Good news for gamers out there: studies conducted by scientists around the world have proven that playing video games has positive effects on your health. Thanks to the mainstream exposure of the gaming industry, medical professionals have taken interest in researching its impact on the mind and body, and the results are promising.
There are so many studies on video games’ improvement of cognitive function that saying they’re good for your brain is a no-brainer. There are the obvious surface effects: flexing your strategic muscles makes you better at strategy, doing math makes you better at math. The kind of in-depth mathematics and theory-crafting that goes into hardcore competitive Pokémon and MMORPGs (entire forums are dedicated to algebraic debate) should obviously yield leaps in mental acuity.
At the University of Texas at Austin a study participants played 40 hours of The Sims and Starcraft. At the Max Planck Institute they played Super Mario 64. At the IMAGEN Consortium they played whatever they wanted.
In every case, the more you played video games, the healthier your brain was. More specifically, greater gaming rates correlated positively to a thickening of the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum, the parts of the brain that relate to spatial awareness and navigation, strategy, memory, and motor skills of the hands and hand-eye coordination. Not only adults benefit, but children who play stimulating action games develop these regions of the brain quicker, and kids who play more strategic games learn better problem-solving and math skills.
The University of Rochester has found playing video games, particularly action games such as shooters, increases your mental reflexes. Action gamers make quicker decisions without losing accuracy – they’re not just panicking and making illogical decisions but retaining their tactical abilities. Anyone who’s been a raid healer can attest to this, as a boss fight can put you in a triage situation where you have a split second to decide who out of 10-40 people to save and what spell to do it with, all while running across an arena to avoid any number of environment hazards and deadly projectiles.
While you might not be a combat medic in real life (though real-life vets attribute quicker recovery from PTSD to video games), this kind of quick decision making and staying calm under pressure benefits daily tasks such as driving and cooking.
So if anyone tells you that playing games rots your brain, direct them to these studies that conclusively prove the opposite.