Gaming makes you smarter, says Dutch univ. researchers

Playing games - any type of game ranging from puzzles to video games - makes you more intelligent, according to a study by University of Amsterdam researchers Jessica Piotrowski and Patti Valkenburg, and Karin Fikkers from the University of Utrecht. "We have to adjust our negative image of games", Piotrowski said to Fiola.

The researchers followed 934 children between the ages of 3 and 7 for four years. They found that playing games increased the children's fluid intelligence - the ability to solve new problems by recognizing patterns, making connection and logical reasoning. Fluid intelligence is the counterpart of crystallized intelligence, which revolves around factual knowledge and general development. 

Fluid intelligence is of great importance to 21st century skills, Piotrowski explained. "Flexibility, problem-solving thinking, communicating: these are all things that have to do with fluid intelligence." Piotrowski is not surprised by their findings. Playing video games forces you to think ahead, she said to Fiola. "What's around the corner? What happens if I take this action now?"

Piotrowski thinks that games can play an important part in education. "Games are very personal: it is often about your own experience through, for example, a character or a vehicle. It gives you the opportunity to endlessly practice certain things that you are not good at yet. Perhaps things that a teacher can easily get because he finds them less complicated, but that are difficult for the pupil."

The study looked at all types of gaming, making no distinction between puzzles and video games, for example. "That matter is interesting for further research: do certain games have more effect on intelligence, and what are they?" Piotrowski said. 

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