Super Mario Bro’s – A Game Design Masterclass
05 May 22
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Love gaming? Here we look at the effects of gaming on the brain…
If you’re doing a game development or game design degree at university, you’ll be fully immersed into the world of video games. And the likelihood is you’re an avid gamer yourself, with many years of experience in the gaming chair.
But what are the effects of gaming on the brain? Is frequent gaming good for brain health and cognitive function? Or can it have a negative impact on your health?
So firstly, let’s explore the good. Video games have long been demonised as a bad influence, particularly on children, but research shows that playing games can be incredibly beneficial to healthy brain function and development.
Published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, a systematic review of 116 scientific studies reveals that video games impact the structure and activity of the brain, helping to improve several types of attention, including sustained attention and selective attention.
Even more positive is the fact that these regions of the brain that control attention span are actually more efficient in gamers compared with non-gamers! This makes certain aspects of gaming good for brain performance, not just for the playing of games, but transferable across other activities too, including work and study.
Additionally, the review also found that video games can increase the size (and competence) of the parts of the brain responsible for visuospatial skills. These skills are essential for things we do in real life, such as driving, sports or dancing.
Like anything we do in life, there are pros and cons, and a sweet spot that means we’re not doing too much. While there are some amazingly positive effects of gaming on the brain (many of which can increase our mental performance in class or at work), it’s important not to overdo it.
Gaming to the point of obsession can have a detrimental impact on your work life, family life and romantic relationships. Gaming additions are very real, and becoming addicted to the dopamine from playing video games can mean losing interest in other things.
Furthermore, it’s possible to get repetitive stress injuries on your wrist, hand or thumb tendons. So taking regular breaks from gaming is a must. Our advice is to have a balanced approach to gaming and other hobbies, and making sure you are able to recognise when things are being done in excess.
Everything we choose to do must be done in moderation. The evidence that supports the positive effects of gaming on the brain are stacking up, but a well-adjusted daily schedule (such as exercising, spending time with friends or family, studying and relaxing) is important.
For students doing game design degrees or game development courses at university, finding this balance is even more important. Because you’ll be living and breathing everything to do with games.
If you need to take a break from your computer screen, we recommend activities such as going for a walk, jogging, cycling or enjoying a coffee break with a friend.
Are you interested in studying a game design degree? We offer a range of game design and game development courses at the University of Bolton, including undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.
To find out more about applying in 2022, see our available courses here.
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