A recent trial study has found that playing two hours of video games a week can make you more employable. The study, conducted by Matt Barr, a Glasgow University lecturer, suggests that modern video games reward critical thinking and problem solving, qualities that are sought in university graduates. Some of the games involved in the study were Borderlands 2, Minecraft, Portal 2, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, and Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.
The study took place over an eight week period and involved a group of 36 undergraduates, split in two. The first half was the control group and the second was told to play eight different video games, logging in 14 hours of playtime over the course of the study. Both control group and the gaming group completed surveys before and after which measured different skills.
The findings were resounding: the group that played games over the period saw increased communication skills, adaptability, resourcefulness, and critical thinking, compared to the control group.
Mr. Barr said of the study:
"Modern video games often require players to be adaptable and resourceful, and finding multiple ways of accomplishing a task. The way games are designed often encourages critical thinking and reflective learning, commonly cited as desirable attributes in graduates. "
This is a far cry from the long-held position that video games rot your brain, or sap your motivation. As video games continue to be consumed by an ever wider market, and they gain mainstream acceptance, we will likely see more studies touting the positive effects of gaming on cognitive abilities.
The game labs involved in the study were open from 9-5 every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, on a drop in basis. Participants were required to log at least 120 minutes on most of the titles, which added up to the 14 hours needed in the 8 week study. Despite the small sample size of the study, the results were incredible. 81% of participants in the game-playing group showed improved resourcefulness, as opposed to 40% in the control group.
While this points to a brighter future for gaming, there are significant problems within the gaming community that need to be addressed. A recent study found that a majority of young people are subjected to high amounts of bullying while playing online or multiplayer games.
The study, by a UK anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label, conducted a survey of 2500 people between ages 12-26 and found that 57% had been bullied while playing an online game.