Recently, I read an article in the New York Times about the positive effect video games can have on the older brain. Project: Evo is a game designed for elderly people, ages 60-85, to help improve skills that may have declined due to aging (memory, multitasking, processing speed, etc.) by the company Akili. Akili was co-founded by PureTech, and is building clinically-validated cognitive therapeutics, assessments, and diagnostics that look and feel like high-quality video games. Since neuroscientests believe that certain skills do decline as we age, a possible fix to this problem may be video games.
However, there is minimal evidence that this game does, in fact, help improve everyday tasks; your success in the game may not measure to your improvement in life skills. To test this, Adam Gazzaley conducted an experiment with 46 elders aged 65-80 where he had them play a race car game, testing multitasking and memory skills. He split them into three groups and measured their results as to whether they played the advanced version of game avidly, the simplified version, or didn't play the game at all. He found that the group who played the advanced version of the game became extremely good at the game, and their skills improved as well. The players didn’t merely become better at NeuroRacer; they also became sharper at other things. Gazzaley admits that he needs to conduct more research and find deeper evidence that video games really do improve the brain, because brain games show different results regarding improvement of skills.
I think that video games could potentially help sharpen the skills we tend to lose, but I think that more research needs to be conducted before every video game company starts making games for elders. I agree that many of our skills do decline with age, and if a game can improve that, then I'm all for it. My grandpa does a puzzle almost every day. He's great at puzzles, but I don't think that means anything regarding his other skills. This also made me think about children and video games. Whenever I babysit for my neighbors, they always beg me to play their favorite video games on the iPad with them. One of their favorites is a game practicing your multiplication tables. To me, this is a little shocking, because I know that most teenagers don't play video games to help them in school; they play because their fun. But could this be the new COD? Will educational video games become more popular than racing or killing games? If kids can benefit from video games, can the elderly learn from them too?