FASCINATING FACTS: 15 Super Facts About Gaming

For many players, gaming isn’t just entertainment or a way to kill time. It is part of their lifestyle and who they are. When the real world is not enough, when one needs adventures that defy their fantasies and expectations, gaming comes to the fore. That is the power of gaming. It has the ability to transport the player into an alternate world and give experiences that otherwise cannot be felt. And as it happens, that’s not the only thing games can do….

1. A study of 5000 boys and girls revealed that children who spent almost an hour gaming were happier, less hyperactive, more adjustable and social than those who didn’t play at all.

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Contrary to the popular belief of parents, video and computer games are less likely to have any possible negative influence over children. In fact, according to a study report by Dr. Andrew Przybylski, the link between behavioral problems among children and gaming is very weak. Just like games in real life, games that use digital media can be a good source of cognitive behavior enhancers as they involve using imagination and being alert in order to win.

The study also suggests, however, that video games alone cannot be held responsible for either positive or negative changes a child would experience and that familial and environmental factors should also be taken into consideration. They serve as a good distraction and a receptacle for the hyperactive energy most children have and spending that energy actively can lessen hyperactivity in other situations.(source)

2. Action video games train the brain’s neurons in making faster and more accurate decisions, say researchers from the University of Rochester. The players are sensitized to even the slightest auditory and visual changes, making them adept at multitasking, driving, navigating and successfully keeping track of things even in a chaotic environment.

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According to Professor Daphne Bavelier and her colleagues, the nervous system adapts to what it is subjected to. In a study involving 18 to 25 year old non-players, a group played 50 hours of fast-paced action games such as ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Unreal Tournament’ whereas the other group played slow-paced strategy games such as ‘The Sims 2’.

When they were both tested for decision making based on visual and auditory input, the first group performed better and 25 percent faster than the second. This is because the brain’s decision making process is based on continuously computing probabilities based on the sensory inputs it is provided and the brain that is used to recognizing and analyzing those sensory cues faster can perform faster while arriving at a decision.(source)

3. Gamers are far more likely to have dreams that they can consciously control than those who don’t play.

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Lucid dreaming is a practice that lets dreamers consciously experience and control their actions and the environment of the dream. It lets the dreamer explore the world that their mind subconsciously creates and is also used therapeutically to analyze and battle nightmares, phobias and fears.

Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist, conducted studies on gamers and their dreams. She found that spending a lot of time in a virtual world, fighting in it and controlling it can let the gamers do the same to their dreams. They become, to some extent, lucid dreamers – being able to flit between first person view and third person view as they do while playing.(source)

4. A group of adults were asked to play Super Mario 64 for half an hour each day. After two months, an MRI scan of their brains showed an increase in grey matter – proving that there is a “direct causal link between gaming and volumetric increase of the brain”.

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There are parts of brain that are responsible for strategic planning, memory formation and spatial orientation without which it is nearly impossible to live a normal life. According to Psychiatrist Jurgen Galliant, video games are much better therapeutic resources than medicine or exercise as the patients are more inclined to do something fun and exciting.

The idea of using video games to treat patients with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Schizophrenia, degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s or any other disorder that requires recuperation of the brain cells is now being increasingly accepted.(source)

5. A game of Tetris can help cut down on your cravings for sex, drugs or food.

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Most cravings and addictions are usually psychological needs, and often a desperation to find something that exhilarates the brain. Sometimes all they need is a little distraction to refrain from giving into the craving, and playing a game of Tetris can be one such distraction.

To investigate this, a study involving 31 students was conducted by psychologists from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology. They were asked to regularly report their cravings and a subset of that group was asked to play a very immersive game of Tetris. The subset that played the game was reported to have reduced number of cravings than those who didn’t.(source)

6. Female gamers are more likely to have better sex lives and happier relationships than those who don’t play.

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A survey conducted by Harris Interactive revealed that female gamers end up having more sex and a better life, than the non-gamers. They are also not the stereotype obese hermits everyone imagines, but are physically very active playing sports and going to the gym.

Seventy percent of these women are quite happy in their relationships and believe that playing games helps them remain happy and smart. Just like with any other demographic of gamers, female gamers benefit from the mental stimulation that gaming provides.(source)

7. Gamers were able to separate the structure of an enzyme that caused a disease such as AIDS in monkeys when solving an online puzzle Foldit in 2001. What the researchers were trying to solve for 13 years, took the gamers only three weeks.

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According to Neuroscientist Erinma Ochu, the brain is designed to recognize and analyze patterns, a natural ability that we are trying to have the computers emulate for us. Gaming is one such area wherein, in the heat of the moment, the brain works much faster and is more receptive than a computer when it comes to solving puzzles.

Games based on scientific puzzles are a great help to scientists wrestling with new puzzles. Having such a large gamer community trying to solve the same problem is a massive place for endless possibilities.(source)

8. Games like Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty can improve your sensory motor skills and vision-motor movement coordination – an ability that lets you master a skill faster. 

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In an experiment conducted by the University of Toronto, 18 gamers and 18 non-gamers were asked to play a game of keeping a green square in the center of a moving circle, using a mouse.

The test was designed to test the participant’s ability to coordinate what they see with their mouse movement, and how fast and accurately they can achieve it. Since it was a new task, the gamers initially performed at a similar level as the non-gamers.

But by the end of the test, the gamers showed significant improvement in their coordination as they were able to master the skill faster than the non-gamers.(source)

9. A study reveals that gamers are more efficiently tuned into their environment, can identify distractions and return their focus to their main task faster.

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Neuroscientist Daphne Bavelier was able to measure the electrical signals using ECG headsets on a group of gamers and non-gamers. They were all asked to watch a screen on which three rapid sequences of letters appeared simultaneously. They were told to focus on one of the three and press a button when the numbers appeared, while ignoring distractions.

The ability to focus was measured to be the same for both of them, but the response time of gamers was shorter and they were able to easily ignore unnecessary or distracting information which made them faster decision makers.(source)

10. Playing video games can improve the brain’s ability to recognize detail, in people born with eye problems such as cataract. Researchers say the brain is plastic enough to learn better sight.

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Gaming requires a lot of eye movement, spotting things and reacting to them. People with eye problems such as children who live and grow up with cataracts might find it difficult even after surgery to process the visual detail of what they see. This happens because their brains are used to processing incomplete images received from the eyes.

A test was conducted with six adults aged between 19 and 31 who suffered from cataracts during their childhood. They were asked to play shooter games for 40 hours a month, after which they were able to read two extra lines on the eye chart than earlier.(source)

11. An America’s Army player was able to save a car crash victim without any prior medical training. He learned about controlling bleeding and saving the victim’s life from the game.

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When Paxton Galvanek saw an SUV flip and crash on a highway, he immediately assisted the victim by bringing him out. He used a towel to stop the bleeding from the victim’s hand and other injuries. This is not the first time the knowledge people get while playing games have helped them in the real world.

Most high-end games are designed to be accurate enough to simulate real life situations and equip the player to respond as is necessary in real life as well.(source)

12. Video games used as therapy for fighting depression and other psychological problems in teenagers has proven more effective than counseling.

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Depression is one of the psychological problems seen in both teenagers and adults that affects their quality of life and increases their psychological stress. In a study conducted with 168 teenagers, half were assigned to play SPRAX and the other half were assigned to attend traditional therapy. The first half were able to battle depression much faster, with 44% even completely cured, when compared to the other half.

People forget themselves when they are engrossed in a game and that is one of the important things you need to fight negative thinking. The excitement of the game can help people fight self-consciousness and feelings of inadequacy.(source)

13. A 12 year old Norwegian boy saved his sister and himself from a moose by taunting and feigning death – two skills he learned from playing World of Warcraft.

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Hans Jorgen Oslen was walking home with his sister when they accidentally stepped into the territory of a moose, who then started attacking them. That is when Oslen used the knowledge that he learned from the game to themselves.

When the moose attacked them, Oslen knew the first thing he had to do was ‘taunt’ and provoke the animal so that it would leave his sister alone and she could run to safety. ‘Taunting’ is a move one uses in World of Warcraft to get monsters off of the less-well-armored team members. Once Hans was a target, he remembered another skill he had picked up at level 30 in ‘World of Warcraft’ – he feigned death. The moose lost interest in the inanimate boy and wandered off into the woods. When he was safely alone Hans ran back home to share his tale of video game-inspired survival.(source)

14. An Oxford study suggests that playing Tetris after a traumatic incident reduces the chance of developing traumatic memories by keeping the mind occupied from reliving the incident.

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After a traumatic incident, people tend to recall what happened – either voluntarily or involuntarily, developing memories that are very sad and unpleasant.

There is also a tendency to subconsciously get used to depression because a person may feel there is nothing else left to live for. Tetris is known to intervene with the way these memories are created in the mind by distracting it from flashbacks or reliving them.(source)

15. In 2005 a highly contagious virtual plague ensued in World of Warcraft game draining points, killing many low-level players and causing others to abandon cities. The incident, known as Corrupted Blood, attracted the attention of epidemiologists and counter-terrorism researchers to learn how the real world would react to an epidemic.

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Corrupted Blood was a spell that two raiders used on players when they raided cities. The effects were meant to last only a few seconds but a glitch in the game caused it to last longer and to spread to other players, their pets and other creatures.

The incident caused panic among players and led them into emptying their cities despite efforts to quarantine the infected players. After a week’s pandemonium the glitch was corrected with some patches.(source)

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