World of Warcraft: WoW Playtime Improves Senior Citizens’ Mental Skills
World of Warcraft helps players pile up gold, dispatch exotic monsters, wage war on rival faction members, explore a beautifully rendered fantasy world, and interact with players from all over the world. But does it also help older citizens with their mental faculties and brain functions?
Apparently so, according to a North Carolina State University study. Who knew shanking other players as a rogue had therapeutic effects? While some younger players might feel that WOW is sucking up all their free time due to its addictive attractions, the clinical study on older Americans showed that there is a positive brain effect to be had from grinding and raiding in World of Warcraft. The experiment involved a pretty simple set up. The researchers assembled a pool of individuals aged 60 to 77. They tested them on key cognitive areas like attention span, spatial reasoning, and memory. They divided the group into a control group (no WoW) and an experimental group that played 14 hours of the game in the course of two weeks.
After two weeks, the senior citizens were tested again and the research team found that those who initially had poor scores on attention span and spatial ability scored significantly higher after playing WoW. However, the individuals that already scored high in those areas didn’t show much difference after playing WoW.
One of the study’s authors, Dr. Anne McLaughlin, explained why the team chose WoW: “[The game] has attributes we felt may produce benefits – it is a cognitively challenging game in a socially interactive environment that presents users with novel situations,”. On the memory front, however, there wasn’t much improvement among the group of seniors playing the game.