Video Games have mostly been perceived as a bad influence by the general media, with various studies and research coming to the conclusion that they are causing violent behavior among teens, inciting sexism and so on. This latest study goes a step further and implies that playing shooters/FPS games can cause brain damage.
Conducted in the University of Montreal, Canada, the study was conducted on 100 people who were asked to play shooters like Call of Duty and Killzone for 90 hours. The study claimed that after this period the Hippocampus of the players had reduces in size, which can lead to memory loss and depression.
On the other hand, playing games like Mario showed an increase in the same region. The study said that having an in game mini map or GPS led players to go in an autopilot mode while having to find your own way meant that their brains were more stimulated in a positive manner.
“Because spatial strategies were shown to be associated with increases in hippocampal grey matter during video game playing, it remains possible that response learners could be encouraged to use spatial strategies to counteract against negative effects on the hippocampal system,” the study says, offering an out for action-game manufacturers: change the design.
Now, “players can easily choose to navigate with a response-route-following strategy without relying on the relationships between landmarks, fundamental to the spatial strategy. […] Action video games designed without in-game GPS, or [without] wayfinding routes overlaid on the game’s display for the player to follow, could better encourage spatial learning during action video game playing.”
As an example, the constant way-pointing in games like Skyrim or Wildlands is bad for the brain. On the other hand, a game like Metal Gear Solid V – which does not have a mini map – needs more spacial awareness from the player, and hence has a positive impact on the player.
There you go folks, science has spoken – Play good games!