ARTICLE: Mental Gym: can games make you smarter?

Nov
23

ARTICLE: Mental Gym: can games make you smarter?

In childhood, we have learned about everything around us by playing different games. When we grew up, we went to school, where we learned about the world and everything that is going on in it by listening to boring lectures and reading tons of books. Many students didn’t like the way most teachers taught them and thus they started to dislike school and stop to do homework regularly.

But what if there were games through which we could learn about what we read in books? What if students could learn while playing games? Probably, in that case, students would more enjoy schooling. Nowadays, things are different, and games are not only for kids. Today, they are touted as not only a good way to relax and get your mind off things but also as a great way to keep your brain fit.

Brain games that slow down brain aging

Just like your body needs physical exercises to stay fit, your brain needs to be trained, too. Without enough training, its performance will be greatly reduced in the long run. Of course, every brain inevitably loses its power over time; however, one can slow down this damaging process by training it.

Naturally, our brain hits its highest performance at the age of 15-25 years and then it stops functioning as great as it used to. Will it be a surprise for you to learn that you can maintain your brain function by playing games? Many brain training entertainments are developed to enhance your thinking, cognitive, and memory abilities. Start playing these games in advance so that the aging process doesn’t take over your consciousness first. Remember about athletes who must train all the time to keep fit, the same goes for your brain.

What can you learn from games?

Until recently, games have been considered as something good only for fun. However, today, many games can also serve another purpose – they can educate students. Let us say, a Czech game, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, which features a fully authentic middle-age gameplay, will be used by the University of Prague for teaching history. The game developer Warhorse Studios claims that this is one of the first steps taken towards using games for bigger purposes, not just for fun.

What about cognitive thinking games?

There are many discussions on brain games and their benefits. While their creators claim that these entertainments can greatly improve gamers’ brain function, many psychologists accuse them of deceiving players and believe that any evidence indicating that games can help gamers is false.

Nevertheless, there are many games and all of them are not created equal. A team of scientists has concluded that both brain games and video entertainments can boost brain function and improve cognitive flexibility. However, they have mentioned that far not all games have these brain benefits. Given the said, no one can say for sure whether or not games can help us develop our brain. Still, many continue to claim that action games turn out to be an excellent tool for maintaining our brain performance.

Are there any disadvantages to playing brain games?

One would answer you that by gaming we waste the time that we would normally spend on something more useful. Of course, we always spend a lot of time on the things that we like and there always will be something that is more useful or that will bring you some cash. The same one can say about playing brain games. When playing, you are spending the time that you could spend on meeting your friends, reading, educating, or having some sleep. Truth be told, there are the games that can make you think and thus playing them has nothing to do with wasting your time.

We should never forget about advertising when talking about the negatives of gaming. There are many products promising gamers to boost their brain performance, but the only thing they offer is same-type puzzles and a few annoying features. For this very reason, you shouldn’t put blind trust in ads, and it always makes sense to try different games before making any conclusions. Unfortunately, it happens that the most useful apps that can benefit our brain a lot are not found among top-listed products and thus often remain underestimated.

What else can we use to improve our brain function?

One of the most effective ways of maintaining our brain health has been always around. While most of us hated it, others loved it. Guess, what is this all about? Yes, you are right; we are talking about critical thinking essays. At school, students are assigned lots of academic papers, for a reason. While many prefer to use a paper writing service, others decide to complete their assignments without any outside help, all while making their grey substance work hard. Even though writing papers are not as joyful as playing games, it is one the oldest and yet most effective ways of training our cognitive abilities.

Should you forget about brain games for good?

The answer will greatly depend on a few factors: your personality, type of games, how much time you spend on playing them, etc. Truth be told, it is hard, if not impossible, to find a perfect match that will benefit your brain, and for this very reason, brain games are less popular than they should be. Nevertheless, there is no evidence indicating that brain games are completely useless; moreover, some people claim that these entertainments help them a lot, so, why not give them a try?

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One comment

  • Nov 23, 2019 @ 18:45 pm

    Yeah, I totally agree. Games are a very nice and fun way to improve our cognitive abilities and to learn new things. We usually focus on fun things much more easily than things we don’t find fun, so games provide a very nice way to improve our abilities while giving feedback of our success within a short span of time.

    And it’s not always the games we most expect that would have the best effect. For example, puzzle games are all good as they get us to think, but in the end, most puzzle games mainly just have one solution to each puzzle, whereas games like Darkest Dungeon or XCOM for example are actually very good ways to improve our lateral thinking as they require a lot of resource management and contingency planning, where the only goal is to win missions and minimize losses, and you are free to find your own strategy and priorities on how to do it. You can easily equate the kind of management we do in these games to say running a business or a store. It requires a very similar set of skills.

    Less tactical games can also have their benefits. Games which are fast-paced, such as first-person shooters or runners or some bullet-hell shooters, are good at getting us to think quickly on our feet. If you are a planner like me, you might find it hard to adjust to rapidly-changing and unpredictable situations, but this is the kind of stuff these types of games train us to do, because there’s no time for in-depth thinking through the problems they throw our way.

    Anyways, good article. 🙂

    Reply

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