Although parents frequently deride video games as harmful for their children, multiple studies have found that's not quite the case. Despite increased fears of exposure to video games making children lazy and inactive, science has found a direct correlation between intelligence and video games, and it's not a coincidence.
Professor Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester affirmed that playing video games improves cognitive skills.
Prior research by our group and others has shown that action gamers excel at many tasks. In this new study, we show they excel because they are better learners. And they become better learners by playing the fast-paced action games.
The educational benefits of games don't stop, or even start, with puzzle or brain games. Genres like action games and RPGs contribute to the growth and development of a wide range of skills, from problem-solving to logic to reasoning and planning skills, and even social skills.
Millennials grew up with these video games. According to a Zogby poll, 57 percent of Millennials play video games at least three times a week. They're integrated into our lives and into our hobbies. They've crossed barriers previously understood as immovable — 52 percent of gamers are women, despite previous stereotypes about who gamers are. Gamers aren't antisocial young men in basements anymore; they're an entire generation.
And this isn't a bad thing. As Millennials replace their older counterparts in the workforce, they're bringing with them a new and unique set of skills that earlier generations couldn't develop in quite the same way. Seven in 10 gamers, according to the Zogby poll, feel that video games help them develop problem-solving skills, something that employees can easily carry into the workplace.
What's more, games designed specifically to train the brain, such as those on NeuroNation, have been shown to improve memory and other vital brain functions. With the rise of technology, those of us who are skilled and well-versed in the skills that video-gaming teach are well-prepared for a modern world.
Science has established that what and how you learn affects your brain development. A famous study found that London taxi drivers had larger-than-average hippocampi due to the process of memorizing the streets of the expansive city. With video-gaming, that kind of massive intake of knowledge covering a wide variety of topics is more readily available to any Millennial, as anyone who's played an interaction-heavy RPG can attest.
We're learning more and learning faster with video games, allowing us to adapt quickly to new environments and needs as they come. This makes Millennials more creative workers with a wider array of skills that they can bring to the table.
Further, according to game designer and author Jane McGonigal, gaming may be beneficial for our mental health as well, keeping Millennials afloat in hard times. According to McGonigol,
[We get] a real sense of optimism in our abilities and our opportunities to get better and succeed, and more physical and mental energy to engage with difficult problems. That is actually the physiological and psychological state of game play.
Our brains are like muscles, and games help us exercise our mental skills in order to keep them sharp. Millennials are more stimulated, more prepared and more capable than any previous generation. When I began my first job as a young teenager, I found myself teaching my boss how to use a computer program — one that she had been using for years, and I had only just been introduced to.
I was more prepared than she was to learn and adapt to a new program, more capable of searching for features and figuring out what the program should be capable of doing.
This kind of adaptive knowledge stems from years of stumbling through new systems and new gameplay designs, from learning how to walk in Super Mario Party to identifying which weapon is most effective against a tank in Call of Duty, to memorizing which skills are most effective against electric-type Pokémon.
These kinds of intellectual skills are critical to our futures, and to our ability to innovate and create. Because we are the gaming generation, we are also the creative generation.
Millennials are taking on the world, and we're doing it with the help of our beloved video games.