There is more to games, other than the common perception that games are usually played when someone is less busy.
That perception doesn’t end there, it goes further – people who play games are sometimes classified as gamers, unserious fellows who do not have anything useful to do.
Whatever the perception, games have been attributed to be fun, a boredom killer, as well other significances associated with the mind.
Meanwhile, different categories of games exist and they are as broad as the objectives of their different creators.
Most of the games fall under any of these broad groups: the strategy games, the action games, the mind/brain games, the board games and the fun games such as puzzles and teasers.
Of late, I have been researching this idea that games can actually improve one’s intelligence quotient (IQ) and productivity, and I came across some interesting findings.
What Scientists Think
A clinical study done by researchers at the University of Rochester’s Center for Visual Science sought to find answers on possible benefits of games on children and young adults.
According to their findings, among about 114 children and young adults (ages 7 to 22), they found that playing games may have some physiological benefits.
They found that children who play action games such as Call of Duty may develop the ability to pay attention and focus on multiple objects much faster than children who don’t.
By implication, a child whose brain engages in gaming activity – as characterized by certain action, strategy and brain games – tend to have better ability to multitask and be more focused than those who don’t.
According to the research, the study showed that children who play action games exhibit performance levels that are only reached a much later age, or not at all, in non-gamers.
Also, another study published in the scientific journal Current Biology suggests that playing action games improves reaction speed.
This means that a person who plays action games is more likely to have a faster response time to scenarios or emergencies than the average person.
Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester in New York found that Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time, as described by scientist D. Bavelier.
Facts or Myths?
Although some myths and facts may prove contrary, science seems to support the notion that gamers may be more intelligent, responsive and have a higher IQ than the average person.
Do Games Enhance Intelligence?
Some Researchers with the nondepartmental public body Learning and Teaching Scotland found that playing the game Brain Age 2 for 15 minutes every morning helped 30 students at St. Columbia’s grade school in the Scottish city of Dundee beat their peers in a series of standardized math tests.
A research conducted by the University of Illinois professor Arthur Kramer discovered that playing complex strategy games may measurably improve your ability to multitask and make executive decisions.
Dr. Kramer observed that adults who played 23.5 hours of the classic real-time strategy game, Rise of Nations demonstrated better “executive control functions” than a control group of similar subjects who didn’t play.
Do Games Help Increase Brain Size?
Evidence exists that supports the fact that playing games can help increase the size of the human brain.
Recent studies show that certain games actually increase brain function and develop cognitive flexibility, strategy forming and even increase brain matter in young children.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charite University Medicine took measurements of the study’s participants’ brain volume before and after playing Super Mario 64.
The subjects played the game for at least half an hour every day for two months.
The study showed a significant increase in gray matter compared to the control study group that didn’t play games.
According to the research, the areas of the brain that controls spatial navigation, strategic planning and working memory experienced the largest increase in growth.
Do Games Enhance Cognitive Agility
Apart from physical sports and athletics, games also have been shown to offer significant benefits in improving cognitive function and agility.
A study done by scientists from the Queen Mary University of London and the University College of London that focused on participants’ cognitive flexibility found that some video games can enhance cognitive agility.
The scientists asked 72 volunteers to play the game StarCraft, a real-time military strategy game, and The Sims, which simulates real-life situations but doesn’t require memory or tactics.
Their findings showed that players demonstrated significantly higher cognitive agility than nonplayers.
In reality, playing video games can actually be educational for kids and adults alike as affirmed by Psychologists.
Playing video games does offer some cognitive benefits, improving an individual’s basic mental abilities, such as concentration, perception, memory, and problem-solving.
How About Puzzles, Board Games, Teasers, and Riddles?
For some folks, video games are not really their thing, but they are huge fans of puzzles, board games, teasers, and riddles.
Puzzles and riddles are mostly logic-driven, and reasoning based.
This means that you have to logically analyze the options, choices, and moves critically in order to crack or solve them.
The same can be said about board games. Board games like chess and draughts require strategic thinking and mental scenario play to win.
Mazes, for example, may seem too elementary, but they can actually provide quite the exercise for the brain.
Teasers, riddles and trick questions also encourage you to think deeper, analyze scenarios, and also strategize.
They sometimes have hidden meanings and lessons in them to be uncovered.
Although a bit more basic, Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are great mental exercise games that help you match the right words and numbers in the right positions.
Thinking about enhancing your cognitive skills, response time, brain volume and intelligence quotient?
You might want to go ahead and play some games.