None of us are strangers to what seems like every exasperated mom’s slogan, “turn off the video games or you’re brains gonna rot!”. With around 97% of children and adolescents in the United States ‘gaming’ for at least an hour a day, the future looks bleak… (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24295515/)
Thankfully, there has been an increasing number of studies coming out illustrating some of the many positive effects of gaming, across many different genres. While fast-paced first-person shooters improve things like spatial awareness and memory, slower role-playing or strategy games have been shown to boost problem-solving skills. In fact, a long-term study conducted by the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands correlated such video games with increases in school grades. (https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/amp-a0034857.pdf)
When you really consider it too, it does make sense. Spending time playing, or getting better at video games replicates some of the same cognitive processes seen in practicing an activity or learning. Reaching proficient levels in video games is linked to higher overall retention levels and ability to recall information (https://www.journalofplay.org/sites/www.journalofplay.org/files/pdf-articles/7-1-article-video-games.pdf). Think about it, in order to become proficient, one needs to memorize the game’s intricacies, be able to manage quests or activities, and a whole lot more. Add in a multiplayer element where players are competing against (or with) each other, and now gaming enters a whole new realm of strategy and player interaction that encourages different types of critical thinking.
Unfortunately, not everyone can monetize their gaming skills to become the next big streamer like Fortnite’s Ninja. However, the explosive growth of the gaming and esports industry has allowed us gamers some breathing room. Global video game revenue currently stands at around 200 billion, dwarfing the North American Sports industry which hovers at 75 billion. While less impressive, the Global Esports broke into its first billion of revenue this past year, opening up many opportunities for job-hungry gamers in this pandemic. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/videogames-are-a-bigger-industry-than-sports-and-movies-combined-thanks-to-the-pandemic-11608654990#
With that all being said, it’s important not to disregard some of the more negative commentaries surrounding video games. In some cases encouraging things like addiction and violent behaviors, it’s important, to be honest with your relationship with gaming. At the very least though, nothing has been proven to rot your brain.