Video Games Make for Better Decision-Making: Report

Dennis Faas's picture

Can playing video games make you smarter?

While there may not be oodles of benefits for those who spend hours in front of the television regularly, a new study suggests gaming may actually help to improve the way we process information.

According to researchers at the University of Rochester, video gamers are very good at probabilistic inference, which in layman's terms simply means that they're better at making rapid, quality decisions based on evidence around them. In essence, educated researchers (many of whom may be gamers) found that gamers make for good researchers. (Source:

"Playing video games is like learning a kind of new visual language," says author James Paul Gee. Unlike reading a book passively, playing a video game is all about active exploration. (Source:

Decision-Making Improves During Game Play

Even more startling, the University of Rochester experts say they noticed considerable improvement in decision-making amongst non-gamers who were tasked with playing for a 50-hour period.

The researchers' report, which was recently published in the journal Current Biology, says that people who play video games successfully identified direction more rapidly and accurately than non-gamers.

Shooter Fans Get Best Results

And surprisingly (or not), it was the "shooter," or in some cases the most violent games, that showed the best results.

University of Rochester professor Daphne Bavelier said that those who excelled the most at direction/decision tests played "shooter games, where you go through a maze and you don't know when a villain will appear. It's not exactly what you'd think of as mind enhancing." (Source:

The report suggests that games force players to adapt to the spontaneous matrix that are most modern shooting video games. "Unlike standard learning paradigms, which have a highly specific solution, there is no such specific solution in action video games because situations are rarely, if ever, repeated," it read.

"Thus, the only characteristics that can be learned are how to rapidly and accurately learn the statistics on the fly and how to accumulate this evidence more efficiently."

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