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    #124892 - 03/07/12 07:18 AM When Gaming Is Good for You
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2638
    Loc: MA
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203458604577263273943183932.html
    When Gaming Is Good for You
    By ROBERT LEE HOTZ
    Wall Street Journal
    March 5, 2012

    Videogames can change a person's brain and, as researchers are finding, often that change is for the better.

    A growing body of university research suggests that gaming improves creativity, decision-making and perception. The specific benefits are wide ranging, from improved hand-eye coordination in surgeons to vision changes that boost night driving ability.

    People who played action-based video and computer games made decisions 25% faster than others without sacrificing accuracy, according to a study. Indeed, the most adept gamers can make choices and act on them up to six times a second—four times faster than most people, other researchers found. Moreover, practiced game players can pay attention to more than six things at once without getting confused, compared with the four that someone can normally keep in mind, said University of Rochester researchers. The studies were conducted independently of the companies that sell video and computer games.

    Scientists also found that women—who make up about 42% of computer and videogame players—were better able to mentally manipulate 3D objects, a skill at which men are generally more adept. Most studies looked at adults rather than children.

    Electronic gameplay has its downside. Brain scans show that violent videogames can alter brain function in healthy young men after just a week of play, depressing activity among regions associated with emotional control, researchers at Indiana University recently reported. Other studies have found an association between compulsive gaming and being overweight, introverted and prone to depression. The studies didn't compare the benefits of gaming with such downsides.

    The violent action games that often worry parents most had the strongest beneficial effect on the brain. "These are not the games you would think are mind-enhancing," said cognitive neuroscientist Daphne Bavelier, who studies the effect of action games at Switzerland's University of Geneva and the University of Rochester in New York.

    ***********************************************************

    There is probably a point at which too much time spent on video games detracts from academics, fitness, and friendships, but this article may cause me to tolerate more game playing than I did before.

    What makes a game worthwhile? Video games are seen as something that needs to be regulated, but chess has a pretty good reputation with parents of gifted children, as evidenced by the number of threads about it here.

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    #124894 - 03/07/12 07:34 AM Re: When Gaming Is Good for You [Re: Bostonian]
    JonLaw Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/11
    Posts: 2007
    Loc: The Sub-Tropics
    Originally Posted By: Bostonian
    There is probably a point at which too much time spent on video games detracts from academics, fitness, and friendships, but this article may cause me to tolerate more game playing than I did before.


    I'm still trying to dig out of the gaping hole that computer games left in my life from about age 14 through age 26, so I'm inclined to err on the side of "shut that game off, now" with my kids.

    I think I gained most of the negatives mentioned here.

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    #124899 - 03/07/12 08:00 AM Re: When Gaming Is Good for You [Re: Bostonian]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    The key word on the downside risks discussion is "compulsive." Too much of anything is a bad thing.

    I was already convinced I had gained some upside cognitive abilities through gaming, and have encouraged my DD to play for the same, so it's good to see research confirming what I already knew.

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    #124902 - 03/07/12 08:08 AM Re: When Gaming Is Good for You [Re: Bostonian]
    DAD22 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/19/11
    Posts: 312
    It's hard to imagine these first person shooters are better for faster thinking than a good racing game or speedy puzzle game. Super puzzle fighter 2 turbo, anyone?

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    #124903 - 03/07/12 08:12 AM Re: When Gaming Is Good for You [Re: Dude]
    JonLaw Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/11
    Posts: 2007
    Loc: The Sub-Tropics
    Originally Posted By: Dude
    The key word on the downside risks discussion is "compulsive." Too much of anything is a bad thing.


    It's more of a problem of self-regulation than anything else.

    Ideally, you want to make sure that your kids understand self-regulation before they go to college and they aren't transitioned from an zero responsibility environment to a total freedom environment where they can play computer games 24 hours a day and not attend class or do much of anything.

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    #124909 - 03/07/12 08:41 AM Re: When Gaming Is Good for You [Re: DAD22]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    Originally Posted By: DAD22
    It's hard to imagine these first person shooters are better for faster thinking than a good racing game or speedy puzzle game. Super puzzle fighter 2 turbo, anyone?


    I'm thinking that "the violent games that often worry parents most" is a code-phrase for the Grand Theft Auto franchise, which is not, strictly speaking, an FPS.

    And the difference between a GTA game and a racing game is one has you racing around on a track, and the other has you racing around in a city, navigating traffic and obstacles while being shot at by helicopters. One has the objective of "go fast" while the other has the objective of "go fast while avoiding committing other crimes that will escalate the law enforcement response even further, and while navigating to a spray-paint shop which you may or may not have already located on the map in advance."

    So for the purposes of this comparison, GTA equals more challenges, more objects and objectives to keep track of, more decisions to be made, and therefore, more cognitive benefit.

    My DD plays a game inspired by GTA called "The Simpsons - Hit and Run," which incorporates a lot of the best elements of GTA but reduces the violence to a cartoon level and subtracts the gunplay. I've showed the game to a number of nieces and nephews, and I've yet to find a kid that doesn't love it.

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    #124917 - 03/07/12 09:05 AM Re: When Gaming Is Good for You [Re: Bostonian]
    ABQMom Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/25/10
    Posts: 868
    I can believe the study. The team-leading, interactive play of point and shoot games online definitely build decision-making skills.

    I also believe JonLaw. The downside for some personality is also very real.

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    #124918 - 03/07/12 09:19 AM Re: When Gaming Is Good for You [Re: ABQMom]
    JonLaw Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/11
    Posts: 2007
    Loc: The Sub-Tropics
    Originally Posted By: ABQMom
    How in the *&^^%% did you finally learn self-regulation? I've found with my older son, he is dealing with the same issues now that he's in college. When he was a minor living at home, I could do a lot of mom-regulation. He was also part of a tight-knit sports team that provided a lot of regulation to his time. But now that he's in college, I'm seeing him starting to founder in time management and am wondering what, if anything, I can do to help him not dig a pit he can't get out of easily.


    I don't think my experience is particularly helpful here, since what finally solved my over-gaming was getting married and practicing law full time in a corporate law office.

    Plus, I finally got sick of computer games.

    In college, I had enough self-regulation to keep my scholarship, because the alternative was to pay for college myself through loans and/or work, neither of which was appealing. Although most of that was the fact that theoretical science is extremely easy for me.

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    #124919 - 03/07/12 09:30 AM Re: When Gaming Is Good for You [Re: Bostonian]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    ABQMom: In my case, self-regulation was a necessity, because rather than college I was enlisted in the Navy. If I abused video games to the point where my test scores were below 75%, I'd have been kicked out of school and sent to the fleet to chip and paint. So there's probably not a lot for you to learn there that can be applied to your son.

    After my enlistment I had a girlfriend move in, she raised a stink about how much time I spent playing games, and it became something where I'd better learn how to regulate it or I wouldn't have the girlfriend anymore. Again... not a lot to learn there.

    Except, I suppose, that the key to learning self-regulation in both cases is to find other things you care about enough to set aside the games when necessary. I've said elsewhere that my DD7 doesn't abuse video games, playing less than an hour when she does sit down to them, and that's primarily because, given the choice, she'd much rather go play with her toys. So there's that theme again.

    One thing that doesn't help is that these games can be very hard to put down because the next goal is always so tantalizingly close, which lends itself to an unending string of excuses... "let me just beat this bad guy first... let me just visit this shop real quick... let me just see what this next mission is..."

    And the solution to that is to regiment it a bit. For example, your DS could come to his dorm and reward himself for surviving another day of classes with an hour of game play... ONLY an hour, and stick to it. Then it's time to hit the books, do the laundry, pick up some grub, etc. If he finishes with everything early... REWARD! More playing time.

    Hope any of this helps.

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    #124920 - 03/07/12 09:43 AM Re: When Gaming Is Good for You [Re: ABQMom]
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2638
    Loc: MA
    Originally Posted By: ABQMom

    I really don't know how to help him. I've gotten him in to see a therapist, but there isn't one in the area that has any real understanding of dealing with high gifted traits, so it doesn't seem to be helping a lot.


    If you are paying for his college and he is not working hard enough, stop paying.
    _________________________
    "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." - George Orwell

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