When you think of a video gamer, there are certain stereotypes many people hold to be true: lazy, unmotivated, and lack of social skills are just a few words that might come to mind. But according to researchers, there is a lot of evidence that video games can actually be good for your brain!
This isn’t to say that playing video games will make you the next Einstein, but certain games have the potential to strengthen cognitive functions, improve vision and attention span, and more.
However, not all video games will help you become a genius, and with so many options available it can be hard to figure out what video games are good for your brain.
To help you out, we’ve put together this list of 5 video games that are good for your brain.
1. Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 is one of the most iconic entries in video game history, helping to usher in the age of 3D games with its release on Nintendo 64 in 1996. Not only is it one of the most well known video games ever made, but a study from 2013 found that playing Super Mario 64 can be of benefit to patients with various psychiatric disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder.
During the study, conducted at the Max Plank Institute, compared two different groups: one that played Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes everyday for 2 months, and one that didn’t play any video games. Throughout the study, the participants brain volume was measured using MRI machines.
It was observed that the group that played Super Mario 64 showed increases in grey matter in the right hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex, and the cerebellum. These parts of the brain are involved in important functions like memory formation, strategic planning, fine motor skills and spatial navigation, so be sure to spend 30 minutes a day with this classic if you’d like to see improvement in these areas!
When educators asked what video games are good for your brain, one of the biggest recurring answers was Minecraft. Minecraft is a hugely popular sandbox game that was first released in 2009, and since then it has been used by educators to strengthen their students creativity and critical thinking skills.
In fact, a company called TeacherGaming has developed a customized classroom version of Minecraft that is used in over 6,500 schools, libraries and museums around the world. Joel Levin, TeacherGaming’s co-founder, talked about the game’s academic potential, stating “It’s no longer a farfetched idea that Minecraft could be useful for teaching and learning.”
Minecraft is an addictingly fun game to play, so the fact that it has so much potential for your brain is a great added bonus.
3. Call of Duty 2
You may think that action games are best left to mountain dew addicted teenagers who spend too much time in their parents basement, but research has shown that these kinds of games can lead to improvements in players’ quick decision making skills.
One action game that has been scientifically shown to strengthen decision making skills is Call of Duty 2. A study conducted by University of Rochester involved participants aged 18-25 who were not normally video game players. The participants were split into two groups: one group played 50 hours of an action game, specifically Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament, while the other group played a non action game, The Sims 2.
After the participants completed the gameplay, their quick decision making skills were tested by various tasks developed by the researchers. These tests involved looking at a screen, analyzing information, and then answering a question about it as quickly as possible.
It was found that the group that played actions games like Call of Duty 2 were 25 percent faster at coming up with answers to questions than the group that played The Sims 2, and were equally likely to answer correctly as participants from the other group.
So next time you feel like playing Call of Duty 2, you can enjoy the game guilt free knowing you’ll be improving your real world decision making skills.
4. Gran Turismo Sport
You might not think swerving around the windy turns of a race course in a supercharged car could be good for your brain, but you’d be wrong. In fact, racing games like Gran Turismo Sport can actually improve memory, attention and multitasking skills in the brain, especially among elderly people.
Neuroscientists at The University of California, San Francisco developed a game called NeuroRacer that was used to study the way the brain deals with multitasking. NeuroRacer is a relatively simple game that has the player identify road signs while driving, and the study found that participants gained a number of cognitive benefits from playing it, such as improvement withs multitasking and memory.
If a simple game like NeuroRacer can improve your brain, just imagine the effects a modern racing simulator like Gran Turismo Sport will have!
If you never got the chance to attend Harvard or Stanford University, the game Capitalism may be the next best thing. In fact, this financial simulator game had so much educational potential that it was adopted by both of these top league universities as an official part of their curriculum after its release.
Speaking about the games benefits, Professor Tom Kosnik of Stanford University explained how it is of benefit to business students. “Capitalism is a world-class, hands-on learning experience I’ve used at Stanford School of Engineering and Harvard Business School. Gamers not only learn the subtleties of growing an entrepreneurial business but also learn about leadership and team building necessary in any business situation.”
By playing Capitalism, you can mentally strengthen your business acumen and financial skills. You’ll be on your way to Wall Street in no time!
We hope that this list of video games that are good for your brain will help you to find the perfect brain strengthening game to enjoy.