A University of Illinois study has found that playing strategy games can actually improve the mental skills of people in their 60s and 70s.
Researchers conducted the tests using Big Huge Games' real-time strategy title Rise of Nations, which awards points for building cities, taking care of citizens, controlling a military force and expanding territory. The study found that time spent on the game improved participants' scores in several areas, with the test subjects becoming "significantly better and faster" than a comparison group at switching between tasks. Reasoning ability also showed improvement, as did both short-term memory and the ability to identify rotated objects.
However, the game training had no effect on the group's ability to recall an ordered list of words, numeration ability or ability to "inhibit certain responses," researchers said.
The findings are the first to show "pronounced effects on cognitive skills not directly related to skills learn in the videogame," said professor Arthur Kramer, one of the study's authors. The research will appear in the American Psychological Association journal Psychology and Aging.
Good information and yet another mark in favor of videogames, but is it practical it is for real-world applications? My mom got hooked on Stoneloops pretty quickly, but I'm not sure how receptive she'd be to the idea of conquering the world in real-time via her mouse.