Not Rocket Science: Game More, Study Less, Watch Grades Drop

It’s well known that if you take the time to study, you will probably do well in school. Anything that distracts you from studying, therefore, is likely to affect your grades – including your favorite video games.

Thus, the conclusion of a study on academic performance published by the National Bureau of Economic Research should come as no great surprise. What is interesting, however, is how they decided to go about measuring it.

Ars-Technica looked at the study, and while they found it informative, they worry about the mainstream media headlines that will inevitably follow:

Video games hurt GPAs!! Film at eleven…

The NBER study followed 210 students at Berea College, which was choosen because it eliminated many distracting and variable factors from student’s lives. Roommates were randomly assigned, nightly homework and attendance is strictly controlled, outside jobs are prohibited, and the college is located in a dry (alcohol-free) town.

Subjects were divided up into two categories. Those who had access to a video game system of some kind in their dorm room, and those who didn’t. Gamers were equally divided to differentiate between those who brought their own console, and those who’s roommates did.

For every 3.5 hours of study for those without access to games, those with access spent 2.84 hours studying, and 0.66 hours gaming. Researchers noted that this led to a drop of 0.24 points in GPA for those who brought their own gaming rigs, and 0.13 point drop for those who’s roommates had a console. While gender affected the proportion of students who brought their own console, it seemed to have no effect on the study habits of those with access to one.

No control group was used to see what happened when the students just spend 0.66 hours of study time per 3.5 doing anything else other than studying. The researchers took the results and concluded that for every hour spent studying, GPA increased 0.36 points.

CM: The study’s conclusion is pretty obvious. If you want to increase your GPAs, spend more time studying. Clearly if you’re gaming instead of studying, that will affect your marks.

The study makes no mention of what happens if you manage to get a lot of studying AND gaming done.

– Glad he’s got his B.Sc. and no longer needs to balance gaming vs. studying, GP Correspondent Colin “Jabrwock” McInnes

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  1. 0
    Tanuki says:

    Funny, I’ve been playing games since I was four, and not only am I in honors classes, I’m in the National Honors Society and have been accepted into all four colleges I applied to—including UMBC, an honors university in Maryland. The only thing that video gaming cost me was my dating life…poor, single girl me.

  2. 0
    Kincyr ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Jack Thompson

    Person A: This is your brain. This is Jack Thompson’s brain. Any questions?

    Person B: I have one; Where’s Jack’s Thompson’s?

    Person A: Exactly.

    ??…Ace beats Jack?

  3. 0
    Mutantemeco says:

    @Wack Thompson

    This is your brain.

    This is your brain on christianity.

    **cue photo of Jack Thompson crucified on a cross made of televisions looping uncensored Manhunt 2 executions over and over again**

  4. 0
    Jay says:

    For the record, to the people who think you can just get linear gains for more study vs. less, you’re wrong. You’re going to find diminishing returns for increased work once you hit the point where you understand the work. Eventually, you reach a point where the decreased productivity due to overwork exceeds the gains in understanding from extra study, and extra studying actually decreases your academic performance and understanding of the subject matter.

    Process Control and Analysis isn’t something most Lawyers understand.

  5. 0
    Alex G. says:

    Hey Dennis, do you ever consider just slapping something at Jack with his constant slander? I mean, it’d be easy to do something, or do you get as much enjoyment out of proving everything he says incorrect as we do? =P

  6. 0
    Austin Lewis ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Jack Thompson.

    There’s an old saying, the exact wording of which eludes me at the moment, but it is essentially “best to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool then to open it and remove all doubt”.

    You should tattoo this on every inch of your body.
    EVERY time you open your mouth you prove to us all that you are, indeed, a fool.

  7. 0
    aresil ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    So, Mr. Thompson, I have no brain just because I play an hour on my xbox everyday? That doesn’t explain why we’re the ones posting intelligent, adult responses to stories, while you resort to the tactics of an 8 year old.

    The sooner you lose your ‘I’m right, You’re wrong, I’ll sue if you say otherwise’ attitude, the better. As has been said, you’re nothing but a bully, and a tinpot dictator who, so far has failed to convince people of anything other than the fact that you obviously paid off the person conducting your pysch evaluation.

    Surely you can see that this does you no favours other than ruining what is left of your reputation as an Attorney?

  8. 0
    Mr. Blond ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    There is also a study that shows video games can lead to increased scores on IQ tests, due to increased problem-solving and strategic abilities.

  9. 0
    GamersRyno ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I am, and have been, a video gamer and now work in the industry. In highschool I had a 4.6 GPA (honors classes got me above a 4.0), started college at age 16, studied pre-medicine and chemistry in college, and had a 3.90 GPA in college.
    By the way, Jack, I am more qualified to describe the brain’s anatomy and physiology than you. 😉

  10. 0
    hayabusa75 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wow Jack, that was hilarious. Did you come up with that all by yourself? You truly are “too clever by half”.

    Seriously, you’re (supposedly) a grown-ass man. Act like it, why don’t you?

  11. 0
    BearDogg-X says:

    @ Jack Thompson:

    Act your age, not your shoe size.

    I studied for like 5-10 minutes right before I went to bed, and got A’s and B’s. Even aced calculus.

    Practice what you preach, assclown: Grow up, get a life, and get a new cause while you’re at it since yours has been lost for the last eight years.

  12. 0
    DavCube ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    …..What is Jack Thompson, 8? Does he think the only way he can ‘get through’ to gamers is by dumbing down to the level of semi-infant child?

  13. 0
    Jay says:

    Why do you people leave messages for JT? He’s a bully. He’s obviously not interested in discussion; If he was, he’d realise that if he had a strong arguement that video games were evil, he’d be able to convert moral gamers to his cause by simply speaking undeniable moral truth instead of factual inaccuracies and slanderous quarter-truths.

  14. 0
    Mlucky says:

    this stuff pisses me off
    anyone who has had a science class in public school should know you need a control group
    this study is obliviously engineered on some level to attack gaming because of the lack of a simple control group.

    no study conducted by a professional should fall so short of scientific standards

  15. 0
    Jay says:

    The study may show this, but I think it’s missing other important aspects. Despite what people think, if you’re on the edge, and your future is constantly on the line because you’re in a hardcore program, grades aren’t all there is to it.

    When I was in school, the biggest thing I learned was, I had to balance. If I didn’t have any balance in my life, if I only studied day in day out, I’d come very close to suicide or homocide(I actually learned philosophy over many hours in one term, because working or being in class 16 hours a day 7 days a week was driving me to the breaking point). If I relaxed every once in a while, kicked back with a couple good beers and some video games with friends, suddenly, even if my grades were lower, my retention was higher, and my stress levels were exponentially lower, and there wasn’t a huge chance of me dropping out and becoming a disgruntled gas station attendant.

  16. 0
    kurisu7885 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Jack Thompson

    ……. is that the best you can do? Sad, for a grown man to behave in such a disgraceful manner.

    I should say physically grown, as your mind sure hasn’t.

  17. 0
    Arkly says:

    Yea, I’m pretty sure that this is Jack being funny (kinda hard to believe)

    Though, I am very smart for my age (4 languages, and taking college classes at the age of 15) I spend much more time playing video games than I do studying.

    Infact, I’ve never had to study for a test, yet I’ve never gotten bellow a B.

    Heh, go figure.

  18. 0
    Paul ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I never even play video games during the week because of how much homework I have. (I’m a junior in Highschool) I save it for an hour or two on the weekends, if I have time between my job.

  19. 0
    Mnementh2230 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Jack Thompson – WTF?

    Are you smoking something?

    Considering how many times we’ve ripped apart your poorly constructed lawsuits and legislation, you should be asking yourself that question.

    What a dumbass. You can’t even see your own demise. How sad.

  20. 0

    I have a full-time job, and have been going to school. I also play video games. Funny thing is, I do very well at my job (a database developer), my grades are flawless at school (4.0 GPA, Computer Science major), and video games have not impacted them one bit. Of course, I also know how to manage my time and resources…. Prioritizing what you do, and having a bit of self control goes a long way toward not ending up failing at school because you played video games a bit too much…

  21. 0
    Coravin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    While the greater time studying=better grades hypothesis does seem pretty much common sense, it misses some fairly significant determining factors far more important to student performance than studying (emotional and mental states, drive to do well, enjoyable classes, quality teachers, nutrition…this list could go on forever).

    Not studying doesn’t create low grades–not caring does. When you are more interested in social life, drinking, reading, gaming of any type, significant others, or the classes you actually like, certain classes suffer and so does overall grade. When you’re only in a school to lead up to a job or keep parents quiet, grades suffer. Again, this list could go on forever.

    The problem likely isn’t that these students didn’t study as long as others, it’s that they didn’t WANT to study (or put effort into classwork) badly enough (although really, who does?) or honestly had better things to care about than their performance in classes.

    Some people don’t NEED to study to do well; while some people could spend 8 hours a day (per class) studying and still fail a certain topic because it’s difficult for them to comprehend, or not presented in a way they can learn from, or they’re studying ineffectively for their study type, or any number of reasons. Any study suggesting that length of study time determines grades, without taking into account the quality of study time and the attitudes of those studying, is crippling its own validity.

    If I can pull off a 3.85 (out of 4.0) GPA (only so low because my Algebra grade was a fairly low A in a class where the teacher refused to explain anything and the book we used received a D- and F grade from independent textbook ratings programs) during a time period when I was working 13-20 hour shifts every day with variable start times and no off days, for a month while I was preparing for finals in three honors-level online college classes and starting up in 3 other online classes, only two of which were honors-level, with three of those classes writing-intensive (one was a creative writing course with a loooong final paper), two reading-intensive, and one requiring several lengthy explorations of current political issues each week, how would this study account for that?

    Or the fact that I had a 4.0 in high school with basically only last-minute studying in everything save the lecture course (again, mostly honors courses), while one of my best friends literally studied during every free moment and had a mediocre B average?

    It can’t, because this study doesn’t take quality of study time or attitude of students into account (both of which are considerably more important for determining grades than actual LENGTH of studying), and therefore fails.

  22. 0
    Jack Thompson ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This is your brain. This is your brain on video games.

    Any questions?

    Video Gamer: Yes, I have just one.

    Adult: Go ahead.

    Video Gamer: What is a brain?

    Sincerely, Jack Thompson

    PS: Hooah!

    GP: authentic post from a self-professed Christian, grown man, licensed attorney…. Difficult to believe, I know.

  23. 0
    Relinquished ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    No study = Lower GPA? OMFG! D:!!!


    What a waste of time and money… My god…

    Yeah I never study and play games all the time… 4.4 out of 5 GPA… Then again…I’m a Senior at High School

    ….I’ll actually study when I go to College…

  24. 0
    Meggie ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t want to go to a college that treats me like an irresponsible kid (“Roommates were randomly assigned, nightly homework and attendance is strictly controlled, outside jobs are prohibited…”). It’s all about time management, like janarius said. While someone I knew failed out of college thanks to too much RP and video gaming (we named a “study or you’re out” clause in our geek interests club after him), the thing that I witnessed being the cause of failing out: boozing.

  25. 0
    Demontestament ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Ground breaking study, guys like boobs! Lol you know it reminded me of the study that was recently put out about how guys prefer to go out with hot women…..we needed a study for that? Ahhh like this study our money going to “good” use.

  26. 0
    Conejo says:

    someone did a “study” of google pictures of people waving and said there are now more left-handed people because of more pictures with people waving with their left hand.

    i did a study confirming that my wife’s boobies make me happy.

  27. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I think it depends on the person and it isn’t only video games that can produce this outcome.

    It’s true, which is why they said overall. And they were only using video games because it seemed a common-enough distraction factor vs. other activities, one that the school itself couldn’t control (the school they used seemed pretty strict on outside-the-dorm activities, so they could rule all those out as affecting grades).

    The point of there study wasn’t that playing games lowers your GPA, but that not studying usually lowers your GPA, and video games are a common activity that contribute to not studying (because you’re busy gaming).

  28. 0
    Demontestament ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Now I would have to disagree with this study. I didn’t study and my grades were fine, when I studied it was the exact opposite. I think it depends on the person and it isn’t only video games that can produce this outcome. Anything done that is not school related when a student should be studying can lower their GPA, it isn’t video games that lower the GPA it is the lack of responsibility of the student that lowers said GPA.

  29. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    More info:

    The study found that students whose roommate brought a video game console did not exhibit different levels of class attendance, partying, study efficiency or paid employment — all factors that also could affect grades. But there was a substantial drop in time spent studying when one roommate brought a video game player. This means that the lower grades of students whose roommates brought video games can be attributed to the fact that these students studied less, Todd Stinebrickner says.

  30. 0
    kurisu7885 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This seems more about personal responsibility to me. Integrated academic study and gaming into a single package seems like it might work.

  31. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 2 ) says:

    @ xzero

    They chose video games, because it was an easily measurable variable. If you read the USA Today article I link it clarifies this. They were studying the amount of study time compared to the GPA of students. Video game play was just the common variable they used. They could have done it for any other variety of distractions, but not all of them are easily measurable and common.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  32. 0
    xzero87 says:


    Unfortunately, common sense isn’t very common at all anymore. People thinking there’s a need for “studies” like this just prove it…

    The thing about this that annoys me is how they single out “If you *play video games more* and study less, you’ll get lower grades in general.” What about watching TV? What about tooling around in your car (if you’re old enough to have a license)? What about hanging out at the mall? Doing ANYTHING in excess over studying can cause a drop in grades. People need to stop singling out “them evil vidjagames” as a scapegoat.

  33. 0
    Giacomo says:

    I played video games all the time when I was in High School, yet I still maintained a 95 GPA and took part in both AP and Honors courses. How did I do it? I was responsible and got the stuff that needed to be done first, then gamed. That’s how.

  34. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Ias, Attorney

    These morons waste time trying to draw non-existant lines between video games and social woes

    I don’t think so. The study summary certainly doesn’t lay it out that way. They seemed to be looking for a common ‘distraction’ to studying that the school itself couldn’t control, namely time wasting activities in the dorm room itself. Video games fit the bill, are measurable, and are relatively common amongst college students.

    It sounds like they were looking for a measurable factor so they could determine the study’s final conclusion, namely how much your GPA is affected per hour of studying.

    Their methodology was just a bit strange, that’s all.

  35. 0
    DragonBomber ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It always amazes me what people will take the time to study without accounting for certain variables. I imagine it may be in the study, but I wonder if they accounted for the student’s study type at all. We all know that people learn differently, and some can easily nail amazing grades without even trying to study much if at all. It comes down to knowing what is expected and producing that. Some people have that skill and others flounder about no matter how much they study.

    I know that my life all through school and into college. I did only enough to get the work done, and found praise for my half-assed fodder. Doing as little as possible still found me on lists come grade time, and into two academic college honor societies. However, I know this is not the case for everyone sadly. Few people could have worked full time 3rd shift, then gone to classes on little sleep and still pulled gold out. Being severely sleep deprived (to the point your proffs ask often if you’re ok and warn of psychological damage) is sort of like going to class drunk or with Tetris raccoon eyes/Halo zombie flesh right?

  36. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 2 ) says:

    I read about this on USAToday the other day.

    It had some ver good points that are missed here:

    “The study’s authors were not trying to prove anything about video games. The study sought to determine how much of an effect study efforts have on grades.”

    “He added that he does not think these findings mean students should give up distractions such as video games. In fact, happiness also can be a factor in how well a student does in school.

    But the findings could help counselors educate students on the importance and impact of studying.”

    Just thought I would share this view point.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  37. 0
    GameDevMich ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “We’re sorry to interrupt your regularly scheduled TV program, but an emergency news bulletin has been issued containing the following research that could be critical to your child’s safety and future:

    – Gaming instead of studying lowers your GPA

    – You are watching this announcement on TV

    – If your child stops breathing, they could pass out or even die

    – A child who dives under the water is likely to not breathe until they resurface, be sure to catch the earlier announcement on breathing

    – Avoid letting your child play in the following areas – an enormous microwave, the oven, a pit of spikes, a pit of pit-bulls, a pit of lava, a pit of pits containing lava coated spikes strapped to pit-bulls, in Michael Jackson’s house, and anywhere else we’ve scared you enough to not allow your child outside for the rest of his/her life


    We now return you to “Big Brother Lost on a Survivor Island of the Bachelor”

  38. 0
    janarius ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    That’s quite obvious since there’s only 24 hours per day. but it’s not only video games, but I believe the issue is more about self-control, stress and time management.

    I wonder what the education scientists think about it. Surely the economists may have missed other variables like how effective students study per hour, what other distractors besides video games like internet chat or napping excessively (like me), or even intelligence. I would believe a study from education scientist than an economist.

  39. 0
    chris says:

    I have some contrary evidence.

    Got Wind Waker and playered for 8 days during my GCSEs, got 10 As and a C

    Played counterstrike source during my A-levels, easily more hours than I spent revising. got AAB in the end.

  40. 0
    MaskedPixelante ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    I’ve rarely spent more than half an hour studying for a test, and I’ve managed to pull some decent marks off of them.

    This study is going to be blown out of proportion by the media, that much is for sure. Something along the lines of… well… what Jabrwock said. How many news outlets are going to get this story and say that video games hurt grades, without making any mention of other things.

  41. 0
    las, Attorney says:

    These morons waste time trying to draw non-existant lines between video games and social woes* and yet there is a staggering, very real problem concerning guns, people buying guns and shooting other people with guns. Why has no one has done a study linking guns to murders and killing people and then tried to start a witchhunt against guns, with a crazy right-wing homophobic racist ‘lawyer’ (which I use very loosely indeed) from Florida spouting lies, bullshits and stereotypical, offensive statements against people who make guns and use guns? Is it because Americans are inept morons? Of course, I guess this could be attributed to people playing too many video games and not realising that they and their fellow countrymen have the collective brain power of a dried fig, and the sad thing is it probably will be too.


    Seriously, when you see that on your TV and you don’t think there is a problem where gun crime is viewed as normal and yet video games are a social evil, you are some kind of stupid.

    * – I am not saying that if you game more and study less, you’ll get lower grades, but the fact is that applies to everything, from video gaming, to watching TV, to playing sport. But hell, no one is blaming too much football for bad grades are they?

  42. 0
    Austin Lewis ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    At my college, we had all these kids in marketing who never went to class cuz they were gonna ‘make it big’. Guess where they are now? Supermarkets.

    Personally, I barely ever studied and maintained a 4.0, but I would be an anomaly.

  43. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    BTW, let’s see them do a study on students who put more effort into their college sports “careers” than studying. Probably already happened. Or did the colleges block it because it would affect them financially in some way?

    NW2K software

  44. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It also doesn’t point out the differences in how individual students manage with or without studying. That sounds like a stupid comment, but I mean, for example, students who absorb the material the first time around versus those students who need to “work harder at it”.

    Some students can, for example, appear ultra choatic and still have high grades and intelligence. Kinda like a person who can eat massive amounts and still look anorexic (without BEING anorexic).

    NW2K Software

  45. 0
    Samson Effect says:

    This is definitely a “Thank you Professor Obvious” moment. THough it would’ve also been nice to see what the effects would’ve been if they’d used that other 35-ish minutes doing something other than gaming and seeing if it had the same effect or not.

    Or if you spent it napping. I bet they’ll eventually show that naps are good for you.

  46. 0
    Bloodharp ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Who woulda thunk it. Not studying hurts GPA? Who knew? Seriously, this could be true for playing sports, talkin on the phone, watching tv, reading non-school books, hell even sleeping. Gaming is just the hot topic of contraversy right now.

  47. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    the thing that I witnessed being the cause of failing out: boozing.

    That was strictly controlled too, because it was a “dry” town. So very hard to fail out due to boozing at that college.

    If you think about it, boozing cuts into study time too. 😉

  48. 0
    VenomandCarnage ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Did we really need a study for this? Something you could figure out using common sense? Oh wait, it would seem our society is out of that as of late.

  49. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Broken News:
    Faux News serivce: Assimilated Press announces today that studies reveal that most video games cause a decrease in intelligence, grade point averages, stress, and emotional reactions.

    Oddly enough, the one game researchers found that would cause an increase in players was Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude.

    Researchers at Dead From The Neck Down Institute, where these studies were performed, are at a loss to understand exactly WHAT is being increased by this game or why.

    For Faux News, Geri Jeri.

    NW2K Software

  50. 0
    BaronJuJu ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wow, thanks Capt. Obvious (National Bureau of Economic Research). You could insert any given thing into that study and would be the same:

    Play more sports than study = Lower GPA
    Hang out at the mall more than study = Lower GPA
    Stare at your dorm room wall rather than study = Lower GPA
    Party more than study = Lower GPA

    “CM: The study makes no mention of what happens if you manage to get a lot of studying AND gaming done.”

    I can answer that for you, you get scholarships for Duke. My two younder brothers are living proof of that. Both are avid gamers (PC and 4 consoles in the house), both enjoy sports but school comes first and both are holding 3.8 GPA’s repsectively in middle and high school. They were approached two years ago by Duke and with scholarships and incentives to go there when they graduate.

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