When I still lived at home, before I went to boarding school, video games and my generation’s attention span was a hot topic around my house. My dad never really approved of video games, as he thought they were a huge waste of time and did not add any benefit to someone’s well being by playing. My younger brother would beg for a video game console, but to this day is still game-less.
When I went to boarding school, it was impossible to meet a boy who didn’t play video games during every free minute they could find. I thought it was the weirdest phenomenon because they all seemed so addicted to playing and I couldn’t understand what the appeal was. I soon observed that boys at school were incredible at multi-tasking and seemed to always be thinking creatively yet realistically. Of course, the last thing I would guess these positive characteristics were attributed to was video games, but New York Times article, “A Multitasking Video Game Makes Old Brains Act Younger” thinks otherwise.
(Photo from discovery.com, click to enlarge.)
The article summarizes a how brain scientists have recently discovered that playing video games can improve the short-term memory and long-term focus of those who play. “Some people as old as 80, the researchers say, begin to show neurological patterns of people in their 20s” (Richtel).
It also states that, “The study highlights an emerging field in which researchers are trying to better define and even expand the limits of attention, which is seen as crucial to performance, memory and intelligence. Previous studies, done at the University of Rochester and focused more on young people, show that heavy use of certain off-the-shelf, intense shooting games can lead to improvements in a user’s ability to ignore distractions, and even learn” (Richtel).
The article goes on to talk about possible negative outcomes also associated with playing video games, but of course it seems that anyone can look at this glass half empty or half full, because the field of research is so young.
What will be interesting is analyzing the long term effects of these video games. I have heard about other studies that showed that people who play video games are also more likely to be risk-takers in their careers, a quality very sought after in some areas of business.
Who knows? Maybe one day my friends can put “239487234 hours of video games played” on their resumes.