Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dopamine and Video Games

A letter to my cousin, after her implication videos are bad because they raise dopamine levels:

[to my cousin] So since you mentioned the whole dopamine thing and video games I've been meaning to sit down and research the subject. Finally had a chance to. Turns out there's a LOT more behind the scenes.

One article, Dopey about Dopamine, states video games don't raise dopamine levels any more than eating food or sex, as well as sites studies showing data regarding same. The same article argues people need to distinguish between a substance and behavior.

"we have to stop treating behaviors as if they were controlled substances. Playing video games, watching television, eating, and having sex are behaviors that can all be problematic in certain times and certain contexts. But they are not the same as ingesting drugs, they don’t cause the same level of chemical change in the brain."
Another article, This is Your Brain on Video Games, talks about video games creates new learning comparable to learning in graduate school. He cites several organizations that support gaming to improve mental cognition. He also cited several studies including one where gamers outperform nongamers, including gamers who started a week prior for the sole purpose of addressing the weakness that gamers may be more visual learners in the first place. In addition, he cited a study where surgeons who played games more than three hours a week had 37% less errors than nongaming peers.

More than several TedTalks address video games and their benefits to the real world, such as in Jane McGonigal's TedTalk on how a video game recovered her from a head injury, and Tom Chatfield's TedTalk on how gaming can increase learning, along with many others.

Do you see my dilemna?!?!

Really, if this was based on facts, there would be no dilemma. Live a balanced life, and video games are a major benefit. Don't live a balanced life, and they aren't.

The thing is, I *personally* don't like video games. I'm also a lot dumber visually than the boys and Brando. And by a lot, I mean a LOT. Also, if I don't like something, I kind of don't want them to spend time on something I don't like. But, then, who am I to keep them from challenging themselves mentally just because I'd rather spend time challenging myself in other ways?

[to my cousin] Was thinking on this and finally had time to research. Thought I'd share my research and dilemmas with you since you mentioned the one thing that got me researching :) .



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