June 7, 2020

How Video Gaming Could Improve Your Cognitive Health And Skills

By DLM Editor

There’s no doubt that video gaming can be fun, and it can be an ideal way to pass by an hour or two, immersed in pure entertainment. That element of fun, combined with the competitive edge that friendly or professional gaming brings, has been behind the success of the industry since the first titles began to emerge.

It is, however, a lesser-known fact that video games can help to improve cognitive skills and general mental health and for any individual spending an extended period indoors, those can be very vital factors.

The Science

This isn’t just a theory: Scientific studies have backed up those suggestions that video gaming can lift mood, enhance cognitive functioning and improve skills. All types of games can have a positive impact, but some areas have been given closer attention by these studies.

One such report focuses on action games in particular and at the end of the analysis, it was shown that a number of titles produced those positive effects. The study by the University of Geneva worked on the basis that the brain was malleable, and the games were measured in terms of their effect on perception, attention and reaction time.

The report showed that far from ‘numbing’ those focal areas, there were clear benefits and in fact, video games helped to ‘expand cognitive abilities.’

Keeping it Live

It may not be immediately obvious but online video gaming can also have a beneficial effect on social skills too. At all times of the year, a period of isolation may be inevitable but a few remote games against friends and family can help to keep that social circle intact.

This aspect is particularly true in the case of live casino play. Until relatively recently, roulette and card games were a rather solitary affair with a single online player up against robotic opponents while using automated software. Thanks to developments in that gaming software, the introduction of a live online casino has changed all that for the better.

Many online operators now have a chat room where players can talk and discuss the games that are on offer. It’s also possible to interact with the dealer or croupier although it’s important to remember that they are professionals and part of their job is to keep the game moving.

Live online casinos have, like other areas of gaming, allowed people to meet and make new friends but there are other benefits too. Card games may have an element of chance involved but they also require strategy, quick thinking and there are feats of memory involved too. All of these are key elements which can keep cognitive skills at their sharpest.

Long Term Health

Those areas targeted by the Geneva study are all very important as far as our daily lives are concerned. Sharp reactions and the ability to think quickly and decisively are vital in all walks of life, from the home through to the workplace. The immediate benefits to the individual are obvious but what about potential improvements in long term health?

Dementia is a cruel condition that has a devastating effect on the sufferer and their loved ones, and many studies have taken place in regard to cures and prevention. Specific studies into video gaming are one area that could, potentially, offer some hope.

Titles that fall into the category of ‘brain training’ came heavily under the microscope and the report from Cambridge University suggested that certain games could reduce the risk of dementia. Scientists took 42 patients who were suffering from amnestic mild cognitive impairment – a condition which could be a precursor to Alzheimer’s.

brain training
Studies have found video games such as Brain Training can help reduce the risk of Dementia.

During the study, the participants were split into two groups: One played an app called Game Show for a month while the other played no video games. At the end of the research, it was found that those who had played the game displayed an improvement of around 40 per cent in their episodic memory.

Out in the Fields

When Pokémon Go was released in 2016, it was hailed for its ability to get players out in the open. The nature of the title required players to get out of the house and hunt down Pokémon creatures to boost their score. That approach to gameplay helped to encourage new friendships while enabling players to enjoy the fresh air and the subsequent exercise.

Getting out into the open may not always be possible but that outdoor element to Pokémon Go does raise an important point. While cognitive faculties and fine skills can be an important benefit of video gaming, a mix is always desirable wherever possible and the efforts of Pokémon Go and other, similar titles, have gone a long way towards striking that balance.

Some modern video games now encourage participants to take their game outside such as Pokémon Go.

Your Next Move

There are clearly a host of possible benefits that can be earned from playing video games but one report even suggests that they may help players get a better job. A new business known as Gaming Academy has been analysing players and concluding in terms of which skills can be transferable to the workplace.

For example, effective IT workers have been shown to enjoy puzzle games and the type of brain training titles that were used in the Cambridge University study into dementia. For those that think they can manage a team, games that require strategy and resource management are the key. Typical titles in this category might include Total War, X-Com and Civilisation.

That’s a very comprehensive set of benefits that can be gained from playing video games and for those serious gamers, they will already be taking advantage. From enhancing cognitive functions and developing all round skills, players may even be warding off health problems in later life.

It’s a positive way to look at video gaming and it’s certainly reassuring to know just how beneficial our favourite pastime can be.

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