Playing Video Games Can Actually Make You Smarter Than Those Fancy Brain Training Apps

Forget Brain Age and get your Gears of War on. 

Planning on playing through Halo 5 and Call of Duty: Black Ops III when they drop in the coming weeks? Friends still reciting that tired old jab “Video games are for stupid people?” First off, you need new friends, because those aren’t friends. Second, guess what? Action video games could actually be improving your cognitive abilities, in more meaningful ways than even titles like Brain Age or Big Brain Academy.

According to an article from Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, a Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS) journal, researchers posit the following:

“The term video games refers to thousands of quite disparate types of experiences, anything from simple computerized card games to richly detailed and realistic fantasy worlds, from a purely solitary activity to an activity including hundreds of others, etc. A useful analogy is to the term food – one would never ask, ‘What is the effect of eating food on the body?’ Instead, it is understood that the effects of a given type of food depend on the composition of the food such as the number of calories; the percentage of protein, fat, and carbohydrates; the vitamin and mineral content; and so on.”

After performing extensive research, the team actually concluded that  “games that feature quickly moving targets that come in and out of view, include large amounts of clutter, and that require the user to make rapid, accurate decisions” demonstrate leaps in learning gains for players, measuring higher than the brain games commonly advertised specifically for this reason.

It makes sense if you think about it. Those Brain Age games are a series of logic puzzles and tests that force you to think, but in the end you’re only really “exercising” a select few areas of your brain. When you’re actively engaged in a shootout or some craziness you might see in other action games, you’re not only engaging the problem-solving parts of your brain. It’s alight with all sorts of action.

So the next time you whip out a Battlefield game or something of the sort, know that you could very well be doing your brain some good, especially since the study notes that “Video games, by their very nature, involve predominately active forms of learning (i.e., making responses and receiving immediate informative feedback), which is typically more effective than passive learning.” Take that, naysayers.