The Variety of Games and Their Influence on Our Brain Activity
Today, we no longer need to demonstrate the effects that video games have in the context of our mental health. Many studies prove its effectiveness of different games and the improvement of specific cognitive skills that they can bring. This type of activity becomes more and more widespread and is considered useful for people!
Nevertheless, one wonders how the brain works when we play, what the overall process looks like, and why we like a particular game.
Being far from the intention to make psychology or neurological medicine presentation here, we still would like to emphasize some aspects that are quite interesting and helpful for better understanding the issue of video games or gamification, in particular. To start with, games prove to be a true ally in the development of our education.
According to Johan Huizinga, Man is defined by three main characteristics: Homo Sapiens, Homo Faber, and Homo Ludens — knowledge, manufacturing, and playfulness. And, the latter here is an important element in the cultural development of the human being.
Stuart Brown, meanwhile, tells us that playing is vital in the same way as it is for some animal species. For example, the rat, for whom the game is an opportunity to develop its brain, or, the cat. The game is also a way to social connection for dolphins, the most intelligent animal species.
Steve Keil, in turn, proclaims that the game is the innate phenomenon. Moreover, it develops our intelligence and creativity.
Play Games without Risk
From a scientific point of view, a game could be vital to our development because our brain is constantly trying to create patterns or otherwise models, structures, and mechanisms. In his lectures, Julian Alvarez illustrates this mechanism by providing the example of learning to drive that influences all our senses. At first, it's not easy because you have to learn to handle the car with your hands and feet. Then, external elements such as road signs, other vehicles, pedestrians, etc. are added.
Your brain will create a mechanism to assemble everything until it becomes an automatism without even having to think about it. When it has created this pattern, your mind will allow you to add music or talk to the passenger.
Our brain is very greedy of these patterns and will try to create as much as possible because thus, it is rewarded with dopamine — its favorite food that gives us joy and euphoria.
At this stage, the video game is created the same way. It not only incorporates repetitive functions that allow players to assimilate but contains additional challenges in each level that will complement the pattern created in the previous level. The bottom line is that a level is neither too easy nor too difficult; otherwise, the first will make us immerse into boredom and the second — give it up because of its infeasibility.
One of the frequently recommended criteria in creating a Serious Game is to integrate the grip and rules of the game into the first level. Not only will the player learn to master the game by playing while a theory might repulse him without even having touched the game itself.
Attention and Сoncentration
According to a study conducted by the neuroscience department at the University of Rochester, visual attention becomes significantly less fatigued for a player than a non-player. Their attention is also more developed because the player can perceive several objects at the same time when they look for a target — it allows them to be more focused.
In short, the playing video games responds to the characteristics of our brain or at least its operation. No doubt, it brings its benefits in terms of education. In a few decades, games will perhaps be an integral part of our daily academic life.