entertainment today can actually help us tomorrow by improving our cognitive abilities, which will help everyone, even adults, complete everyday tasks more efficiently than before.
Two scientists, C. Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier, were completing a study one day on neuroplasticity, or the ability for adults to create even more brain cells or reconstruct the thought process. Green, who was 18 at the time, tried the test on himself. When the results came back, his score wasn’t just above average… it was almost near perfect. Bavelier, who was his adviser and older than Green, performed the test on herself, and she came back with an average score. They wanted to find out more about this, so they experimented on other people. Green asked his friends, and all of them also came back with the same results as him. Bavelier and Green were both astonished by this discovery, but they came to find out that there eventually was one big difference… Green and his friends used to play the so-called “mindless” video games for more than 10 hours per week.
The thought that first person shooter games, or FPS games, were actually helpful for the mind isn’t a very new idea, yet other labs also established that playing FPS games are really good for you. These new skills that gamers make consist of a better ability to focus on certain details, huge sensitivity to contrast, better spatial senses, efficient multitasking, and even working better under pressure, which all help in our daily lives. Video games also enhance reflexes and reaction timings by almost 10 percent, which improve precision and efficiency.
What Action-Themed Games Improve
Non-gamers usually see people who play FPS games as repulsive, chubby, mean guys who have no jobs and are living in their parent’s basement. While some of these gamers are like that, the studies of Bavelier and Green disagree with that stereotype. “Players who immerse themselves in the fast-paced events of digital fantasy worlds derive significant cognitive benefits,” says Bavelier.
FPS games are now being used in labs because these are the types of games that bring forth a better sense of attention. If you’ve actually played Call of Duty, you know that in the game, you have to look for your enemies and get the most amount of kills to win. You can use the map to find your enemies, and you can also use the map itself to find clues as to where your enemy was, is, and is going to be. Even in the zombies mode of the game, one must require strategy, because as new rounds start, the zombies get faster and harder to kill.
But it’s not just better focus that gamers get out of violent video games; gamers also process information faster. When playing COD, if an ally comes in front of you, you can see his gamer tag is blue, whilst the enemy’s is red. A gamer has to make a decision in a split second if the person in front of him is an ally or enemy, and if he is an enemy, the gamer has to decide which weapon to use; if he’s close range, use the melee knife, or if he is further, use the gun.
Experiments on Non-Gamers
To prove their work, scientists experimented on a group of individuals who have rarely or never played video games. First, the entire group gets a psychological evaluation. Then, they are split into two groups; one group plays action games, and the other plays social games. They are required to play one hour a day for five days a week with a set amount of weeks. When the two groups to the evaluation again, the amount of improvement for the group that played action games improved much more than the other group. The intervals of time that the group played the video games was one hour a day, so yes, playing video games all day every day is wrong. But, if you play for a steady interval, it can be very healthy for you.
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Yes, there are bad qualities in video games. But, there are bad qualities in literally everything. What we must do is look for where the benefits are in everything and use them to our advantage, like these video games. We should not abuse them by playing for however long we want, but use them to improve ourselves.