The BriefGet Up To Speed
As video games gain prominence, some game creators are turning to global issues, such as poverty alleviation, international diplomacy, and combating climate change, for inspiration. Playing these socially minded games, they argue, allows users to build tangible skills in combating crisis and solving critical problems. But others see the multibillion-dollar gaming industry, dominated by portrayals of crime and war, as a threat that desensitizes its users to violence and encourages anti-social behavior. Will video games soon provide innovative solutions to our most pressing social, political and economic challenges? Or is the impact of gaming overrated and potentially destructive?View Debate Page
- Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Geneva & Co-Founding Advisor, Akili Interactive
Six experts in the field shed light on our current understanding of the positive and negative ways in which playing video games can affect cognition and behavior, and explain how this knowledge can be harnessed for educational and rehabilitation purposes.
An interview with Bavelier about her research and its applications.
Action video games have a lot of ingredients that are actually really powerful for brain plasticity, learning, attention, and vision.
There is now substantial evidence showing that playing one sub-genre of video games, so-called ‘action video games’, leads to improvements in a broad set of behavioral abilities that extend well beyond the confines of the games themselves.
This study shows that media consumption can have complex and counter-intuitive effects on attentional control.
A range of mental skills appears to benefit from game play, including attention, faster processing of information, flexibility of switching from one task to another and visualizing the rotation of an object.
- Chairman, Games for Change & CEO, Power Play
An interview with former Israeli Army Capt. Asi Burak helped create a Middle East peace video game called PeaceMaker.
“The idea is that people start making games that train the brain,” Burak said. “Those people usually come from science and they know how to manipulate the brain with experiences to drive it toward positive outcomes.”
An interview with Asi Burak.
How do we use this technology to deal with the most pressing issues of our days?
- Director, Stanford University OCD and Impulse Control Disorders Clinics & Author, Virtually You
“We may stop ‘needing’ or craving real social interactions because they may become foreign to us,” Aboujaoude explains.
Results of a study in individuals with internet gaming disorder showed altered gray matter density over the amygdala and impaired functional connectivity between the amygdala and the frontal lobe as correlates of impulsivity.
An interview with Dr. Aboujaoude.
Walter R. Boot
- Director, Florida State University Attention and Training Lab
Results suggest that at least some differences between video game experts and non-gamers in basic cognitive performance result either from far more extensive video game experience or from pre-existing group differences in abilities that result in a self-selection effect.
At first glance, the cumulative evidence suggests a strong relationship between gaming experience and other cognitive abilities, but methodological shortcomings call that conclusion into question.
Cognitive abilities did not significantly improve, suggesting caution when recommending video game interventions as a means to reduce the effects of cognitive aging.
Boot worries that the experimenters created room for external factors like persistence and motivation to muck up their results.
The authors review the research on cognitive-training products and expose the science surrounding the benefits of brain games as sketchy at best.
This Research Topic, containing 10 articles, and featuring 45 authors, highlights the promise and challenge of using commercial and custom video games to understand cognition.
A battle has been brewing over whether brain training really works, leaving consumers stuck in the middle, scratching their heads.
The truth is that despite 15 years of research, we don’t actually know how — or if, really — brain-training games work.
Some educators swear by them as valuable high-tech teaching tools but little is known about their impact on learning.
Video games enable some of the worst elements of America’s failing education system.
Researchers from Brown University have found that children who spent more time watching TV, playing video games, or using a smartphone were less likely to finish their homework and, perhaps more ominously, showed less interest in learning overall.
The U.S. Department of Education today launched the EdSim Challenge, a $680,000 competition to design the next-generation of educational simulations that strengthen career and technical skills. The Challenge calls upon the virtual reality, video game developer, and educational technology communities to submit concepts for immersive simulations that will prepare students for the globally competitive workforce of the 21st century.
If you develop a “gameful” mindset, you’ll be more motivated and resilient in the face of everyday challenges.
Mental illness occupies a strange place in video games. Playing video games is not addictive in any meaningful sense. It is normal behavior that, while perhaps in many cases a waste of time, is not damaging or disruptive of lives in the way drug or alcohol use can be.
These games are deliberately designed, with the help of psychology consultants, to make players want to keep playing, and they are available on every platform — gaming consoles, computers, smartphones.
Violence & Aggression
As far as the behavioral addictions go, the main issue is really the degree to which overindulgence in a particular behavior results in serious problems in other areas of a person’s life.
More than 200 academics have signed an open letter criticizing controversial new research suggesting a link between violent video games and aggression.
Emotions and attitudes generated in the virtual world do not simply disappear once the game is finished, and the interactive component of video games enhances this lingering effect.
Shooters don’t necessarily make players more violent. But do they make us more cruel?
A prominent example of contested academic terrain is the field of violent video game research, which journalists sometimes find themselves examining and grappling with when reporting on the roots of violent acts and behaviors.
Stats on Games and Gamers
Some 50% of men and 48% of women play video games, while 15% of men and 6% of women say the term “gamer” describes them well. A quarter of all adults (26%) think most video games are a waste of time, while 24% think most games are not a waste of time.
The most frequent gamers who play multiplayer and online games spend an average of 6.5 hours per week playing with others online, and 4.6 hours per week playing with others in person.
Tetris is essentially immortal, and while its 495 million copies are not $60 box copies, it seems almost impossible that anything will ever match its grand total.
Representing multiple generations of gamers, TIME's tech team put more than 150 nominees through a multistage ranking process to compile a cross-section of gaming's best ideas across nearly four decades.
Video Games as Escape
As video games get better and job prospects worse, more young men are dropping out of the job market to spend their time in an alternate reality.
Many Americans have replaced work hours with game play—and ended up happier.