Videogames arouse all kinds of emotions in who plays them, as well as judgments and prejudices across who does not. Usually they are associated with violent or antisocial behaviour even though numerous studies have shown for years the advantages of video games for those who practice them. It is the case of an analysis performed by a group of psychologists and recently presented by the BBC, which demonstrates how video games can change (for the better) the way our minds work.
Breaking negative stereotypes around videogames
The study begins by refuting some stereotypes such as that video games are associated with a minority of people with problems to socialize. In fact, more than 1.2 billion people around the planet will be entertaining with them in 2016, representing a substantial business over 100 billion pounds.
In addition, it shows how the aggressiveness that is supposedly inherent in this type of entertainment does not depend on the games themselves, but on the social and family environment of the player, as well as on the mental health of the individual itself.
Advantages of “practising videogaming”
Some of the main benefits of playing video games are:
- Improves motor skills, very evident in the case of simulators or serious games which professionals such as surgeons use to practice their professional skills. The Da Vinci simulator, which we can see in action in this video, is an example.
- Improves visual skills, particularly in terms of visual amplitude and activation of peripheral vision regarding non-players. Aircraft or race pilots, and drivers of all kinds can improve these skills through video games of exploration and action role such as Bloodborne, Dragon Age and Fallout.
- Growth of the brain: A study conducted in Germany, where fMRI technology (functional magnetic resonance imaging) was used to study the brain of subjects while playing Super Mario 64 DS, determined that, after two months, three areas of the brain had grown in the study participants —the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus and the right cerebellum— resulting in noticeable improvements in their navigation and motor control capabilities.
- Detention of the deterioration associated with aging: No one doubts that exercising is healthy at any age, and that people who stay fit and trained have more options for a better quality of life in old age than those who lead a sedentary life. Similarly, video games are training systems that help the mind to tone up or even recover after some cognitive impairment. This is the conclusion of a scientific study at the University of California with NeuroRacer, a cars video game for single player that detected a clear improvement in the working capacity and attention span of retired players after just 12 hours of play.
How to apply these skills to the workplace
Playing videogames is not only fun, entertaining, rewarding or social. We can bring the development of new skills and capabilities to the workplace. Here are some advantages associated with two popular games: Starcraft, a strategy real-time science fiction game, and Super Mario Bros., a classic within the platforms genre:
Why playing Starcraft?
- Plan an attack and defense strategy depending on the map and enemies
- Modification of the strategy depending on what happens
- Resource administration
- Decision making in real time
- How to learn from yours and others mistakes
- Gain flexibility and resilience to stress or failure
Why playing Super Mario Bros?
- Learn to think ahead
- Cultivate patience and know how to exploit the right time, when it comes
- Manage time and differentiate between important and urgent
- Learn to live with frustration, and believe in overcoming step by step
- Improve the creativity capacity, teamwork or delegation skills
- Face new situations out of your comfort zone
These are the principles that methodologies such as gamification apply to business environments seeking to improve the knowledge, attitudes and skills of employees. If people knew the benefits of participating in this type of gamified programmes not only to improve their performance in the company but to develop their personal brain capabilities, perhaps their personal motivation and desire to get involved would increase.
To learn more:
BBC, “Horizon: How video games can change your brain”. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-34255492
Multitasking After 60: Video Game Boosts Focus, Mental Agility. http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2013/09/10/218892225/multitasking-after-60-video-game-boosts-focus-mental-agility