Your Video Game Addiction Isn't Procrastination; It's Actually Making You Smarter

Next time your parents tell you to put down the Playstation controller and pick up a textbook – tell them you ARE studying. Albeit, in a different way.

I’ve always assumed that video games were helping me. I mean, if I could ward off entire populations of aliens on the hardest difficulty imaginable, I figured it would at least have SOME degree of real life application.

Well, after doing a little bit of research, I’ve found that my video game playing days – or, technically, years – have not been fruitless whatsoever.

In fact, they could’ve actually made me smarter. This is great because I played entirely too many video games growing up.

There’s a few different ways that video games can improve our cognitive ability, and they aren’t simply limited to our ability to put off important sh*t until the last minute, and still get it down.

Take a look at some of the big ones I’ve attached below.

Video games help aid basic problem-solving tasks.

According to ABC News, video game playing improves one type of reasoning, called fluid intelligence, which is essentially basic problem-solving.

According to James Paul Gee of the University of Wisconsin, video games encourage users to find “new ways” of hurdling obstacles. “Like any problem solving that is good for your head, it makes you smarter,” Gee noted.

In a separate study, conducted by the University of Rochester, participants of one experiment were directed to count the numbers of squares that flashed on a screen for one-twentieth of a second. Video gamers scored higher by 13 percent.

Video games cultivate faster reaction times.

According to Science Daily, the answer to what makes video games so mentally beneficial lies within the aspect of cognitive flexibility. Scientists at Queen Mary University in London explored the topic further.

As they explain, cognitive flexibility is not a static trait, which means that over time – through strengthening procedures – it can improve. Likewise, without application of certain cognitive tasks, it can decline.

Video games are one way to actively “work out” your cognitive flexibility. However, the type of game you play is key. Games that are more passive, or employ simulation -- such as the Sims (used in the experiment at hand) -- are far less profitable with regard to improvements in cognitive flexibility when compared to, say, StarCraft (a fast-paced arcade style game).

Video games exercise your brain.

As mentioned briefly above, the type of games you play is key. The Public Library of Science did an experiment testing five different “styles” of games. Some were virtual life simulators, some were action based, others were mellowed out strategy-based games.

After months of “training,” or basically playing and attempting to master the game, researchers found that the action-based games produced the best results.

These results included that “people who had played the action game had improved their capacity to track multiple objects in a short span of time, while hidden object, match three objects and spatial memory game players improved their performance on visual search task.”

Video games make you more coordinated.

According to authors Granek, Gorbet and Sergio; “reorganization of the brain’s cortical network” in young men with extensive video game experience show superior affinity for visuomotor tasks.

In their experiment, using a sample size of 13 20-something-year-old men with at least four hours of video game experience over the past three years, the results that followed were staggering.

Using fMRI to detect the sections of the brain activated and strengthened from video game use, researchers concluded that less-experienced gamers improved in the parietal cortex of the brain, which is associated with simple hand-eye coordination.

On the other hand, experienced gamers improved in the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with complex cognitive activity.

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