There has been a lot of research done into the impact that gaming has on players – and for most of it, it is all positive. Gaming is great for relaxing thanks to the escapism of it. And, even if a game is enraging because you’ve lost, or at a particularly difficult bit, that is still relaxing for many people.
But gaming, or playing certain games, has a significant impact on your brain. There are many ways that playing games can give your brain a good workout and make sure that your brain is in tip-top condition. Here are a couple of ways that games can make you smarter.
When we learn, our brain starts building new pathways, and that increases our knowledge (and confidence). Games, depending on the type, can set you on a path of learning. It might be that you have to solve a problem to unlock an area or solve a riddle to get an item.
Or, you might prefer to play games like crosswords, chess, or sudoku. The last three options require you to understand and learn strategies or delve into your memory to find words. When we play games of almost any kind, we learn many skills along the way.
Many games have a story and lore that go along with them. And perhaps some of the best games ever made rely heavily on this – and most players love it. There is a good reason that our brains love storytelling in games, though; it is because our brains like the connections between the facts. A list of ten facts is great, but when it is woven into a story, it is more easily absorbed. But the coolest thing is that storylines in games give us a hit of oxytocin – the happy hormone, which is great for our brains.
We have all met a person who seems to know everything – no matter what you ask them, they have an answer. Recall and learning go hand in hand; as we learn, our hippocampus is highly engaged, and when that happens, we are more likely to be able to recall facts and information faster.
Some tests done at Stanford University showed that playing games stimulated these conditions. This means that there was a connection between games, gaming, and game-based tools and improved recall.
While there are many games on the market that are just for fun and don’t require any real thought – the type that you float about over fields rather than have to engage with things, many are designed to force you to think. Games that require players to strategize and solve problems increase how skilled they are in this area.
The more often we have to flex those skills, the more it becomes second nature. Problem-solving is one of the tools that people who are considered ‘smart’ often have and work on often.
Whether it is filling in a sudoku square trying to remember a 12-letter word for an obscure activity, or even if you take the left or the right path on an RPG – decisions matter. And, with many games, you don’t have long to make that decision. Decisive decision-making is a skill that can be translated directly into everyday life. The more clarity in your thought process, the faster you can make the right decision.
Spatial reasoning is a tough skill to master, but people who play games often have better spatial reasoning and judgment. It’s not just that, though; it is object manipulation, map reading, navigation, understanding directions, and even the visualization of complex sets of information.
People with great spatial reasoning often work in STEM industries.
How well do you adapt mentally to different circumstances? When it comes to cognitive flexibility, gamers (generally) are able to quickly process and adapt to different circumstances like a change of environment, different control requirements, rules, and challenges.
The ability to quickly assess the situation and then think creatively about how to tackle it is an excellent skill to have. Cognitive flexibility helps people to switch between different mental processes and adjust to what they see in front of them – and also predict some of what might happen.
Gaming of all kinds has been shown to have multiple benefits for the people who are enjoying them. And the good news is that the benefits can be seen across almost all game genres! One thing we didn’t touch on is how much gaming can improve your focus and attention – and if that sounds like something you want to work o, here are some tips: How To Stay Focused When You’re Gaming.
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