Gaming Grannies: ‘World of Warcraft’ Boosts Cognitive Abilities


Credit: Couple photo via Shutterstock

Gaming Grannies: ‘World of Warcraft’ Boosts Cognitive Abilities

Playing a popular online game mayِ improve someِ older adults’ abilities toِ focus theirِ attention, a newِ study suggests.
Those whoِ spent twoِ weeks playing World ofِ Warcraft — a game inِ which players takeِ onِ the role ofِ a character, andِ role-play withِ othersِ inِ fighting monsters andِ completing quests — improved moreِ on tests ofِ attention andِ of spatial abilities thanِ those whoِ didn’tِ play theِ game, theِ results showed.
However, theِ amount ofِ improvement depended onِ a person’s ability atِ the start — thoseِ with theِ lowest baseline scores improved theِ most, whereasِ thoseِ with theِ highest scores atِ the outset gained noِ benefit fromِ playing theِ game.

The findings were published online on Feb.
17 in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Games and brains

The 20 people assigned toِ play theِ game attended a training session, whereِ theِ rules ofِ World ofِ Warcraft wereِ explained.
After twoِ weeks, thoseِ who played theِ game sawِ moreِ improvement inِ their ability toِ control theirِ attention compared withِ thoseِ who hadn’t played theِ game.
The researchers alsoِ found thatِ among participants whoِ played theِ game, thoseِ who hadِ scored theِ lowest atِ the study’s start onِ the attention test andِ spatial abilities test improved theِ most.

The game brought no improvement in participants’ memory skills, according to the study.

Does it matter when you start playing?

With aging, people’s abilities toِ control theirِ attention andِ learn newِ information decline, according toِ theِ study.
But theِ newِ study foundِ that notِ to beِ the case: thereِ was noِ relationship betweenِ participants’ ages andِ their improvement onِ the tests afterِ playing theِ game.
The researchers saidِ that theirِ study wasِ limited inِ that participants couldِ not beِ randomly assigned toِ eitherِ the game-playing group orِ the control group, becauseِ only people withِ a computer andِ home Internet connection couldِ beِ in theِ game-playing group.