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Train your brain

It’s just not true that all video games are as harmful as many would like to think. On the contrary, the world’s most prestigious universities are studying the benefits that video gaming can have for the physical and mental health of gamers of all ages. Here’s 5 that bust the myth!

Away: Journey to the Unexpected

Away: Journey to the Unexpected

To better understand how video games can affect the human brain, German researchers at the Max Planck Institute and St. Edwig-Krankenhaus University Hospital in Berlin conducted a study on two groups of adults, in which they used MRI scans to measure brain volume. One group was allowed to play a 3D platformer (Mario 64) for half an hour every day over two months. The other was not. The results? The "gamer" group saw an increase in grey matter in some parts of the brain responsible for spatial awareness, memory, strategic planning, and even motor reflexes! Although the study used Nintendo’s flagship game, it’s easy to imagine Away: Journey to the Unexpected having the same positive effects.

Away: Journey to the Unexpected

Away: Journey to the Unexpected

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  • Developer:

    Aurélien Regard

  • Publisher:

    Dear Villagers

  • Copyright:

    © Plug In Digital. Made in France.

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Tempest

Tempest

In 2013, Dr. Brian Glass and researchers from the Chemistry and Biology faculty at Queen Mary University in London published a paper explaining how video games, and, more specifically, strategy games like Tempest, could improve players’ "cognitive flexibility". The study, involving 72 volunteers, found that players assigned a strategy game (Starcraft) to play for 40 hours over 6–8 weeks scored better in "cognitive flexibility" tests, in terms of both speed and accuracy. Volunteers were tested on their ability to switch between and adapt to different tasks when solving a problem. The researchers even claim that "cognitive flexibility" is the "keystone of human intelligence"!

Tempest

Tempest

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  • Developer:

    Lion's Shade

  • Publisher:

    HeroCraft

  • Copyright:

    (c) HeroCraft, 2012-2022. All rights reserved.

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Sniper Ghost Warrior 3

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3

What if shooting bad guys could improve your eyesight? This is the question Daphne Batelier and her team of researchers at the University of Rochester asked in 2009. For their study, they compared two groups of players. One group that was familiar with simulation games (The Sims 2, in this case), and the other with experience of action/FPS games like Sniper Ghost Warrior 3, in which players shoot anything that moves. According to the study’s findings, the action/FPS group received a 58% boost in their "contrast sensitivity function" or, in plain English, their ability to see subtle changes in light within an image. The researchers believe that it is the act of locating and aiming at an enemy that trained the players’ eyes. In their view, this genre of game could even be used to correct some visual impairments.

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3

Sniper Ghost Warrior 3

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  • Developer:

    CI Games

  • Publisher:

    CI Games

  • Copyright:

    Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 © 2017 CI Games S.A., all rights reserved. Published and developed by CI Games S.A. Sniper: Ghost Warrior is a trademark of CI Games S.A. Portions of this software are included under license © 2016 Crytek GmbH. This software product includes Autodesk® Scaleform® software, © 2016 Autodesk, Inc. All rights reserved.

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10 Second Ninja X

10 Second Ninja X

The symptoms of dyslexia in children have met their match. In 2013, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Padua presented evidence that playing "fast games" could improve reading ability in children with dyslexia. To reach this conclusion, the Italian scientists had two groups of children aged 7–13 play a video game for 80 minutes per day for 9 days. One group played a fast-paced game (like 10 Second Ninja X, for example), while the other group played a slower-paced game. The children’s reading ability was then tested, and the children who had played the faster game (Rayman Raving Rabids) were able to read both faster and more accurately. The study’s conclusion? Playing a fast game helped children extend their attention span, which is a crucial part of learning to read.

10 Second Ninja X

10 Second Ninja X

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  • Developer:

    Four Circle Interactive

  • Publisher:

    Curve Games

  • Copyright:

    © 2016 Curve Digital

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Back to Bed

Back to Bed

Playing puzzle or logic games, or games that are a bit of both – like Back to Bed – for two hours every week may help slow the natural effects of ageing, such as the decline in mental capacity. At least that’s what a study from the University of Iowa found. It involved 681 participants aged 50+ who were tested on different kinds of video games, including one that had been specially designed for the study. Split into two groups, one played a traditional crossword game, while the other played Road Tour (since renamed Double Decision), a puzzle game in which players need to spot the right image of a car while simultaneously noting the location of particular signs, as an increasing number of distractions appear on the screen. With that game, playing for ten hours delayed the decline in certain cognitive abilities by 7 years. It’s all about getting your training in!

Back to Bed

Back to Bed

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  • Developer:

    Bedtime Digital Games

  • Publisher:

    Bedtime Digital Games

  • Copyright:

    © 2014 Surreal Games ApS, a Bedtime Digital Games ApS company. All rights reserved.

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