If you’re an avid gamer, you may be worried about the supposed rumors of gaming making you dumber.
In fact, you may know a person or two who’ve told you at some point in your life that gaming will rot your brain or make your eyes turn square.
Obviously, these things are a bit extreme but rumors often lead to beliefs for some people, especially if they’re perpetuated enough; this is when it becomes hard to distinguish what’s truthful and what’s not.
Rest assured, we’re going to find out once and for all if video games make you dumber or not.
What are the facts?
According to a study, improvements were seen in the visuospatial, cognition, and attention regions of the brains of people who played games.
This makes sense as games are designed to exploit these exact traits, and the better you are at them, the better a player you’ll become.
Naturally, as with many skills, the more you practice them the better your brain gets at carrying them out.
This says to us that gaming can make us smarter at the things that are specifically advantageous in gaming i.e. intelligence and smartness is a spectrum and we’ll naturally become smarter at the things we need to adapt and overcome problems.
Are there any drawbacks to playing games?
One study suggests that people who were addicted to video games, or who played them excessively, were worse in social situations compared to those who weren’t addicted.
To draw a line under this, and similar to how gaming improves the things needed to be good at the game, it can also impact skills that you’re using less of e.g. social skills, being able to read facial expressions, and understanding the subtleties of communication.
This makes sense from an evolutionary point of view since our brains are designed to be as efficient as possible; basically, use it or lose it is in effect.
Are gamers typically smarter than the average person?
There are no conclusive studies that lead us to believe that people who choose to game are smarter than the average person, though, this article does a great job at highlighting some of the areas that gamers seem to flourish in from a cognitive standpoint.
In fact, it would take a huge study to make this kind of conclusion which simply wouldn’t be viable or worth the expense in most cases.
From an anecdotal point of view, our team has played with a mixture of different people from all kinds of backgrounds and of varying levels of intelligence across a wide variety of video games.
This says to us that video games have a large audience appeal regardless of their cognitive disposition.
In conclusion, playing too many games can make you both smarter and dumber at varying skills and traits.
This is because our brains are designed to get better at things we’re doing more of and will gradually sacrifice those skills you aren’t using as much.
The good news is, this means you can positively influence changes in your brain at any time depending on the things you’re doing.
For example, if you want to get better in social situations then it makes sense to expose yourself to those kinds of situations where you’ll need to interact with people face to face.
If you want to be a smarter gamer then you’ll need to practice constantly to improve those pathways that are designed to give you an advantage in the games you’re playing.
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