How Long and How Intense Is Action Video Games?

Action video games are a growing subgenre in the video gaming world. An action video game is a video game category that focuses on physical challenges, which include eye movements, hand movements and reaction-time. The sub-genre contains a wide array of different sub-genres, including first-person shooter games, beat ’em up games, fighting games and puzzle games. Action is typically defined as involving conflict, the use of violence or the threat of violence. In most sub-genres of the action video games category, the player is required to use perception and reasoning to overcome situations and make choices that affect the outcome of the story.

An Overview

Several different types of research have attempted to determine the positive effects that action video games have on brain development. These studies provide hints as to why action video games may help to promote skills like hand/eye coordination but come with no clear conclusions as to whether these games are beneficial or not. It’s important to note that all of these studies have been performed by outside researchers.

One of the types of studies looking into action video games and their effect on children was conducted at the Center for Information Technology and Learning at the University of Southern California. This study used a unique method of testing the children’s reactions to action movies. Fifteen kids were randomly selected and each was given a copy of a traditional action video game, along with instructions on how to play it. The kids then spent two weeks playing the game, tracking their progress toward various goals throughout the program.

Study Results 

The results of this study showed that not only did the gamers enjoy the action video games, but also that they showed greater improvement in various areas of spatial intelligence than did non-gamers. The better spatial learners showed a significant improvement in their performance during the two-week test period. Overall, the study concluded that action video games can be beneficial to gamers but more specifically to action game enthusiasts who are already avid spatial learners. Perhaps this can explain why Call of Duty and other highly popular games are so popular with young adults and teenagers.

Another group of scientists has recently conducted a study on the effect of action video games on a new generation of youth who tend to be non-gamers, yet have shown a greater interest in gaming. In fact, many in this newer generation do not even know what a game console is, much less what it is used for. This new research found that both action video games and their manufacturers are influencing these new players to become more responsive to pop culture. This study looked specifically at the effects of Grand Theft Auto, which has received a lot of criticism from media and some analysts due to its violence. It is important to note that the researchers did not necessarily suggest that playing such a game would lead to increased violence in society.

Benefits of Video Games 

The latest in brain research, this time from the UK, finds that action video games can help to improve cognitive abilities in a different way than was previously thought. Previous studies have found that action games can help to improve reaction times, but not cognitive skills. This new study, however, indicates that there may be an additional benefit to playing such games: the ability to increase the amount of grey matter in the action games can help to improve cognitive function. The increased grey matter may be responsible for the improved skill.

This finding is particularly noteworthy because it supports previous research on the impact of action-gamers on the human brain. In a study published in Nature, researchers found that action-gamers had more neurons in the part of the brain called the amygdala, which is involved in anxiety and other stress-related behaviors. This finding is important because the amygdala plays an important role in the fast-paced, “ensemble” style of game play often associated with action-gamers. In fact, researchers believe that the amygdala may even be more important than the hippocampus in some ways.


If this study is correct, it means that action video games could make for even more interesting entertainment. Not only could more people benefit from playing them, but it also suggests that the speed, action, and non-stop nature of many action video games could make them even more appealing to individuals who want to devote their leisure time to a high-intensity activity. The study only covered a relatively small group of people, but the scientists are optimistic about their findings. “This is really exciting work,” said Dr. Michael Yapko, a professor at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved in the study.

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