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Gaming is Good For Your Brain

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Educational games are increasing in popularity in both educational and corporate settings.  There are inherent benefits to gaming when it comes to learning, but we are starting to see that gaming is also proving to be beneficial beyond just a learning environment.  Gaming is also being used in therapy across many different disciplines.

To demonstrate the power gaming can have over the human mind, let’s take a look at a powerful example.  Recently, the benefits of gaming on mental stimulation was used on a U.S. marine burn victim who was undergoing surgery for his wounds.  During his operation, the victim played a game called SnowWorld that put him into a 3D snowball fight. With the game, he thought about the pain less than 25% off the time. Without the game, he thought about the pain 75% of the time.

This example demonstrates that gaming has a profound impact on cognitive abilities, which is the primary reason why we are seeing games supplement elearning today.  Games also foster social environments.  One study found that 65% of people playing games play with a friend present.  The entire concept of a game often involves multiple parties – a perfect asset for companies and educational institutions to leverage.

Speaking of which, within an educational environment, video games have been shown to improve early literacy in four and five year olds, especially when it comes to comprehension and letter recognition.  In a corporate setting, more than 100 Fortune 500 companies have adopted gaming for training purposes. Heck, even surgeons who actively game were reportedly 27% faster at procedure and made 37% fewer errors compared to those who did not.

The proof is there when it comes to gaming and the positive impacts it can have on our brains, learning comprehension, and translating that learning into real behaviors.  If you don’t have some sort of gaming infused in your learning or LMS, then you are missing a big opportunity to improve upon your learning effectiveness.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the Founder of LearnDash, a WordPress based LMS and Learning Strategy provider. He also works as a Learning & Collaboration Consultant where he implements large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies.

8 Comments
  1. By co-incidence, the folks at Open Learning at the University of NSW in Sydney, Australia (a Tier 1 Research Uni), have today announced a free short course that is very much along the lines of this blog post. See below link for details:
    openlearning.com/courses/gamify

    You will notice the use of Xtra Normal etc. in the promo video.

  2. Kenny Russ Warren

    Games have always been a major part of my 45-year teaching strategy. I consider myself the Mnemonic King of the World, but mnemonics is only one small part of my gamesmanship. If I needed to thank anybody for helping me to offer students learning through games it would be the wonderful teacher who started Scholastic Scope Magazine and Company. That New York company is a giant in encouraging kids to learn through fun materials.

  3. Kenneth Russell Warren

    Sorry, I am in the midst of publishing a novel and wish to use my pen name ‘Kenny Russ Warren’ hitherto. Novel should be available in e-book form in a couple of weeks and print book form by Aug/Sept.

  4. Jim Harris

    Interesting post,I can see crossover with the work of Jayne Gackenbach who focussed on impact of gameplay on the mind. Recommend her podcasts Video Games Brain gain or drain as there is interesting practical application of sensory transfer through gameplay. I wonder the implications of desensitisation which are commonly seen as negative could have similar beneficial psychological application in trauma management, focussing senses away from damage and towards immersive distraction.

  5. Your article covers a lot of ground, but it misses the effects of games on cognitive abilities. This generation of kids who are growing up playing games on iPads are probably undergoing a new step in human evolution.

  6. Laura Willson

    I’m piloting- and loving- having students teach themselves by flipping the classroom, and the gaming element is very important. We use a platform for kids called Nanoogo to have the kids make “posts” on what they are learning, and the fact that they earn points keeps many very motivated. It’s a great tool to recognize effort and hard work. Any behavior we want to encourage, we tie to some sort of recognition. Even self-motivated learners like to have their work recognized. I think it’s an important step in a new paradigm of learning.

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