We hear conflicting reports about how video games affect our brains. According to one study, video games help us learn; the second may mean that they make young people more aggressive. Douglas A. Gentile argues that the way games affect our brains is not an “this or that” assumption; The game can have both positive and negative results, and what these researchers find depends on what they test. Gentile suggests that researchers focus their research on the five features of video game design to identify these different effects.
Players, parents, politicians, and the press denigrate or attack video games in a video-like way, opening the door to a spiral that obscures our understanding of how these games affect people. For example, the European Parliament discussed the possibility of restricting children’s access to video games. In a press release on the report on the outcome of the debate, Parliament stated that games could have a “detrimental effect on children’s minds”. However, the Guardian’s headline read, “Video games are good for kids.”
Psychologists and neuroscientists doing well-designed research have begun to shed light on the effects of video games in the real world. These studies show a clear trend: games have many brain effects, and most of them are not obvious; they occur at a level that is not immediately reflected in open behavior. Because the effects are subtle, many people think that video games are just fun. Varying strength studies have supported claims of both beneficial and detrimental effects. Too often, the debate ends in a battle between good and bad, reminiscent of the conspiracies of violent video games themselves.
Games can teach us skills or reduce sensitivity to violence
Well-designed video games are natural masters 1. They provide immediate feedback on players ’success by sharing reinforcements and penalties that help learn at different speeds and opportunities to practice until the championship and then automatically. Video games can also be customized for individual students, teaching players to transfer knowledge or skills to the real world. Players repeat actions during the game, and repetition is a prerequisite for long-term influence — strengthening the connections between the brain and cells (synapses) through repeated use that is believed to dampen memory and learning. To quote a memorial invented in 1940 by Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb: “Together, igniting neurons merge.”
Several lines of research show that video games can bring a variety of benefits. For example, a 2002 report by the US Department of Education provides evidence of the effectiveness of game learning2. A neurobiological study published in the journal Nature found that playing action video games can improve visual perception of the perimeter of a computer screen. Occurring in natural neuroscience, it has been shown that action games can improve adults ’ability to distinguish between different shades of gray (called contrast sensitivity). What is important for activities such as driving at night 4. Other studies show that games that require teamwork can help people develop teamwork skills.
Various studies show that video games that contain “prosocial” content (situations where characters help each other in a non-violent way) improve this behavior outside of the game. In one study, 161 students were randomly assigned to play one of several violent, neutral, or prosocial games (requiring beneficial behavior). After the game, students completed a task that could help or harm another student. Those who played violent games did more harm to other students, while those who played prosocial games were helpful.