Video Games have a long history of helping people with their medical problems. I remember a very early edition of Nintendo Power about a kid who almost lost his sight. While in the hospital, he had a NES with Super Mario Bros. 3 to play, but all he could make out was a blob. The exercise his eyes got by playing this game day after day dramatically improved his eyesight much faster than the doctors thought possible.
And i’m sure we all remember the Wii craze, and how it was put in all of the senior citizen’s homes to help them exercise and keep their cognitive function healthier for longer. Or how it helped surgeons hone their craft without operating on a body.
Now a study has come out of the Gains Through Gaming lab at NC State that playing games like the Massively Multiplayer Online game World of Warcraft can help seniors with their cognative thinking and reasoning. The study found that Any game that has you multitasking and switching between multiple cognitive abilities such as memory and spatial manipulations, and reasoning. The game doesn’t have to be WoW, but it is the biggest so it is easiest for people to relate to.
The data found that 14 older adults (7 men, 7 women) with an average age of 69 years completed a pretesting session that included measures of processing speed, executive functioning, mental rotation, after which they completed a two-hour WoW training session where they learned the basics of WoW. Participants were then given a copy of World of Warcraft to install on their computer and instructed to play the game for at least one hour a day for 2 weeks. After two weeks of play time with an average of 15 hours, participants returned for a posttest and they discovered that it greatly improved their performance. “Specifically, significant pretest to posttest improvements were found for tests measuring executive functioning, spatial ability, thinking speed, basic memory, and everyday memory” said researchers.