Video Games Really Do Improve Decision Making
June 30, 2013

Video Games Really Do Improve Decision Making

Video games have been attacked from all sides, from making people lazy to causing violence within children and young adults. It is rare to see research that scientifically says that it will improve a person’s overall life. New research headed up by Greg Appelbaum at Duke University shows that gamers are able to take in information and make decisions better than those that are non-gamers.

The test they performed was actually very simple. They took two different groups of people, gamers and non-gamers. Each person was required to look at a picture for a short amount of time and had to recall what that object was after a longer period of time. In every test, the gamers outperformed the non-gamers. Researchers considered multiple different ideas of why this could be, but they are unsure about what exactly makes these gamers outperform the non-gamers.

Although memory is involved, it is not likely that the gamers have better memory because not all games require the retention of information to outperform other. Researchers proposed though that it actually might be the gamers’ ability to predict and choose outcomes better than the non-gamers.

As a gamer myself, this makes a lot of sense when you really think about it. When playing a first person shooter, you must be able to anticipate a player’s movements and predict what their plan is while simultaneously implementing your own plan. A gamer must know everything that is happening around him and so being able to see everything and notice all movement happening in your peripheral vision is a requirement if you plan to survive in any first person shooter.

Any strategy game requires a person to be able to act fast, but plan and organize even faster. As you build an army, you must be able to anticipate what the enemy may be building as well. You must plan out what upgrades you will need to make and the best time to do those upgrades, all while being able to maintain a well-structured defense in case of attack.

There are many different things that are going on in a gamers mind while playing, and it is this constant anticipation that builds a players skills and decision making skills. As you play different players, you are able to learn from your mistakes and improve your ability to anticipate movements.

A person’s mind seems to create an algorithm, or some form of program, that is able to predict what happens next within any situation that it is put in. As we see research like this, it gives gamers even more reason to enjoy what we love. The continuous barrage of negative comments by politicians and how they believe that video games are the cause of violence has brought a dark cloud over video games. This information is a shimmering light through those clouds and gives hope to gamers as they hope that their games don’t become limited by legislation, even though there is no creditable evidence that violence stems from games and not the other way around.

Image Credit: ollyy / Shutterstock

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