9 ways to boost your intelligence by playing video games

Video games get a bad rap. They are often portrayed as violent, addictive, and a mindless waste of hours that encourage laziness and make us fat.

But that’s not the full story.

Most virtual games can be designed to have educational and physical benefits for players. Games that use repetitive actions, such as the swinging of a bat or targeting a moving object, train the brain and muscles to perform better in real-life activities.

Video game brain training has the same effect as reading a book or riding a bike — when the brain is learning, thousands of new connections are being formed. The addition of a reward system motivates players to continuously improve their skills.

That’s good news, since computer gaming is a big business. The global gaming industry was worth $US67 billion (£43 billion) in 2013 and is projected to grow to $US82 billion (£52 billion) by 2017.

People who play action-based games make accurate decisions 25% faster.

Activision

Fast-paced games require quick thinking and fast reactions so you don't get killed. In real-life situations, active gamers have a better sense of what is going around them and are able to make decisions faster, according to scientists from the University of Rochester.

In one study, participants aged 18 to 25 were split into two groups. One group played 50 hours of first-person shooter games 'Call of Duty 2' and 'Unreal Tournament.' The other group played 50 hours of the simulator game 'The Sims 2.' The action game players made decisions 25% faster in a task unrelated to playing video games, without sacrificing accuracy.

'Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time. If you are a surgeon or you are in the middle of a battlefield, that can make all the difference,' study researcher Daphne Bavelier said in a statement.

Video games improve vision.

Piotr Krzeslak/Shutterstock

Another study led by Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester, showed that video games improve vision by making players more sensitive to slightly different shades of colour, known as contrast sensitivity.

People who played action-based video games -- particularly first-person-shooter games -- were 58% better at perceiving fine differences in contrast, the researchers said.

'When people play action games, they're changing the brain's pathway responsible for visual processing,' Bavelier said in a statement. The training might be helping the visual system to make better use of the information it receives.

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