Playing video games could be good for young people, helping develop communications and mental adaptability skills

June 5, 2017, University of Glasgow
Playing video games could be good for young people, helping develop the communications and mental adaptability skil
Credit: University of Glasgow

Playing video games could help young people develop the communications and mental adaptability skills required to succeed at university.

A trial, by the University of Glasgow, to assess the effects of on concludes gaming can help young people develop the desired higher education skills sometimes referred to as 'graduate attributes'.

Research by Matthew Barr, a lecturer in Information Studies, shows that playing games actually improved student communication skills, resourcefulness and adaptability and may have a role to play in higher education.

Over an eight-week period, undergraduate students in the Arts and Humanities were randomly assigned to either an intervention or a . Previously validated, self-report instruments to measure adaptability, resourcefulness and communication skills were administered to both groups.

The intervention group played specified video games under controlled conditions over an eight-week period and they showed improvements in communication, adaptability, and resourcefulness scales compared to the control group. This supported the hypothesis that playing video games can improve self-reported graduate skills.

Commenting on his research Mr Barr said: "The findings suggest that such game-based learning interventions have a role to play in higher education. Graduate attributes are those generic skills such as problem solving, communication, resourcefulness or adaptability which are considered desirable in graduates, particularly where employability is concerned.

"Modern video games often require players to be adaptable and resourceful, and finding multiple ways of accomplishing a task. The way games are designed often encourages critical thinking and reflective learning, commonly cited as desirable attributes in graduates. "

This research was intended to measure the effects of playing commercial video games on the attainment of certain graduate attributes, testing the hypothesis that playing selected games can improve student scores on measures of graduate skills.

"My research is perhaps what every parent may or, in the case of some, may not like to hear," added Matt Barr. "This work demonstrates that playing commercial video games can have a positive effect on ability, adaptability and resourcefulness in adult learners, suggesting that video games may have a role to play in .

"The study also suggests that skills may be improved in a relatively short amount of time, with the gains reported here achieved over a period of eight weeks and representing just 14 h of game play. Certainly, the results of the randomised controlled trial described here suggest that the popular discourse around games' alleged ill effects should be tempered by considerations of the potential positive outcomes of playing video games. "

The games used in the study were all commercial titles, designed for entertainment purposes rather than with the intention of developing particular skills in players. They included Borderlands 2; Minecraft; Portal 2; Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light; Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos; Team Fortress 2; Gone Home and Papers, Please.

The labs operated on a drop-in basis, open for students to come and play the specified games between the hours of 9am-5pm every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Participants were asked to log 120 min of play on most games. Time management was the students' responsibility.

Explore further: Study finds violent video games provide quick stress relief, but at a price

More information: Matthew Barr. Video games can develop graduate skills in higher education students: A randomised trial, Computers & Education (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2017.05.016

Related Stories

How long should children play video games?

September 9, 2016

A new study indicates that playing video games for a limited amount of time each week may provide benefits to children, but too much can be detrimental. The findings are published in the Annals of Neurology.

Videogames boost skills, but also harmful

April 1, 2015

Good news and bad news for video gamers: new research shows game play boosts visual and cognitive skills, but that too much of the activity is linked to behavioral problems.

Recommended for you

After a reset, Сuriosity is operating normally

February 23, 2019

NASA's Curiosity rover is busy making new discoveries on Mars. The rover has been climbing Mount Sharp since 2014 and recently reached a clay region that may offer new clues about the ancient Martian environment's potential ...

Study: With Twitter, race of the messenger matters

February 23, 2019

When NFL player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice, the ensuing debate took traditional and social media by storm. University of Kansas researchers have ...

Solving the jet/cocoon riddle of a gravitational wave event

February 22, 2019

An international research team including astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has combined radio telescopes from five continents to prove the existence of a narrow stream of material, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.