7 surprising ways video games make you a better person (according to science)
Fallout pip boy

Modern day research into the effects of video games is indeed jam-packed with tiny nuggets of info on how they alter our thoughts and behaviour. And guess what? Most of it is really positive.

Although opinion is generally divided on the subject, there is a noticeable trend in the field: video games will make you into an intellectual super soldier.

Okay, so maybe they don’t quite have that effect, but there’s an array of skills and cool effects that regular controller (or mouse) bashing will help to evolve. Such as…

Improved brain efficiency

Tetris

Tetris, one of the oldest games still is general circulation, is a source of eternal satisfaction, and occasionally, crazed aggravation. Both insanely frustrating and compelling, the block-building arcade game’s influence has even spread into the world of psychological medicine, inspiring the aptly named brain state ‘Tetris syndrome’.

Studies have shown that repetitive Tetris play develops new neurological networks within the brain, and reduces the intake of glucose while sacrificing no efficiency. Basically, as you play the game, your brain starts to work faster and faster until eventually you’re cutting lines at a super-human rate.

Playing Tetris can, literally, change the way that you view the world by exercising your brain like a stress ball.

Making you a better driver

Mario 64

According to a study conducted by leading psychiatrist and PhD wielding Jurgen Gallinat, there is a clear correlation between playing Super Mario 64 and “fine motor skills”. Working with a control group, the study tested the skill levels of gamers and non-gamers after regular Mario gameplay, with the resounding result being an increase in spatial awareness and driving ability in the former.

Also, the increase in the reported areas were even more significant in the cases where the subject showed a strong desire to play the game.

So if you enjoy playing video games, the chances are, you’re a brilliant driver, hence Lewis Hamilton’s near-perfect record on Dead or Alive 3.

Keeping your priorities straight

Gears of War seriously 3

We’re all guilty of spending a little bit too much time on video games, and those long hours slugging for that last achievement or trophy may even have seemed pointless at times. But a study published in the journal of Proceedings of the Royal Society shows that those hours spent were far from wasted.

Roughly speaking, regular gaming helps to develop you sense of priorities, meaning that your mental risk-reward system will be fine-tuned in comparison to a non-gamer. In other words, the chances that you’ll spend far too long on a simple task, only to be disappointed with the reward, are much lower.

We’re looking at you, Seriously 3.0 receivers. Stay strong.

Enhancing social skills and compassion

Halo Reach

Published in the journal Communication Research, two major studies into video games’ effects on social behaviour suggested that playing Halo: Reach and TimeSplitters will increase your tendency to help your fellow man and react positively in social situations.

They also found that players with good teammates had a larger inclination to give money out to their teammate without expecting any reward, so maybe Red Nose Day should just be a day about playing video games.

The teammate thing we totally get though. After being completely let down by five randoms on a game of Call of Duty, it’s hard to imagine ever wanting to participate in any kind of good will.

Contributing to medical breakthroughs

Surgeon Simulator

Far from the horrific confines of Surgeon Simulator (we still can’t get the hang of using that scalpel) the world of video gaming has a resume of medical accolades that it can call on. On multiple occasions, gamers have helped to decipher some of the medical world’s most pressing questions and mysteries.

Just a few years ago, players of the specifically designed game Foldit were able to decode the structure of an enzyme that contributes to the development of the AIDS disease, an answer that had eluded doctors for years.

Step aside Marie Curie, Xbox is the new world-saver.

Improving multi-tasking

StarCraft

A study at the University of London – which, might we add, struggled to recruit enough male participants that didn’t already play more than two hours of gaming per week – showed that the tactical sci-fi game StarCraft boosts the ability of players to cope with multiple tasks at once.

We’re not just talking about making a pot of tea and whistling at the same time. We mean to say that playing this game develops your general ability to undertake and mentally manage two tasks at once.

Promoting a positive attitude… to more gaming

Vault Boy thumbs up

Among other things, one major trend in the psyche of gamers appears to be their enthusiastic belief in the medium of gaming. A report titled Gaming and Gamers that tried to define the ‘gamer’ label happened to discover that people who identified as ‘gamers’ were much more likely to believe in the positive effects of the hobby.

Shocking, we know.

So as you continue to play video games, you’re inclination to play more video games gets stronger, and your overall enjoyment levels increase. Essentially, the more you play, the more you’re going to love it, and that can only be a good thing.