As gamers, we've often had to justify the fact that we love this art form. Each one of us has spend countless hours in front of our monitors, fully engaged in these fabricated universes. To many, this recreational activity/job/sport denotes negative connotations. They say that gamers are anti-social, are damaging their eyesight, and are prone to attention problems. We know it's lies.
Taking a look at games like X-COM, and particularly X-COM: Enemy Unknown (a game which I absolutely adore), researchers have sought to understand how our brains process the act of playing Video Games. The results may actually surprise even you, and if X-COM 2 continues along the same path as Enemy Unknown, it can actually positively increase cognitive brain function!
The Gameplay of X-COM 2 Could Actually Make You Smarter!
Seriously, X-COM 2 looks stunning, doesn't it?! But more than being something to look forward to, the gameplay of Firaxis Games' next title could continue a rather unusual legacy. According to a report by the Silicon Valley research group, S.R.I. International, video games can actually raise cognitive function for students, and improve puzzle-solving capabilities and memory.
We're all probably aware that games can improve a number of additional functions, such as hand-eye co-ordination, pattern discrimination, spacial visualization abilities, and reaction time. Check this out:
Video games change your brain [...] The powerful combination of concentration and rewarding surges of neurotransmitters like dopamine strengthen neural circuits in much the same the way that exercise builds muscles… Games definitely hit the reward system in a way that not all activities do. - University of Wisconsin psychologist C. Shawn Green
If you really want to dive into this topic - and I highly recommend you do - check out this fascinating TED Talk on how video games change your brain:
Look Mom, Video Games Are Good For Me!
But what does this have to do with X-COM? Well, in the study that I referenced above, researchers gave a list of ten games that they found required gamers to "adapt, learn, change, and become smarter." The top four in descending order were as follows: Starcraft II, X-COM: Enemy Unknown, League of Legends, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive.
Each of these games will enhance different aspects of your brain's cognitive functions. Each title presents you with a very different environment and requires very different skills in order to become proficient in. If X-COM 2 maintains the same level of difficulty with its gameplay, you may actually be improving your smarts while playing. Just another reason to prepare yourself for its release date on February 5th!