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Advantages of Video Games on Our Brains

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 learn more about these games, and read reviews of them, you can use this direct link to StarCraft games from Amazon.com.

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.

(Photo of StarCraft cover courtesy of Amazon.com.)

Examples of Some of the StarCraft Games Offered by Amazon.com

Before we move on to discussing some of the other mental advantages to playing video games, I wanted to show readers a few examples of these highly rated games.

To get more details about any of them, click on the blue product name and you will be taken directly to Amazon where you can read the reviews and find out more details, such as the specific game console needed to play that particular version of the game.

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Expansion Pack
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Expansion Pack

Here is the Heart of the Swarm Expansion Pack for StarCraft II.

 
Starcraft - PC
Starcraft - PC

This is the original StarCraft game. Make sure you click on the blue product name to be certain that you have the right gaming console to play this version. If not, you can enter your own search criteria to find the right version for your equipment.

 
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Collector's Edition - PC/Mac
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm Collector's Edition - PC/Mac

If you are a fan of StarCraft, you may love having this collector's edition. This is a great gift for your favorite gamer, too!

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

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

 
StarCraft Battle Chest
StarCraft Battle Chest

Have a little more fun with the StarCraft Battle Chest.

 

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.

A Variety of Video Games and Consoles for Your Enjoyment

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 using the direct link to Amazon at the top of this page.

In addition, if you need a new gaming console in order to play your favorite games, Amazon sells those, too. See some popular choices below:

Xbox One Console - Day One Edition
Xbox One Console - Day One Edition

Xbox is another gaming system that has its fans. If you need a new one, be sure to click on the blue product box above and read the reviews and specifications.

 
Wii Console with Mario Kart Wii Bundle - White
Wii Console with Mario Kart Wii Bundle - White

This Wii console is a great way for your family to play video games while stying fit and active. Again, click on the blue product name above in order to learn more.

 
NES System: Video Game Console
NES System: Video Game Console

Here is the popular Nintendo video game console. Fun for the whole family! Don't forget you can click on the product name if you want to read more about the Nintendo, including customer reviews.

 

Share Your Opinion About Playing Video Games

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

Yes! Video games teach us the skills we need to be employed in the 21st Century!

peter120 8 months ago

You should definately check out www.braingymmer.com/ awesome website with loads of brain training games and brain teasers. I have been a member for a bit over 3 months now and I can already feel the improvement!


Raimause 8 months ago

Video games have many benefits for problem solving, in some cases hand-eye coordination, and thinking fast under pressure. Plus, they can teach you valuable skills in dealing with people. Some of the games with difficult raids where you have to lead people to success can teach certain social skills, and I know it has caused some people to become way more confident and helped them out in their lives.


hosibinh 8 months ago

I need it for my free time


CalobrenaOmai 8 months ago

Most definitely. However this is usually more true for select genres.


JEWELSS 8 months ago

Yes, playing games improves various skill sets. However, one can get addicted and play almost 24/7. Also, many games can warp ones mind


RuthMadison 8 months ago

Love them! I'm 32 and I am a WoW player (Thank you, Blizzard!) as well as various other games. I still get lots done in my real life, but games are a fantastic way to unwind! Plus I'm engaging my brain unlike zoning out in front of the TV. I'm so glad you did research and found out the truth about video games :)


susan369 8 months ago

I let my son play on the Xbox with his friends. They often communicate and work together as a team. I think that can only be a good thing. If he just played by himself all the time, I would be more worried. I also make sure we spend some time out and about, so he's not glued to the screen all the time.


Tim Bader 8 months ago from Surrey, UK

Like anything in life, too much of it can be a bad thing, but video games can be as good a way to relax and learn as anything else - sometimes better.


gbgc12 8 months ago

Yes, You are right. Because video games increase your mind power through include hurdle into the games. Lots of games increase your mind possibilities of find out the solution of the problem.

I have one more resource for statistic gaming is GBGC.com


Stewie4pres 8 months ago

I used to be so addicted to WOW. I loved that game. But I also take the time to get outside and workout and that sort of thing.


meadster 9 months ago

i agree, however too much video games is a bad thing.(meaning i take side either way, wish there was a 3rd opinion)


Two Crafty Paws 9 months ago

Totally agree! My mom got me a popular game in German when I was a kid (sneaky mother), I've spent hours behind the dictionary trying to understand what the game was about and did get a grasp of basic German because of that. Puzzle games are especially great.


DeborahDian 10 months ago from Orange County, California Hub Author

@astinax: I agree that games should be played in moderation!


astinax 10 months ago

I think that video games are important for our brains and develops some capacities that would be hard to develop otherwise. On the other hand, I think that like everything in life it should be played in moderation.

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    No! We need to get outside more and stop playing so many video games!

    Arachnea 8 months ago from Texas USA

    Since I can't give a conditional answer, I will say the idea that as a result of the articles above folks will stay indoors more rather than experience the outdoors (even a trip to the trash dumpster) I had to lean closer to the no answer. I didn't know all those high tech, high IQ prerequisites went hand in hand w/playing video games. One learns something new every day.


    tbonestakes 8 months ago

    They certainly keep one engaged. Of course the type of game played matters as well.


    Merrci 8 months ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

    It's another of those "in moderation" things I think. I can see benefits, but it's so easy to get wrapped up in any game (even words for friends!) and not want to stop! It's so wonderful to be outside in the fresh air with friends, moving!


    GrammieOlivia 8 months ago from Toronto

    Depends on the video game. I find that so many of them are violent to the nth degree and that makes an impression on the brain too! I think I would go outside more and leave the video games on the shelf myself. I know I'm on the losing side of this argument, but it's mho!


    Zeross4 8 months ago

    I agree that video games are good for our brains, and I know first hand the strategy and skills that some of these games take. I love gaming, and have been an avid gamer since I was a child. I still say that we should find a happy medium between playing video games and doing things outside of that as well. I'm gonna have to say No though, even though it's good for our minds I think too much of it can be harmful and take away from the joys in life (I have a brother who is addicted to video games, and I would love to see him outside more!)


    tonyleather 8 months ago

    Not in the slightest! I think they are to be avoided at all costs!

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      What is your opinion about the advantages of playing video games? 25 comments

      WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 9 months ago Level 5 Commenter

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


      boneworld profile image

      boneworld 9 months ago from West of Left South Lucky Level 3 Commenter

      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!


      christian reese 5 profile image

      christian reese 5 8 months 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 http://glipho.com/christianreese/6-ways-to-deal-wi... 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.


      Zeross4 profile image

      Zeross4 8 months ago Level 5 Commenter

      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!


      esmonaco profile image

      esmonaco 8 months ago from Lakewood New York Level 7 Commenter

      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!!!


      Tim Bader profile image

      Tim Bader 8 months ago from Surrey, UK Level 3 Commenter

      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.


      susan369 8 months 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.


      tonyleather 8 months ago

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


      Paul Ward profile image

      Paul Ward 8 months ago from Liverpool, England Level 1 Commenter

      First draft of the human genome map was released in 2000

      Foldit was released in 2008


      RuthMadison profile image

      RuthMadison 8 months 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..


      RuthMadison profile image

      RuthMadison 8 months 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!


      Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 8 months ago from Concord VA Level 4 Commenter

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


      Zeross4 profile image

      Zeross4 8 months ago Level 5 Commenter

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


      delia-delia profile image

      delia-delia 8 months ago Level 5 Commenter

      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."


      SusanDeppner profile image

      SusanDeppner 8 months ago from Arkansas USA Level 7 Commenter

      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!


      CalobrenaOmai 8 months 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.


      Sundaycoffee 8 months 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.


      IanTease profile image

      IanTease 8 months ago Level 2 Commenter

      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.


      Jo-Jackson profile image

      Jo-Jackson 8 months ago

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


      anonymous 8 months ago

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


      DeborahDian profile image

      DeborahDian 8 months ago from Orange County, California Hub Author

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


      tbonestakes profile image

      tbonestakes 8 months ago

      Very enlightening, congrats on the LOD!


      Arachnea profile image

      Arachnea 8 months ago from Texas USA Level 7 Commenter

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


      evawrites1 profile image

      evawrites1 8 months ago Level 2 Commenter

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


      tazzytamar profile image

      tazzytamar 4 months ago from chichester Level 6 Commenter

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

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