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Video Games Will Make Us Smarter

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Live Transcript
  • Can video games create a more peaceful world?

    Clip: Debaters Elias Aboujaoude and Asi Burak discuss the positive and negative social effects of video games.

  • Chairman Robert Rosenkranz introduction on video games

    Clip: Chairman Robert Rosenkranz introduces the topic, discussing the economic effects that video games have had on the labor market, and the potential they have for the future.

  • Can video games replace text books?

    Clip: Debaters Walter Boot and Daphne Bavelier discuss the possibilities for measuring and gaining intelligence based on digital learning.

  • What is the relationship between engagement and information retention?

    Clip: Debaters discuss the effect that video games can have on information retention.

Debate Details

Video Games Will Make Us Smarter - Debate

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?

The Debaters

For the motion

Daphné Bavelier

Daphne Bavelier

Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Geneva & Co-Founding Advisor, Akili Interactive

Daphne Bavelier is an internationally-recognized expert on how humans learn. She received a PhD in brain and cognitive sciences from MIT and trained... Read More

Asi Burak Debater For The Motion

Asi Burak

Chairman, Games for Change & CEO, Power Play

Asi Burak is a veteran of the videogame and tech industries, and an award-winning executive producer. He is currently the CEO of Power Play and chairman... Read More

Against the motion

Elias Aboujaoude

Elias Aboujaoude

Director, Stanford University OCD and Impulse Control Disorders Clinics & Author, Virtually You

Elias Aboujaoude, MD, MA, is a psychiatrist and author based at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he is clinical professor of Psychiatry... Read More

Walter Boot

Walter R. Boot

Director, Florida State University Attention and Training Lab

Walter R. Boot is an associate professor of psychology at Florida State University and director of the university’s Attention and Training Lab.... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Playing action video games can improve cognitive skills like problem solving, the ability to focus, and reaction times—gains that can carry over into other areas of life.
  • Innovators are creating video games that educate and promote social change for the better.
  • Despite their reputation, research shows that there is no causal link between video games and aggression.  In fact, video games have been used to fight mood disorders like depression.
  • Game-based learning should be embraced by adults and children alike to both garner interest in learning new topics and to help students succeed in an increasingly connected and digital universe. 
Against The Motion
  • Video games are not making us smarter.  Small improvements are offset by the atrophying of other areas of brain functioning and the stimulation of compulsive tendencies.
  • The observed cognitive gains from gaming have not been found to be transferable to related tasks or cognitive performance overall.
  • Gaming can become all-consuming, leading to social isolation and the shirking of real-life responsibilities.
  • Video games rely on binary win/lose mechanisms for evaluating success. An over-reliance on them as learning tools could impede the development of skills necessary to navigate real-world challenges.  

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The Research

The Research

The Brain-Boosting Power of Video Games

July 1, 2016

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.

Technology Consumption and Cognitive Control: Contrasting Action Video Game Experience with Media Multitasking

This study shows that media consumption can have complex and counter-intuitive effects on attentional control.

Action Video Game Training for Cognitive Enhancement

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.

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