Gaming and Cognitive Functioning



For my first blog post I decided to look for something that is of interest to the general public, but also has some sort of interesting connection to cognitive psychology. One of the first things that came to mind was video games. They are literally everywhere. If we are not playing one at home, most of us tend to have a game or two on our phones. I was interested in seeing if any articles had been written, or any studies had been done to connect these two different subjects. So, I started searching the internet and to my surprise I found a few articles on the topic that seem to be legit.

This article started off discussing how enhancing cognitive function of our brain, through gaming, we can be more effective learners. They aren’t just talking about any ordinary video game. They call the technique gamification. Gamification uses the element of games to motivate and engage the user. The theory itself is that you can use game techniques to have people learn and solve problems in a non-gaming setting. This concept first came out in 2002, but only started receiving recognition in 2010. Although it is becoming more and more popular, it is still being criticized for only being able to work half of the brain. It is said that these game will have some benefit, but it is impossible to optimize brain connectivity, and grow new neurons playing a game on a two-dimensional screen.


There is a belief that there are types of gamification, structural and content. This belief comes from award winning training professional, Karl Kapp. Structural gamification is the application of game-like elements but with no alteration to content. An example of this would be an employee doing training for the company they work for. As they complete the training they are rewarded by points. The game-like scoring system will help distract the person from negative thought they may have about completing that task, by engaging them and enhancing cognitive functions. The second type of gamification is Content gamification. This type of gamification applies game-like elements to the content. An example of this would be when instructors add practical challenges and tasks to programs to maybe help with team-building sessions.

Even with the criticism gamification is becoming popular in the workplace.  In the workplace environment these games can increase optimism, enhance social skills through multi-player scenarios, and create meaning by making it possible for participants to achieve success. It also works as a distracter for some employees. If you are earning points for completing a work activity more like a game, you will be more willing to finish the task, and do it with a good attitude. With these positive outcomes it is clear why some many companies are experimenting with this new concept. Even the Ford Motor Company of Canada used gamification for their employees and saw benefits. It is still a growing concept, but it is thought to be something used a lot more frequently in the near future.



1 thought on “Gaming and Cognitive Performance

  1. Alyssa

    Gamification is a word I have never come across thus far in my life, but once reading your blog post, it certainly has a valid argument. As a game lover myself, I can personally testify that video games allow users to immerse themselves into a different world and therefore necessitating making decisions and adapting to the new environment. While I do agree that in reality video games can help with non-gaming settings, I am also contended to agree with a some of the criticisms made by other scientists that there is a limit to what we can really learn from gamification.

    Though there are some lingering doubts in my mind, I firmly believe that video games can aid employees in training. When I was stuck at my job, I had to memorize a good portion of my employee manual and then after a certain period of time I had to take an examination on the material. I do think that if instead of handing me a thick and intimidating manual to learn the difficult material, that they gave me a computer game to help me learn in which I earned points, I would not only have learned faster, but better as well. This issue was very thought provoking and I congratulate you on finding and discussing this topic.

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