Many people claim that video games make you smarter. However, intelligence is a broad concept, and we don’t know what effect video games have on it. Even then, lots of research has shown that video games can have a tangible impact on cognition. Let’s explore these in detail and answer the question, “Do video games make you smarter?”
Video games increase your attention span, improve decision making and problem-solving capabilities in competitive environments, and improve memory and learning. Video games improve the cognitive abilities that society values.
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Read further to learn how video games affect our cognitive capabilities.
Effect of Video Games on Attention
- A study by Green and Bavelier found that action video games enhance attentional control. According to this study, action games involve high-speed gameplay and contain objects that quickly pop in and out of the visual field. They seem to have the broadest benefits to perceptual and attentional abilities.
- Most action games require the player to keep their attention focused on specific objects or entities. These objects or entities can be presented in isolation or amongst other irrelevant distractions. As a result, action games notably boost selective attention, i.e., a person’s ability to focus on one particular stimulus.
- Gamers who play action games can track independently moving objects faster and better than non-video-game players. They demonstrate a higher degree of spatial awareness compared to their non-gamer counterparts.
- A test often used in the screening of ADD found that gamers had faster responses than those that did not play video games. Moreover, they did not sacrifice accuracy for speed. It is also important to note that the test recognized their responses as being anticipatory. That means that gamers relied on prediction rather than reaction. As a result, the study concluded that video game players are faster but not more impulsive than non-gamers.
- A study that compared 27 expert gamers with 30 amateur ones found that action games correlated with higher gray matter volume in the brain.
How Video Games Affect Memory and Learning
Memory is closely related to attention. Therefore, since games improve attention, they would have an impact on memory as well. Let’s take a look at some research.
- A study conducted by McDermott et al. compared the memory of action video game players with non-gamers. They found that action video game players excelled over non-gamers in tasks that involved retaining many memories. They also demonstrated higher precision with visual-spatial short term memory tasks.
- A study done by Ferguson, Cruz, and Rueda found that video game playing correlated positively with accuracy in visual memory. The study hypothesized that this was because video games primed the player to be sensitive to visual cues.
- According to researchers from the University of California, playing 3D video games can boost the formation of memories and improve hand-eye coordination and reaction times.
- A study conducted by Gnambs et al. found that while playing video games can result in a tiny hit to school performance, they don’t affect a child’s intelligence.
- According to some preliminary research, strategy games can increase older adults’ brain functions, and perhaps even protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- A study by Lorenza et al. suggests that gaming trains the brain to be more flexible in updating and monitoring new information. Therefore, it enhances the memory capacity of gamers.
Video Games and Problem Solving
Most video games require a large amount of problem-solving. However, different games require different kinds of problem-solving.
- A longitudinal study conducted in 2013 found that playing strategy games correlated positively with problem-solving abilities and school grades in the following year. That means that adolescents that reported playing more strategy games tended to display better problem-solving ability.
- Scholars at Michigan State University did a study of about 500 12-year-olds. They found that the more kids played video games, the more creative they were in tasks such as drawing pictures and writing stories. However, the use of the internet, cellphones, and computers (aside from playing video games) was unrelated to creativity. Moreover, the increase in creativity was not related to whether the game was violent or non-violent.
- A University of Glasgow trial found that gaming improved communication skills, resourcefulness, and flexibility as video games increase critical thinking and reflective learning ability. These traits are central to graduates and are desirable to employers seeking to hire people out of university.
Video Games and Spatial Intelligence
Most video games, especially 3D ones, require gamers to develop excellent spatial skills to navigate complex environments. Let’s look at some studies that have looked at the relationship between video games and spatial intelligence.
- A 2007 study by Green and Bavalier found that video games significantly increased an inexperienced gamer’s ability to rotate complex shapes in their mind. It also found that subjects trained in action video games showed an increase in their ability to identify a single object, among other distracting ones.
- Another study confirmed that video game players showed a faster response time for easy and difficult visual search tasks than non-gamers.
- Avid action-video-game players were able to identify a peripheral target among many distracting objects more accurately than non-action-video-game players. The researchers showed them a sequence of objects, each of which they presented very briefly. They found that gamers were able to process this visual stream more efficiently than non-gamers. They were also able to track more objects than non-video-game-players.
- An fMRI study by Granek et al. found that extensive gaming alters the network in our brain that processes complex visual tasks. It makes the circuitry more efficient.
How Video Games Impact Decision Making
Video games, especially action games, require quick, on-the-fly decision-making capabilities. Avid gamers can make decisions under pressure. Here are some findings from relevant research.
- A study split participants aged 18 to 25 into two groups. One group played 50 hours of Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament, and the other group played 50 hours of Sims 2. The action game players made decisions 25% faster in a task unrelated to playing video games without sacrificing accuracy.
- One study explored ways to improve traditional training methods that aim to reduce people’s bias and improve their decision-making capabilities. They found that interactive video games improved general decision-making abilities both in the short term and long term. Susceptibility to bias was reduced by 31% in immediate tests, and after three months, the reduction will still more than 23%
Video Games and IQ
What is IQ? How much does it matter?
IQ is short for intelligence quotient. Researchers developed it to measure how well someone can use information and reasoning to answer questions or make predictions. IQ tests measure short-term and long-term memory and how quickly one can solve puzzles and recall information. It helps researchers check whether they are testing for the same “kind” of intelligence. However, it does not encapsulate the complexity of the mind. Other factors, such as social and economic status, influence IQ. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is also a significant contributor to success.
IQ is a predictor of many things, but it does not define intelligence. It is generally a good predictor of a person’s success in life since the more intelligent a person is, the more likely they are to solve problems, learn new things, and get ahead in life. However, it can only predict how well people will do in particular situations, such as science, engineering, and art. Success in life requires more than just intelligence — it depends on persistence, ambition, opportunity, and luck.
Do Video Games Increase IQ?
Games select and filter for higher fluid IQs because games adequately, intellectually challenge us as kids when school was not enough. There are studies that children crave challenge and mastery, which games provide for them, and that creates a feedback loop.
What Does the Research Say?
A study conducted at the University of York found a correlation between young people’s skill at two popular video games (Dota 2 and League of Legends) and high intelligence levels.
The study set up two groups: the first group demonstrated their skill at League of Legends and then took a standard pen-and-paper intelligence test. They split the second group into Dota 2 players and gamers who played shooting games (Destiny and Battlefield 3).
The first group found that MOBA players tended to have higher IQs – a correlation seen in more traditional strategy games such as chess. In the second group, the researchers found that while MOBA players’ performance and IQ remained consistent as they got older, while the shooter game players’ performance declined after their teens.
While games can be good at indicators of a person’s IQ, that does not necessarily mean that they boost IQ.
Does Higher IQ Correlate with Risk of Addiction?
Smarter people are more likely to get addicted to video games because they may not be adequately challenged in school or at work, and video games fulfill this need for them. To recognize and overcome gaming addiction, you need to acknowledge who you are as a gamer. Gamers are, in fact, smarter than the average person. While we value intelligence in society, being smart is not enough to be successful.
Gamers use their high IQ to justify their lack of success, and it becomes an ego boost. Therefore, high intelligence becomes a justification for not needing to work hard and aim for success in life. That is how intelligence leads to avoidance.
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Issues with Video Game Studies
Some factors that influence video game training studies might bring the accuracy of these studies into question. A paper by Boot et al. discussed game training studies that tell the participants about the nature of the study. That can easily lead to bias, as the participants know whether they are in the experimental group or the control group.
For example, let’s assume that a study that aims to test the impact of action games on decision-making recruits gamers and non-gamers. It discloses the nature and aim of the study to the participants. It also tells them whether they will be in the experimental group or the control group.
The experimental group trains on an action game while the control group trains on a strategy game. After training, the researchers administer a test to both groups. It aims to measure the speed and accuracy of their decision-making. Since both groups know the aim of the study, the experimental group believes that they will do well on the test. Therefore, it creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, and they try their hardest. Meanwhile, the control group does not put in as much effort because they think that they are expected to match up to the experimental group. As a result, they don’t try hard and don’t perform too well.
Such an experiment does not control well for placebo. Unfortunately, many video game training studies are structured this way.
Intelligence is complicated and not understood very well. Therefore, it is hard to measure if video games make you smarter. However, we can measure aspects of our cognition and how video games affect it. It is also unclear to what degree video games boost our cognition. That is because they select for people whose attentional, memory, learning, problem-solving, and decision-making abilities are already above average. Despite all that, it is safe to say that gamers tend to rank higher for these cognitive abilities than the rest of the population.
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They found that gamers were able to process this visual stream more efficiently than non-gamers. They were also able to track more objects than non-video-game-players. An fMRI study by Granek et al. found that extensive gaming alters the network in our brain that processes complex visual tasks.Is it scientifically proven that video games make you smarter? ›
Most off-the-shelf video games do little to improve cognitive abilities. But certain well-designed ones can enhance proficiency at skills such as “task switching,” also known as multitasking.Is it scientifically proven that video games are good for you? ›
Gaming is really a workout for your mind disguised as fun. Studies have shown that playing video games regularly may increase gray matter in the brain and boost brain connectivity. (Gray matter is associated with muscle control, memories, perception, and spatial navigation.)Are video games good for your brain? ›
At the same time, those children who played at least three hours of videogames per day showed more brain activity in frontal brain regions that are associated with more cognitively demanding tasks and less brain activity in brain regions related to vision.How video games impact the brain of gamers? ›
Gaming activates dopamine – the brain's reward system
Whenever the brain is expecting a reward from a certain activity, it starts producing dopamine which makes us feel good. This motivates us to repeat the behavior to experience the same rush of pleasure.
The gamers' brains also showed more activity in regions associated with attention and memory. And the researchers saw changes in gamers' brain functions in areas that are involved with vision, attention, problem solving, and memory processing, Chaarani said in an interview.How video games improve children's brains? ›
The study found that children who regularly played video games performed better on two cognitive tasks and showed altered cortical activation patterns in regions of the brain implicated in attention, memory, and visual processing.Do video games impact intelligence? ›
Video games increase intelligence
The results showed that those children who spent an above-average amount of time playing video games increased their intelligence by approximately 2.5 IQ points more than the average.
But many scientists and psychologists find that video games can actually have many benefits – the main one is making kids smart. Video games may actually teach kids high-level thinking skills that they will need in the future. “Video games change your brain,” according to University of Wisconsin psychologist C.Why video games are healthy? ›
But there have been studies that suggest that video games can be beneficial for improving cognitive functions, such as memory, problem-solving, and multitasking. Thus, video games can help you stay mentally sharp, increase your creativity, and even reduce stress.
It's true that some studies have shown certain video games can improve hand–eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and the mind's ability to process information. But too much video game playing may cause problems. It's hard to get enough active play and exercise if you're always inside playing video games.What are the pros and cons of video games? ›
Video games can be used to help improve test scores, teach life and job skills, improve brain function, and encourage physical exercise. Because video game addiction can negatively impact social and physical health, parents should be aware of the symptoms.Are video games good for aging brain? ›
ENHANCED COGNITIVE ABILITY
In fact, a University of California San Francisco study showed significant improvement in cognitive ability, effectively reversing signs of aging in seniors who played 3D video games. Playing video games exercises a gamer's memory, especially short-term memory.
Just 10–20 minutes of violent gaming can increase activity in the brain regions associated with arousal, anxiety, and emotional reaction, while simultaneously reducing activity in the frontal lobes associated with emotion regulation and executive control.Do video games relieve stress? ›
Video games are engaging and enjoyable, which reduces stress. Gaming results in dopamine secretion, which makes you feel good. Video games present a challenge and reward you for overcoming it, which leads to feelings of competence. Gaming can create a flow state, which is similar to meditation.How video games affect mental health? ›
Gaming Causes Poor Emotional Regulation
One of the biggest negative effects of video games can lead you to struggle with regulating your emotions properly. Studies show that people diagnosed with Internet gaming disorder are more likely to be aggressive, depressed, and anxious.
They teach each other how to go from one point to another, collect certain items, and combine different elements of a game to succeed. Video games can help improve a children's memory even when they no longer play the games. Studies show that video games facilitate cognitive changes in the brain.How much gaming is too much? ›
For kids over the age of 6, the American Academy of Pediatrics says no more than 60 minutes on school days and 2 hours on non-school days. Kids under 6 should spend closer to 30 minutes. It's also appropriate for parents to know and approve the games their kids are playing.Do video games make kids happier? ›
Or high stress to lower stress. In fact, research has found video games to be a particularly efficient vehicle for mood management. This is because good games (well-designed games) engage players in a way that meets basic psychological needs as humans.Do video games help kids mental health? ›
While competitive and violent video games have been shown to encourage aggressive behaviour in children and adolescents, cooperative games have been linked to positive effects. Longterm gaming has also been linked to a rise in addictive behaviour and a decline in psychological health.
Studies show that playing games in the classroom can increase overall motivation. Students become more motivated to learn, pay attention, and participate in-class activities. They can also be a great classroom management tool, helping to motivate a class.How do video games affect human behavior? ›
Increased aggression, which could indicate kids learning violence from gaming. Change in behavior, such as increased social isolation or a decline in grades at school. Irritability. Difficulty sleeping.Can games improve memory? ›
The answer is yes, according to the billion-dollar brain-training industry, but research is mixed. Studies evaluating the benefits of brain games and puzzles on memory suggest there may be some varying benefit according to age and the exercises being used.Do video games improve creativity? ›
For example, a Michigan State University study featuring 500 12-year-olds found that “the more kids played video games, the more creative they were in tasks such as drawing pictures and writing stories.”What type of intelligence is video games? ›
Artificial intelligence has been an integral part of video games since their inception in the 1950s. AI in video games is a distinct subfield and differs from academic AI. It serves to improve the game-player experience rather than machine learning or decision making.What are 3 positives of gaming? ›
- They speed up response times. ...
- They encourage teamwork. ...
- They stimulate creativity, focus and visual memory. ...
- They improve strategy and leadership. ...
- They teach languages. ...
- Critical thinking.
It found that kids who played video games for three or more hours a day did better on tasks associated with memory and impulse control than children who didn't play video games at all. The gamers also had higher levels of activity in parts of the brain associated with attention and working memory.How do games help students learn? ›
Educational games in the classroom can bring high levels of engagement to students during the learning process. When students engage in a game, their motivation increases, leading to better participation and the ability to form connections and positive memories of learning.How video games improve social skills? ›
Online video games can allow players to talk to others and make friends at their current ability level even when they are not emotionally or physically able to leave their homes. This can help build the skills and confidence necessary to try it in-person.How video games affect youth? ›
Too much video game can lead to poor social skills, time away from family, school work and other hobbies, lower grades, reading less, exercising less, becoming overweight, and having aggressive thoughts and behaviors.
Moreover, video games affect the brain in the same way as addictive drugs: they trigger the release of dopamine, a chemical which reinforces behavior. For this reason, playing video games can be an addictive stimulus.Is video gaming lazy? ›
Gaming is a sedentary activity
The more hours spent hunched over a screen, the more you are likely to continue that behavior as it will become a habit. Over time your body will become used to it and you'll feel less motivated to do anything besides gaming.
- Increased Confidence.
- Lower Anxiety.
- More Motivation.
- Making New Friends.
- Finding Love.
- Gained Employment.
- Graduated from College.
- Lost Weight.
Video games can improve children's learning, health, and social skills. Both children and adults enjoy playing video games. There's research that shows there's a benefit to playing video games. There's also research that implies video games could lead to disrupted sleep, media addiction, and violent behavior.What video games improve your brain? ›
Action video games, for instance, are highly associated with improving someone's ability to direct their attention and filter specific information. Traditional puzzle games, like Tetris, were associated with increased performance in navigation, perception and recognition.Do video games affect brain cells? ›
Video games can even kill brain cells and interrupt a person's sleep. How do video games affect the brain? Studies show that people playing "shooter games" damage the hippocampus area of their brain. This is the area used for spatial and long-term memories.Do video games help fight dementia? ›
When someone has dementia, many of their cognitive skills are declining. These include some of the skills mentioned in these studies, such as memory and reasoning. And newer research has suggested that gaming may help improve these cognitive skills, especially in people with dementia.How video games affect daily life? ›
The combination of concentration and neurotransmitter surges when playing games helps to strengthen neural circuits, giving the brain a real workout. Video games can improve mental skills, such as: Problem solving and logic. Hand-eye coordination, spatial skills and fine motor coordination.Can video games help with anxiety? ›
Video games can act as distractions from pain and psychological trauma. Video games can also help people who are dealing with mental disorders like anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).Do video games drain your mental energy? ›
Mental or physical exhaustion
If you're affected by gaming fatigue or burnout, you will most likely experience symptoms of exhaustion which include feeling tired, lethargic, irritable, and emotionally drained. You may also experience physical ailments such as headache or feeling physically weak.
Those who play video games themselves are more likely than non-game players to think positively about gaming: 25% of those who play games (and 39% of self-identified gamers) think most video games help develop good problem solving and strategic thinking skills, compared with just 8% of those who do not play games.Are video games good for coping? ›
It is not surprising that many teens who experience low self-esteem and rejection offline may cope by playing video games. Coping through video games allows them to imagine themselves differently and to find pleasure in their daily lives.How many people use video games to relax? ›
The report says that 89% of players say video games provide stress relief, while 88% say video games help improve cognitive skills.Do brain games increase IQ? ›
Unfortunately, there was no evidence to support that claim. Other studies showed that people who do a mere hour of brain training have a slight and temporary bump in their IQ by five points, but only if they believe the training will have an effect on their cognition.Which games increase IQ? ›
- Sudoku. Sudoku is a number placement game that relies on short-term memory. ...
- Lumosity. Lumosity is one of the most established brain training and mental fitness programs. ...
- Crosswords. ...
- Elevate. ...
- Peak. ...
- Happy Neuron. ...
- Braingle. ...
Functional MRI brain imaging analyses found that children who played video games for three or more hours per day showed higher brain activity in regions of the brain associated with attention and memory than did those who never played.What video games have a high IQ? ›
At the top of the list are Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege players, whose collective IQ of 120.3 dominated the results. Coming in at second are Among Us gamers with a 118.9 IQ score, and Minecraft players with 116.3. At the bottom are players of the hit mobile game Angry Birds, with an overall IQ of 95.8.Which game makes your brain stronger? ›
Chess. Playing chess helps in better brain function, improved memory and cognitive abilities, strategic thinking, and increased attention spans.Why are brain games good for your brain? ›
One of the most researched benefits of mental games is the brain's working memory, the part of short-term memory that is concerned with understanding concepts and languages faster. A study had participants train by doing memory-related tasks, and the results showed increased attention inside and outside the lab.Does gaming make your brain bigger? ›
Evidence is also present that these types of video games can increase the size and efficiency of brain regions related to visuospatial thinking. For example, the right hippocampus, again, is enlarged in long-term gamers and also volunteers following a video game training program.
Video games increase intelligence
The results showed that those children who spent an above-average amount of time playing video games increased their intelligence by approximately 2.5 IQ points more than the average.
However, the benefits of videogames include improved powers of concentration, creativity, memory, languages and teamwork. Videogames can make it easier to learn educational contents and develop cognitive skills.What are the mental benefits of video games? ›
Playing video games can help people better cope with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).Does gaming affect life? ›
The combination of concentration and neurotransmitter surges when playing games helps to strengthen neural circuits, giving the brain a real workout. Video games can improve mental skills, such as: Problem solving and logic. Hand-eye coordination, spatial skills and fine motor coordination.Is gaming good or bad for people? ›
Studies show that excessive gaming can lead to poor emotional regulation. Poor emotional regulation contributes to mood problems such as anxiety, depression, and aggression.What game do the smartest people play? ›
“Research in the past has pointed to the fact that people who are good at strategy games such as chess tend to score highly at IQ tests. “Our research has extended this to games that millions of people across the planet play every day.”Do gamers have better reflexes? ›
Video games can also lead to enhanced eye-hand coordination and reflex responses, as well as increased contrast sensitivity, which is important in night driving when vision is reduced.What was Albert Einstein's IQ? ›
His performance beats those of physicists Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein, who were both estimated to have IQs around 160.