A new article written by Iowa State University professor of psychology Douglas Gentile posits that playing social games may cause players to be more helpful in real-life social situations. Social games require the help of friends – and in turn for the player to be helpful to his or her friends. In an article published in the latest issue of the Nature Reviews/Neuroscience journal, Gentile uses several studies to toy with the idea that social games might inspire players to be helpful to others in real-life. The article, titled "Brains on video games," uses a collection of independent studies from six researchers on the psychological effects of video games.
By looking into the data of these studies (which were conducted in the U.S., Japan, and Singapore) Gentile found that playing "pro-social" games led to more "helping behavior" in players. In one study researchers found that students that started the school year playing social games displayed an increased level of helpfulness later in the school year.
"If content is chosen wisely, video games can actually enhance some skills," Gentile said to Medical Xpress. "But overall, the research has demonstrated that they're far more powerful teaching tools than we imagined. But the power can be both good and bad." Of course, Gentile was referring to the potentially negative psychological effects of violent video games like desensitization and everyday aggression.
Naturally, more research of the cause and effect of behavior – particularly as it relates to social gaming is needed.
Source: Games Blog