Researchers recently confirmed what gamers have expected for many years: playing smart video games makes you smarter.
Yes, just like reading a smart, thought-provoking book can make you smarter, so can playing challenging video games. Researchers from the University of London, University of Texas, and University College London studied the results of 40 hours of gaming on a number of gaming and non-gaming students.
Each participant in the study logged 40 hours of gameplay time over the course of approximately forty days. Some participants played The Sims, while others played StarCraft. Another group played StarCraft with tweaked settings that made it more difficult to play.
“The present study finds that cognitive flexibility is a trainable skill. Forty hours of training within an RTS game that stresses rapid and simultaneous maintenance, assessment, and coordination between multiple information and action sources was sufficient to affect change…As a result of RTS game experience, an underlying dimension of cognitive flexibility emerged and characterized individual differences in performance on a variety of laboratory tasks.”
In other words, after playing 40 hours of intelligent video games, participants scored higher on a number of different cognitive tests.
Of course, the study didn’t comprehensively state that 40 hours of gaming is good for your overall health. If you play 40 hours of StarCraft per week, you may be cognitively healthy but physically useless. But if you’re looking for an excuse to tell your parents when you stay up all night playing video games before a final exam, then just link them to this study. They’ll totally understand.