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Yesterday, I went to my friend's house and as usual he was glued to his PS4 playin' video games. When I asked him about it, he said that playing video games is a nice thing as it improves your reflexes & reaction time. It also sharpens your mind.

I am curious to know whether it is a true fact or not?

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From own experience: Yes. I remember when I played paintball for the first (and last) time, having played plenty of FPS before. In my very first encounter with an enemy, I gave him a headshot before even realizing what happened. I quit the match after that and never played paintball again, so it might have been just beginners luck. –  Lars Ebert Aug 5 at 14:33
@LarsEbert: IIRC there was some study in US when they've tested gamers/non-gamers on a gun range. Overall scores were the sames, but non-gamers were going for center-of-the-mass, while gamers were going for headshots. I can't find reference now though :-/ –  vartec Aug 5 at 15:27
Since this is skeptics, allow me to express doubt that your friend actually plays video games 24x7. –  David Conrad Aug 5 at 15:49
@DavidConrad Yes, it's true. He is just mad about video games. –  The God Damn Geek 'ANIMESH' Aug 6 at 3:32
@warren I know, but according to the test mention, gamers had roughly same amount of hits, even though aiming for the head. The conclusion there was that "games do not improve real life marksmanship". A conclusion which IMO could be disputed –  vartec Aug 8 at 21:43

2 Answers 2

up vote 28 down vote accepted

Indeed there are studies showing FPS to improve visuospatial processing and memory abilities.

State effects of action video-game playing on visuospatial processing efficiency and attention among experienced action video-game players


Although researchers have speculated action video gaming might induce the state of “flow experience”, most previous experimental studies have focused primarily on the long-term (trait) effects of action video gaming, while overlooking possible short-term (state) effects characterizing the “flow” state. The goal of the current research was to investigate the state effects of action video games on visual-spatial processing efficiency and visual-spatial attention. We compared the baseline performance of experienced action video game players on two visual-spatial tasks and Attention Network Test with their performance on these tasks immediately after action video-gaming. The findings indicate half an hour of action video-game playing temporarily boosted participants’ performances on tasks that require visual memory, spatial transformations (mental rotation), and executive network of attention. The existence of such enhanced cognitive states implies the possibility of consciously accessing the latent resources of our brain and boosting our attentional and visual capacity upon demand. Keywords: enhanced cognitive states, visual-spatial processing efficiency, attention, action video game (source)

Recent study from Oxford University claims that "Children who play video games for a short period each day seem to have small but significantly improved levels of development". However, they found negative effects associated with gaming for more than 3 hours a day. They did not attempt to establish causality.

Electronic Gaming and Psychosocial Adjustment

RESULTS: Low levels (<1 hour daily) as well as high levels (>3 hours daily) of game engagement was linked to key indicators of psychosocial adjustment. Low engagement was associated with higher life satisfaction and prosocial behavior and lower externalizing and internalizing problems, whereas the opposite was found for high levels of play. No effects were observed for moderate play levels when compared with non-players.

CONCLUSIONS: The links between different levels of electronic game engagement and psychosocial adjustment were small (<1.6% of variance) yet statistically significant. Games consistently but not robustly associated with children’s adjustment in both positive and negative ways, findings that inform policy-making as well as future avenues for research in the area.


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FPSs? First study I heard on the subject (it's a shame I can't find it now) was with Tetris, back before the FPS genre even existed. It showed that extensive experience playing Tetris definitely improved reflexes and spatial reasoning, which should surprise exactly no one familiar with the game. –  Mason Wheeler Aug 5 at 22:09
@MasonWheeler: That's funny, I remember reading about a study that actually used Tetris as a control, which didn't show much of an improvement (but FPS and other fast-twitch games did). I don't know the specific study, but it was cited in the Invisible Gorilla book. –  Aaronaught Aug 5 at 22:11
@MasonWheeler: AFAIK two characteristics of FPS that play a role: a) players memorizing map layout (often non-planar one); b) players subconsciously calculating path of temporarily occluded opponent. And of course FPS are currently popular among kids, which can't be said about Tetris. –  vartec Aug 6 at 14:01

There actually is evidence that playing video games may improve

spatial orientation, memory formation and strategic planning as well as fine motor skills.

Please see the study Brain regions can be specifically trained with video games. Anyway, I doubt, that playing 24/7 may have an overall positive effect. There may be a training effect on some brain regions, but the benefit may easily be consumed by potential damages/declines of other regions.

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