A study that used MMO World of Warcraft to test cognitive functioning in seniors seems non-controversial. In today’s political climate, everything is a source of disagreement. Eric Cantor, Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives, listed the study as wasteful spending in a release from his office.
The North Carolina State study discovered that playing WoW increased the cognitive skills of several seniors, particularly those who scored low during the initial testing. The subjects in the study were aged 60-77. An experimental group played WoW for 14 hours over two weeks before re-evaluation. The control group didn’t play. The game didn’t seem to affect the scores of people who already scored high on memory, focus and spatial awareness. But Dr. Anne McLaughlin, co-author of the paper that detailed the study, said gaming was extremely effective for the group that needed it most.
The results are similar to that of a University College London study that showed cab drivers’ grey matter actually increased as they memorize routes. While the destinations in Azeroth may be fictional, learning the quickest way to them still appears to have a brain-boosting effect.
North Carolina State’s “Gains Through Gaming” lab performed the study. It is dedicated to identifying the games and gaming situations that create the highest benefits to psychological functioning. Gamers aren’t surprised by these findings. Doctors have said for years that the brain needs regular exercise like any other muscle. Anyone who has matched wits with Professor Layton or racked up combos in Tetris can speak to the challenge involved.
After the Newtown school shootings, Cantor’s colleagues in Washington are still proposing more video game studies, many looking at the link between games and violence. Vice President Joe Biden met with game industry professionals to discuss the issue. President Barack Obama asked Congress to set aside $10 million so the Center for Disease Prevention and Control can study video game violence.
Source [Eric Cantor]