Games and gaming have long been the center of debate and controversy ever since consoles and computers started becoming a regular part of our lives. The central debate being "are they good for us? And are they useful?" Recent evidence suggests that games are powerful tools that do more good than harm.
Often we hear about the violence in video games influencing similar behavior. The source of this assumption is the frequently misquoted Bandura Bobo doll study. The study made the hypothesis that behavior witnessed is behavior copied. It did, in fact, seem to be the case in the very narrow parameters of the study. The trouble is that this research has been the basis for the entire argument that gaming as a source of media is inherently bad compared to books, movies, music.
As the years have gone by more and more research has been released tipping the scales to the positive. On top of there being plenty of holes in the Bandura study. There have been several more including: A study about the benefits of how gameplay improves coordination, how gaming can help the elderly stave off neurodegenerative diseases, and most recently a study on how the pokemon games have created a distinct section of the brain for remembering pokemon. .
That last study is especially significant because it goes a step beyond the others. Instead of focusing on how games benefit us, the study exemplifies how a game series was used to understand the human mind just a little more.
They used pokemon because this franchise is a worldwide phenomenon that has never really lost steam. When it first came out in the late 90’s, educators were floored at how a simple game could help children memorize so many images and highly detailed batches of information in such a short amount of time. Pokemon generated a lot of ideas on how to model the unique traits of the franchise in order to help kids learn.
Now research has found a small region of the brain has developed solely for the recognition of Pokemon characters. Not only does this shed some light on how memories and associations form, but also how to help purposefully commit data to memory.
It was assumed visuals helped with memory, but the region of the brain cited above really seals the deal. The visuals of the Pokemon function as a neurological tab system for files of data. If I show you a picture of a Bulbasaur, for example, and you played the games at all, you will have a whole series of data that comes up. (dex number 1, seed pokemon, grass type, strong against water, weak to fire, and so on).
If you have played the games, can you imagine remembering the typing and powers of your favorite pokemons without the visuals? Howewver, with the visuals you can remember a entire Pokedex of data! Can you imagine how much an adult would remember of their education if it was taught in a similar manner? This is exciting news for game developers. What tools can we create to help people? What more can we discover?
The researcher for the study would like to kindly remind everyone that that section of the brain contains hundreds of millions of neurons. So no brain cells are wasted trying to remember which team you should bring to Saffron City gym.
_K.D. Morey is a writer, artist, artisan and massive nerd. An author of 3 different published sci-fi works and multiple other creations too numerous to list.P