Study Links Gaming with Improved Thinking Skills

A new study conducted by a Wheaton College professor has concluded that people that play action and puzzle games are better able to think through complex problems.

Rolf Nelson, a professor of psychology, conducted the study and published his findings in the November edition of the journal Perception. In the study, he had 20 students try to solve a spatial relation problem. The students were then given a puzzle game or action game to play. Once done with the game, the students were given the chance to finish the spatial relation problem again.

Results showed that puzzle players finished the task slower, but with more accuracy, while action players finished the task quicker but less accurately. Both finished quicker than if they had not played a game at all.

The goal of the study, according to the abstract from the journal:

To understand the way in which video-game play affects subsequent perception and cognitive strategy, two experiments were performed in which participants played either a fast-action game or a puzzle-solving game. Before and after video-game play, participants performed a task in which both speed and accuracy were emphasized. In experiment 1 participants engaged in a location task in which they clicked a mouse on the spot where a target had appeared, and in experiment 2 they were asked to judge which of four shapes was most similar to a target shape. In both experiments, participants were much faster but less accurate after playing the action game, while they were slower but more accurate after playing the puzzle game. Results are discussed in terms of a taxonomy of video games by their cognitive and perceptual demands.

The full study can be found in the Perception journal or online, although you need a subscription to view the complete study in PDF format.

A press release from an online casino company latched onto the study, adding blackjack and poker to the puzzle category:

Of course there are other games that may also boast some of the same results as the video puzzle games including popular games like Sudoku and Boggle as well as card games like poker and blackjack. Activities that might have similar effects to the action games are most sports which not only improve response times but also promote strength and fitness.

GP: How much more brilliant could Einstein have been if he played games?

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  1. DarkSaber says:

    EDIT: That was supposed to be in reply to Erik.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  2. Erik says:

    To go along with the improved thinking skills it was decided that people should use thought out and written out responses rather than mindlessly posting a Star Trek goober touching their face on every topic of conversation.

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  3. TBoneTony says:

    Also I often fear that way too many people jump to the conclusions of, "if you play a shooter game, you are far more better with a real gun…" and therefore it makes a really scary assumption that many anti-gamers will far too often make when it comes to the violent videogames argument.

    So yeah, don’t look too far deep into any research and instead question whether the person doing the research really knows what they are talking about.


  4. TBoneTony says:

    I think that allot of research about videogames, both positive and negative research, sometimes go too far into detail that there are allot of holes into them.

    Sometimes, I feel that you can’t be smart when you play videogames, but at the same time it does not make your any dumber too.

    All I am just saying, I am neutral on this one. While I sometimes question where the research comes from, any time when I hear the phrase "In order to understand how videogame play affects the cognative strategy…" I just wonder, has this person ever played a videogame before?

    And if so then what kinds of games have they played?

    Perhaps the best research that goes into about how playing videogames affects the mind, is about a person who has really took their time to PLAY THE GAMES… instead of talking about them allot.


  5. DarkSaber says:

    Credit where credit is due, the closing GP comment is a good one.

    I’d have to say "He’d not be smarter, but he’d be more philosophical."

    After all, most games aren’t going to make you better at maths or physics, but they do make you question the way the world works, or human nature. (if they are done right anyway.)


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  6. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Just think without gaming I would be more the fool and twice the idiot….but all the indotcentric…well that is if normality would not have sterilized my mind and made me an average sheeple…

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! CP/IP laws should not effect the daily life of common people!

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