Video games have been around for years and are certainly a part of some people’s daily lives. They stimulate the mind and give us insight into things from different perspectives. One game in particular has received some attention lately.
The title is called “Crystals of Kaydor” this game story focuses on a robot crash landing upon an alien planet. The goal is to build faction with these aliens, by deciphering the emotions on their human-like faces. The expressions on these alien faces, are easy to understand, as they replicate how human beings interact with one another.
When someone plays this game made by the Learning Games Network, they are on a mission to gather pieces of a damaged spaceship. The game project was developed with middle schoolers in mind by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Research into this was aimed at studying how video games can boost children’s empathy for others. This is certainly something the world desperately needs more of nowadays.
With these studies, the mental shaping and reasoning of how the brain functions is being studied closely. How a child’s neural connections change while playing is being further examined.
After the first series of studies, the results were later published in npj Science of Learning. This nature journal revealed for the first time within several weeks children who played a game such as this, began to show greater connectivity in the brain network itself. These areas of the brain relate to empathy and perspective taking. Some subjects studied began to display crucial skills in these areas of the brain.
“If we can’t empathize with another’s difficulty or problem, the motivation for helping will not arise,” said Richard Davidson, who headed up the research team. “Our long-term aspiration for this work is that video games may be harnessed for good and if the gaming industry and consumers took this message to heart, they could potentially create video games that change the brain in ways that support virtuous qualities rather than destructive qualities.”
Quite typically, children between the ages of 8 and 18 play games daily for at least 70 minutes on average. During this developmental period, there is immense brain explosion that coincides with depression, anxiety and bullying.
The team wanted to learn more how these behavior reactions happen and how they are triggered from games in general. It seems that video games are being used as a vehicle for emotional and personal development with today’s youth. Of course there are game companies that are exploiting this for profit.
When 150 selected children played these games, they were split into 2 groups. One group played “Crystals of Kaydor” and the other group played “Bastion”. The group who played “Crystals of Kaydor” witnessed a myriad of emotions that included anger, fear, happiness, surprise, disgust and sadness. The group who played “Bastion” partook in a story line where they needed to to build a machine to save their village. These tasks were not designed in a way to teach empathy whatsoever. This game is more focused upon graphic design and playing from a third-person perspective.
“Crystals of Kaydor” players demonstrated stronger neural connectivity in their brain related to emotion regulation. Their scores increased on empathy tests as well. Not all of these children improved, there were some that simply didn’t.
“The fact that not all children showed changes in the brain and corresponding improvements in empathic accuracy underscores the well-known adage that one size does not fit all,” said Richard Davidson. “One of the key challenges for future research is to determine which children benefit most from this type of training and why.”
Perhaps another test session will be initiated and the results will likely vary next time around. Maybe these studies will help future generations down the road. As technology continues to grow and change the world, people’s interactions with one another will be very different than what we know now. A new world awaits us all.
(Source: Science Daily)