Level Up Your Decision-Making: How Strategy Games Can Enhance Your Cognitive Skills
The youth of today have grown up being scolded by older generations for spending too much time playing video games. We’ve all heard the ‘your eyes will go square if you stare at that screen for too long’ – or comments along those lines meant to discourage us from being stuck inside gaming all day.
But just how bad are video games for humans? Well, we would argue that there are actually a lot of benefits from playing video games (beyond the obvious, awesome level of enjoyment that comes with them). In fact, video games – particularly strategy games – can be really beneficial for one’s cognitive abilities.
The Art of Strategic Decision-Making
Strategy games require more than just waggling your fingers around a remote for a short period. Many of these games are designed to be both mentally stimulating and challenging, forcing players to think long and hard in order to come up with a solution that bests the problems posed in-game.
There is also a level of creative output required for these games. From the get-go, many of these games require unique fantasy names that your character adopts throughout the playthrough. Thinking up a suitable name to appear in every cut scene can be quite a challenge, and this is where creatives really blossom. You’ll need to think about your character build, the lore behind your character, and the decisions you make – many of these things impact how the game will play out.
Real-time strategy games require players to make in-game decisions at a rapid rate in response to incoming stimuli: dodge this punch; counter that attack; solve this problem before your character dies; choose a wife to serve as your queen of the kingdom, etc. The outcome of these decisions can have rippling effects throughout a player’s entire experience of the game, and so their choices prove to carry significant weight.
It’s thought that this decision-making process can actually prove beneficial to one’s cognitive capabilities. For the anime nerds out there, think of Shikamaru from Naruto. Lazy as he is, his ability to execute effective strategies when playing games against his sensei makes him an incredibly wise military commander when a real-life war hits.
Effective Problem Solving
While a lot of strategy games revolve around combat, aspects of good old-fashioned problem-solving are abundant in some popular video games. Some console games require players to connect via their mobile phones to play cooperatively, and some of the best games in this genre involve difficult problem-solving. While the actual immersive gameplay of these games is limited, the problem-solving abilities and effective communication required from players make these types of games a great way to keep the brain engaged and ticking, and they are also an intriguing way to compete with friends.
Considering this, it’s hard to say that all video games are mind-numbing or brain-destroying. Rather, they can actually stimulate our brains in an effective experience of challenging problem-solving. From drafting the perfect war plans to shaping the perfect formation in a game of football, video games require deep thinking and cognitive capabilities. Who are we to stop people from reaping these benefits?