3 Proven Ways Games Help


When we talk about using games to create change, it can be easy to assume it’s simply a matter of common sense. When there’s an activity we find entertaining we want to do more of it, so creating the equation of games + annoying thing = better thing can seem obvious. However, when such claims become generalized, hyperbolized, and popularized, it’s critical to take a step back and examine what can actually be proven.

Any technology claiming to simply make people “smarter” or “better” (...faster, stronger, etc.) should be met with a hearty helping of fully justified skepticism. As with any system that infers it can “save the world,” “solve every problem,” or even just “fix something that needs fixing”, the claims should feel too good to be true, or at the very least, far too simplistic.

When we talk about games in this context, it’s critical to remember the intrinsic value of play. Play is something that holds critical meaning to all of us from our earliest age, and is so vital to our development that it is protected as a human right by the UN Convention. The cognitive, emotional, and social benefits of play are foundational. In an upcoming article GameTheory will be diving deeper into just what we mean by play and how it benefits us, but for the next few Discovery articles, we’ll be looking at what benefits games, and even more specifically video games, can provide.  

The truth is a panacea pitch such as “games solve problems” always deserves a proper prodding and probing. So, let’s take a look: just what is it that games do well? How have they been proven to benefit people? And what methods make those proven benefits possible?


How Games Help:

Cognitive Tasks

What are the cognitive benefits that video games have been scientifically proven to have a positive effect on?


How Games Help:

Mental Health

Exploring the tested mental health benefits of video game approaches. What’s proven to work and what needs further research?


How Games Help:


How do games motivate learning? What benefits have been tested? And how do you design the best game for learning outcomes?

Marguerite Dibble