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Advantages of Video Games on Our Brains

Updated on October 4, 2015
DeborahDian profile image

Deborah has four daughters, son-in-laws, seven grandchildren and other people for whom she buys gifts. She writes about her best gift ideas

Video Games Can Help Us Think More Quickly!

When you play video games, you also are practicing your decision making skills.  As long as you don't overdo it, you are actually helping your brain!
When you play video games, you also are practicing your decision making skills. As long as you don't overdo it, you are actually helping your brain! | Source

Video Games Can Produce Positive Effects on the Brain

I live near Blizzard headquarters in Irvine, California and recently met a pleasant, well-spoken and obviously intelligent young man who works there. When I asked what he does for the company he said, "I work in quality control. In other words, I play video games and make sure they work correctly." I told him that teenagers around the world would love his job, and he simply smiled.

To be honest, I have never been a big fan of video games even though, according to statistics released by the consumer research firm the NPD Group, two out of three people living in the United States play them. In addition, 95 percent of Americans under the age of 20 play video games. With so many people engrossed in these games, I was concerned that they could be causing a decline in our ability to think. As I have recently learned, my preconceived opinion couldn't have been further from the truth!

Shortly after my encounter with the Blizzard employee, I read an intriguing article by Amy Wilson, a writer for the Orange County Register. It was entitled "The Wisdom of Being Wired." The case she made for the educational value of popular video games, like StarCraft, has had a significant impact on the way I view these games. StarCraft, I soon learned, is one of the more popular games created by Blizzard. It is also an example of one of the many games that require higher level thinking in order for a player to have a chance of winning. In addition, players develop a number of skills that have educational value, without realizing that they are actually getting a useful education that could help them in a variety of careers later in life.

If you want to see the prices, learn more about these games, or read reviews about them, simply click on the blue product name and you will be taken directly to their Amazon page, where you can get more information or check out the other types of games that are available.

According to Ms. Wilson's article, people playing StarCraft must have complex problem solving abilities, be able to make decisions and implement them at the rate of five actions a second, and have an unconscious understanding of economics and higher math, including differential equations, linear algebra, analytic geometry, and calculus. Phew! That's a lot of knowledge involved in just playing a game!

In fact, a sidebar to the article also mentioned how the highly esteemed University of California at Berkeley has offered a course of study using StarCraft. The preprequisites for taking the class included several math and economic classes.

Advantages of Playing Video Games to Problem Solve

One of the skills you can learn from playing video games is the ability to develop problem solving skills. For example, people who play StarCraft frequently communicate online to try to solve the intricacies of the game and share what they have learned with each other. This increases the knowledge and skill of all the players involved in these collaborations.

In another example, an online puzzle video game named Foldit dealt with protein folding. It was developed by the University of Washington and it eventually went viral. People who played the game helped decode the structures of a variety of proteins, including the one that causes AIDS. In real life, geneticists used similar techniques to pool their knowledge and map the human genome. In other words, many real life scientists have honed their crowd-sourcing and technical skills by playing video games when they were young.

Playing video games is not just the way to learn how to become a video game designer, as I once thought. Instead, the same research techniques can translate into becoming a better scientist, architect, physician, engineer or mathematician. Playing one of these games is actually just a way of learning how to solve an ever more complex series of problems, and that is great for our brains. In addition, more and more researchers, from highly recognized schools such as those in the University of California system as well as the University of Rochester in New York and Michigan State University, are validating the benefits of playing these games. In fact, not only do these games improve cognitive skills, but they also appear to have the ability to enhance a child's creativity.

While you may still not want to let your child play so many video games that they never get outside to play, allowing them a reasonable amount of time to play these games may actually increase their ability to grow up and have a successful career in a variety of occupations.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Wings of Liberty is one of the versions of StarCraft II.


A Variety of Video Games Can Help Keep You Mentally Alert

There are thousands of video games that may interest the gamers in your family. If you are interested in looking for a specific game, you can enter your own search criteria by clicking on the blue product name of any of the games featured here.

Most games, when played in moderation, will provide you with the mental benefits mentioned here. Of course, you have to make sure that you are leading a balanced life, getting enough sleep, eating right and getting plenty of physical activity. All of these are also necessary in order to think clearly and quickly.

Share Your Opinion About Playing Video Games

Do you agree that it is good for our brains to play video games?

What is your opinion about the advantages of playing video games?

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    • ReviewsfromSandy profile image

      Sandy Mertens 2 years ago from Wisconsin

      I do have the Starcraft software though it is no longer compatible. Brings back memories.

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 2 years ago from Orange County, California

      It is nice to know that a reasonable amount of time spent playing video games can actually benefit our brains!

    • ReviewsfromSandy profile image

      Sandy Mertens 2 years ago from Wisconsin

      I remember playing Starcraft. Good adventures here.

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      I was as surprised as anyone to learn about the mental advantages that come to those who spend time playing video games. Who knew?

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      I'm so glad that you found the information in this article helpful!

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      sheilamarie78 3 years ago

      I learned something by reading this hub. Thanks, DeborahDian!

    • tazzytamar profile image

      Anna 3 years ago from chichester

      This lens was really interesting - I had no idea there were so many positive effects from playing video games!!

    • evawrites1 profile image

      evawrites1 3 years ago

      I'm not a fan of video games so I find this lens very interesting. Thanks!

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 3 years ago from Texas USA

      All I can say is, whoda thunk? Very compelling article, however.

    • profile image

      tbonestakes 3 years ago

      Very enlightening, congrats on the LOD!

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 3 years ago from Orange County, California

      @Sundaycoffee: I think that you make an excellent point. It is important to have balance in life and not confuse video games with reality!

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Very good points. Video games definitely help in some areas. Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • Jo-Jackson profile image

      Jo-Jackson 3 years ago

      Video games are great fun, but like everything you should play in moderation and not spend all your time playing. Great lens.

    • IanTease profile image

      IanTease 3 years ago

      If played a moderate amount I can see the advantages, compared to just watching television there must be more thought involved in gaming. Nice lens.

    • profile image

      Sundaycoffee 3 years ago

      I'm sure these games can improve one's thinking, but I doubt that they are that beneficial.

      I fear that we are slowly turning into "button-pushers", devoid of feelings and aloof to the outside world, living under the impression that, if it works on the screen, it will work in real life too.

    • profile image

      CalobrenaOmai 3 years ago

      Love the amazon selections; I actually own the Super NES. Any who, the advantages of playing video games will vary per person as well as genre. There are games that designed exclusively for cognitive training. There are some RPG [both MMO and non] that have you follow a particular storyline and sometimes you have to solve problems/puzzles in order to progress.

      The Brain Age games are definitely up there for having benefits for playing. In fact, playing video games got me interested in joining the field of art. Yet surprisingly writing also became a niche at the same time. One of the most enjoyable aspects of video games, for me, is the background music.

      Can even remember hooking up the Super NES and plugging in Killer Instinct (the first one) just to listen to the background music. To keep me from doing that my brother lent me the soundtrack that came with the game. Great article. So refreshing to see an article focusing on the positive side of video games.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I guess my brain just doesn't work very well, or I just have poor eye-hand coordination (I can type fast, though...hmm). I'm not a gamer, but now I have something to think about given that my brain isn't getting any younger! Congrats on your thought-provoking Lens of the Day!

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 3 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Interesting lens...however my concerns are based on video gaming obsessions turning to addiction and then possible tragedy (many shootings have been a result of that) just think...a hypothetical world that's created by such video games come with a feeling of satisfaction that gives a false confidence...something a persons might not be getting in reality in their lives.

      When game players become more concerned about interacting in a video game then real life situations, it can be a risk of not having a productive life... If one has an "addictive personality" it can be dangerous...

      I know training exercises for Military on foot or in the Air have good results with videos, but they aren't called games. There has been a problem with some of the military guys that interacted with these types of games causing them to have false confidence or aggression.

      As you can see I feel strongly about this and "just expressing My Opinion."

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      Congratulations on Lens of The Day! You deserved it, I love this lens :)

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 3 years ago from Concord VA

      I think they can be helpful, but should be selected wisely for kids, and not overused.

    • RuthMadison profile image

      RuthMadison 3 years ago

      Have you seen "Extra Credits" videos? You can find them on Youtube. They talk about various elements of gaming and examine their value as an art and ways in which they interact with society. Really interesting stuff!

    • RuthMadison profile image

      RuthMadison 3 years ago

      Video games are great for building family together time. Play with your kids! Skylanders is a console game great fun for both kids and adults, for example..

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 3 years ago from Liverpool, England

      First draft of the human genome map was released in 2000

      Foldit was released in 2008

    • profile image

      tonyleather 3 years ago

      There are NO advantages whatever, as far as I can see, so I avoid these things like the plague!

    • profile image

      susan369 3 years ago

      I'm glad to hear all this! Sometimes I worry that my son spends too much time playing online, but I can see how it can have advantages as well.

    • Tim Bader profile image

      Tim Bader 3 years ago from Surrey, UK

      My kids would play all day too if they could, so we are quite strict about their time on games. However, I would often prefer they play a game than watch a movie or TV show, because they are actively participating, rather than passively watching.

    • esmonaco profile image

      Eugene Samuel Monaco 3 years ago from Lakewood New York

      I agree I think there are advantages, and development of skills playing video games. I have watched our grandson learn form his games. Congratulations on LOTD!!!

    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      My favorite Blizzard game is World of Warcraft, I agree with you- it definitely puts your brain to work playing these kind of games! I love playing online video games, and it is so much fun! I think the key to it is moderation, teaching your kids to have fun outside of games and TV, but letting them enjoy them as well. Loved your lens!

    • christian reese 5 profile image

      christian reese 5 3 years ago

      I have a lot of friends who say video games have been of great help. I think it's all good as long as you don't overdo it. I've always sucked at video games, but that has never stopped me from playing my all time favourite game Starcraft. Recently I even wrote a funny article about it I've also read several books dedicated to Starcraft. Games have great music, stories and art. I think they can enrich one's creativity in more ways than one.

      I hope I didn't get into too much detail. Keep up the good work and have a nice day.

    • boneworld profile image

      Jackson Thom 3 years ago from West of Left South Lucky

      I grew up a major gamer, and here I am a successful adult (maybe relative). I wasn't saturated with games until I got into middle and high school, because they weren't popular until then. But I remember playing for hours upon hours, until my wrists were hurting from the button mashing. And here I am, none the worse for it. Great article!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 3 years ago

      There can be advantages, as long as you do other things as well. My sons would play all day if I let them.