How Video Games Can Affect the Brain

Video games are very popular among children of all the ages. And, due to our tech pace world, it is continuing to grow even more. Children and even the adults find video games as their mode of entertainment. They play these games whenever they are getting bored or want to take a short break from their work and studies.

These games try to change the mind and mood of individuals and they feel much relaxed than before. Due to its ever-growing demand, scientists have researched to find out the effects of video games on human brains.

Video games and changes in brain

It has been found out that gaming can cause changes in many regions of the brain. Studies show some structural changes in the brain due to video games and also several changes in brain functionality and behavior.

1. Increase attention

We need focus and attention while playing a game otherwise, we will lose it. Therefore, video games have resulted in improving several types of attention in human beings, including selective attention and sustained attention. Furthermore, attention seeking regions of the brain are more efficient in gamers when compared with non-gamers, and they need less activation to stay focused on various tasks.

2. Size of the brain

Playing video games has also shown to increase the size and competence of the parts of the brain that are responsible for visuospatial skills (ability to identify visual and spatial relationships among objects). With long-term gamers who have followed a game training plan, their right hippocampus has been enlarged.

3. Gaming addicts

When talking about gaming addicts, there are some structural and functional alterations in the neural reward system (a group of structures associated with feeling pleasure, motivation, and learning). When we expose these video game addicts to any game-related signals or signs, it causes cravings and also monitors their brain’s responses.

4. Help boost your memory

Brain training games even help in boosting the formations of memories of an individual. Moreover, it also helps in improving the two other significant cognitive areas, working memory and sustained attention. These skills are maintained for 6 months after the completion of training.

5. Declining in brain-related diseases

When we talk about the diseases, each and every person wants a disease-free life. What if, it can be done with the help of a video game?

Yes, strategy-based games, have shown to promote an improvement in brain functioning among older adults and may provide some protection against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Also, a little brain training can help to reverse some of the age-related brain decline.

Overall, these games prove out to be valuable as it is a stress buster, improves brain functioning, cures diseases, besides being a source of entertainment. But, there is always a second side of a coin. Here, spending too much time playing the video game can be harmful for children as well as adults. Talking about the children, it can hamper their studies while weakening their eyesight as these games are played on a screen. And, adults can hamper their work while playing the games at offices.

Nostalgia in Games

Nostalgia. The word brings to mind a joyous familiarity felt when engaging in something in the present that we really enjoyed doing in the past. Gaming is no different. Everyone has games that bring back memories from, what we think of now as, better times. Hindsight is a like the snob that points out what you could have done, hindsight tells us our childhood may not have been as bad as we thought. As adults we know how the world works. When we were growing up, we never really had a grip on the world. Hindsight tells us that those times were better, safer, less complicated. Games that bring on nostalgia puts us in the mindset of a kid again. It makes us feel safe, secure, and protected. Humans have a natural tendency to want safety and protection. Especially the adults, because as adults we know just how quickly the world can go from OK one day, to horrible the next. As gamers we seek safety and security in games.

I started gaming when I was very young as most gamers my age did. I grew up playing Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 with my mom and sister. Super Mario, Kirby, and Mario Cart were a few of the titles that we played. Zelda was perhaps the biggest game we played. My mom has problems with fast-moving games like Call of Duty and other highly graphic games. So we played Super Nintendo and what a time it was! Zelda on the Super Nintendo we beat many times. I say “we” but it was my mom playing not me or my sister. Even thinking about it while writing this I’m getting nostalgia. We kept getting close to the end and then the game wiping our save out so we started over like three times. It was good times. That was when I was around six or seven or eight. Long time ago. Nostalgia gives us hope for the future. It tells us that if good times happened in the past then more good times will happen in the future.

Later I started gaming on my own. It is hard to think about what game came next in chronological order but they all had a theme: single-player strategy. A broad gaming description that can fit a lot of games in it. Games like Pharaoh and Cleopatra, Age of Empires II, and of course Sid Meier’s Civilization III. I was not allowed to play shooters as they had bad language in them and so was restricted to single player games. My parents were very protective and games were not as prevalent twenty years ago as they are now. Pharaoh is a city builder placing you in ancient Egypt. The goal of the game was the build great cities using the resources at your disposal and it was quite a challenge for an eleven year old. Age of Empires II is a real-time strategy game that is completely different from pharaoh. You have to balance resource collection and troop production to take down either AI or other players. Civ III was probably my favorite game growing up. To this day, I still play pharaoh and age of empires II.

Think about what nostalgia is again for just a second. It is a feeling coming from a memory. A memory of “better times” that may or may not be accurate. Games we played a long time ago, that brings back those memories, might not continue to be fun. Civ III I played for hundreds of hours when I was younger is not as fun now that I am older so I do not play it as much now. Sometimes nostalgia lies.

In conclusion, nostalgia in games is a good thing. It allows us to relive parts of our childhood that we otherwise would not have a reason to bring back up from the depths of our minds. Many people say that video games lead to anti-social behavior, violence, and a drop in school grades. Video games teach us how the world is. When you are playing multiplayer of any game you will usually find people who are just toxic. It prepares for dealing with the worst society has to throw at us. Human beings are prone to violence. The first murder happened when Cain killed Abel back in Genesis. I am pretty sure at they did not have video games back then. So this point is always going to be moot. The only point that actually makes sense is the drop in school grades. It takes a great deal of discipline to do school work over video games. It builds character this discipline. So next time you feel nostalgia coming on, take some time to stop and smell the memories. Bask in the thoughts of better times and the hope that good times are still ahead, no matter what the world tells you in the present. This is what video game nostalgia teaches us.

Why Games As A Service Will Kill Video Games

Video games have been around for quite some time now. They are many peoples favorite past time, and even a way to make money. Playing video games turned from a hobby to a job very quickly, especially when video and live streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch came to rise. With these platforms, many people picked up their controllers hoping that they would become the next gamer who makes millions doing what they love. With more people playing games the developers for the games need to dish out better and more up to date products. Even if these products are not the best, they do it all for the money in the end, because it is a business.

When video games were first released they were an incredible feat and all were unique in their own way. Even though they did not look that great back in the 80’s and 90’s they offered something that even a lot of games today don’t offer. And that something is quality. Within the last 5 years or so video games started to become more of a service than an actual piece of entertainment. Slowly top Triple A developers started to incorporate microtransactions in their games, very different from DLC (Downloadable Content). DLC was always an expansion or more added content to make the game have more playability, in turn making the gamers more entertained and wanting more. The problem lies within video games that try to sell pieces of their game that should have been for free or unlocked by actually playing the game instead of just putting in a credit card number to unlocked said heroes or items. This is a common practice recently and it has raised a lot of issues, and even many countries consider “loot boxes” gambling, which in reality it is. A loot box in video games is when a player either uses in-game currency or real currency to get a random item or a random set of items. Now the value of these items is based on a scale, some players will receive rare or higher quality items compared to others simply based on odds. This is mainly aimed at the younger gamers who are more naive and are willing to spend whatever money they have on a game to make themselves look cooler or play better. All just to get ahead of the curve.

This practice is extremely dangerous not only because it promotes gambling to children, but it can be extremely addictive. There are many cases in which people spend thousands of dollars just to get a single item or to buff up their character or team. Clearly, the developers do not care, because it is just more money for them, but they never look at what this can do to a person’s livelihood and even their families.

The main reason these practices are implemented is for the developers to keep generating money even after the game is released. Based on the statistics microtransactions make more overall than the game itself, and those types of game series are released on a yearly basis with little to no changes in the actual video game itself. It is extremely rare to find a completed game at any store or marketplace that doesn’t offer micro transactions, even if they do not impact gameplay it still is a major issue.

If developers want to keep gamers entertained and invested in their video games then they should develop quality games instead of creating games that are barely finished loaded with micro transactions. The games as a service trend are slowly killing the quality of video games. Sooner or later people will not even be allowed to fully own the game, everything will just be a rental, but the player still needs to buy a code to play the rental and then pay the rental to play the game which is not even theirs. Look how crazy that sounds!? The only way this all will change is if the player chooses to change.