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Games, A Time Killer Or A Mind Sharpening Tool?

There is enough evidence to suggest how games play a role in advancing cognitive skills, hand-eye coordination, spatial and problem-solving skills

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Games have been played since time immemorial, with the earliest gaming tools dating back to 5000 years ago. Having evolved from the apes, in the likeliest of circumstances we probably began chasing each other and playing such games, even before we began speaking a language.  Fast-forward through to the 21st Century and we have seen the development of some of the most iconic board games, video games and then have recently ushered into the digital era. What an exhilarating time to be alive; right from advanced gaming consoles, to outstanding games on hand-held devices, to some of the most captivating board-games in history and exhilarating card games, we have certainly come a long way.

Roll The Dice

Upon entering the world of high-tech gaming, there has been much skepticism around new-age video and digital games, suggesting that these serve to be time-killers, more than anything else. However, before exploring the challenges, it is imperative to lay the foundation through scientific evidence. When it comes to action video games, a 2014 study by the University of Rochester showcased a positive connection between action video games and learning, among players. Pertaining to card-games and puzzles, in another 2014 study conducted by the researchers at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute found that activities that stimulate the mind such as card games were associated with positive cognitive scoring and larger brain volumes. There are other numerous studies, research papers and enough evidence out there highlighting the association between higher cognitive scores and gaming.

Solving crossword puzzles, other kinds of puzzles or playing strategic card games, have also been linked to a reduced dementia risk (New England Journal of Medicine Study) among the elderly. Developing increased attention span, patience, relaxing with family or friends as well as learning to deal with losing, are some of the other benefits related to gaming.

Games are popular primarily because they are thoroughly entertaining and fun, while they also stimulate the mind, and many encourage socializing with family and friends and connecting with like-minded individuals online. The 2017 review article - ‘Neural Basis of Video Gaming: A Systematic Review,’ reflected findings of how video games not only impacted the activity but also the structure of the brain – positively impacting the size and functionality of the parts of the brain. Here, the researchers also discovered that video gaming can be addictive. 

Having got a sense of the evidence out there on the matter, it is time to dive deep into the mind of a gamer to understand how and why the criticism around gaming, in society, stems. 

The Blind Spot

Many seasoned digital gamers must have experienced that it is easy to lose a sense of time while playing a highly engaging game. In his book, ‘Death by Video Game,’ author Simon Parkin referring to video games, he mentions that it is ‘a form of entertainment whose impact on its fans is often unusually intense’. It isn’t difficult to see why, over the ages, digital games have garnered a nefarious reputation for gamers often edging towards mania for the games and inadvertently leading to obsession. 

Having mentioned that, it also becomes essential to understand that digital gaming scenario just doesn’t consist of games that belong to one genre. Today, there are a plethora of options to indulge in, right from captivating puzzles to engaging card games, which stimulate the mind and, allow enjoying and raking in the cognitive benefits. As the ancient Greek philosopher – Epicurus, has rightly said - “Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance” and exercising moderation is indeed a key skill that gamers across the board must possess to leverage the benefits of gaming.

Winner Takes All

Games can be employed to develop soft-skills in a fun way, which in all probability also influences all aspects of life by enhancing competency. There is enough evidence to suggest how games play a role in advancing cognitive skills, hand-eye coordination, spatial and problem-solving skills among gamers. Games are also a way to spend time well and bond with friends and family, in addition to serving as an excellent means of expanding social circles by interacting with like-minded individuals through online games. 

With the evidence at hand and history as the witness, games indeed prove to be a mind-sharpening tool, without a doubt.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tags assigned to this article:
games gaming hand-eye coordination mind sharpening tool

Amin Rozani

The author is a Co-Founder and MD of The Spartan Poker, an online poker gaming website.

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