It’s almost become cliché in the United States for tabloids and the current government to blame video games when something bad happens. Due to the stigma of users being violent and socially isolated that has surrounded video gaming, fuelled by the uninformed, many people see it as an unhealthy entertainment medium.
To the surprise of no one who is part of the gaming community, the vast majority of legitimate studies came back with results in favor of video gaming. That said, the specific genres of games that proved to be the most beneficial to users do come as a surprise.
Billed as the worst, proven to be the most beneficial
As you would assume, the action/horror genre is always cited as the cause of bad or antisocial behavior, and yet, through studies, they have been found to be the most beneficial. In a paper penned by Eichenbaum, Bavelier, and Green (2014), it was found that certain games do promote improvement across a wide variety of cognitive abilities, with action games being the best.
Their paper added to the growing body evidence – which has continued to grow in the years since – that games in the action genre are so good at promoting attentional, cognitive, and perceptual abilities that they can be used for practical purposes and not just entertainment. In the modern space of gaming, titles can be used to: battle the declining mental capacities that come with age; determine a model on which to base the teaching of difficult tasks; and promote job-related skills, according to the paper.
Also good for mental wellbeing, not just cognitive abilities
Of course, video games are created for the entertainment of the user. While it’s nice to see that certain game genres also help to boost other aspects of your brain, people mainly seek out games for their enjoyment, and sometimes more. It may sound escapist – which, to a certain extent, it is – but role-playing games have been found to deliver many emotional benefits, as well as some elements of skill.
It has been established that video games can make you more skillful, social, creative, active, and reduce stress. The key is that, in RPGs, you take on the role of another being, and are rewarded by seeing the character, which effectively and fantastically personifies yourself, reaches its full potential – often as an almighty being. Whether you’re playing as a Viking warrior, an intergalactic being, or even as an orc, the simultaneous strive for success, and eventual progress works very favorably for your mental wellbeing.
Perhaps focused brain training games aren’t so good
Particularly on mobile devices, brain training games have become very popular for their claims to enhance cognitive function while having fun and playing games quickly. While it is possible to enhance cognitive function through gaming, the brain training genre of games has been found to be less effective in their primary goal than the aforementioned genre of action games.
After completing a study that directly compared brain games with action titles, it was found, in terms of improving cognitive function, the action genre ultimately outperformed the brain training genre. It was added that, as video games involve active forms of learning, they are more effective at brain development than those forms of passive learning – such as user-led activities like study and the presentation of information.
Time and time again, it has been proven that certain genres of video games can help you to improve your cognitive abilities and other skills, making the modern world of gaming more than just for entertainment.