By Andrew Dodson on October 20, 2014 at 8:42pm
In a study that totally probably wasn't funded by Aperature Science, Florida State University has found that playing the 2011 video game "Portal 2" is better for your critical thinking skills than other (less "Portal"-y) brain-testing software.
The study, completed by Dr. Valerie J. Shute, took place on a college campus and ended up attracting 77 students interested in participating in the study. Test subjects were not approved if they had played through "Portal 2" before or if they played video games daily. Of the 77 test subjects, aged 18-22 years old, 43 percent were male and 57 percent were female.
The study took the group of students and randomly assigned them to play "Portal 2" for eight hours or to play the brain-testing program "Lumosity" for the same amount of time. There were tests before and after the play-periods.
"Lumosity" is a subscription-based program ($14.95/month) that promises to increase the user's cognitive abilities by having them complete games, tests, and other brain-challenges. "Portal 2" is the sequel of the fan-favorite video game "Portal," where the user is given a portal-generating device and must use it to escape from a basically omniscient robot trying to kill you.
Dr. Shute found in that in every test, the set that played "Portal 2" out performed the set that used the "Lumosity" software. Here is an excerpt from the study's abstract:
Results revealed that participants who were assigned to play Portal 2 showed a statistically significant advantage over Lumosity on each of the three composite measures—problem solving, spatial skill, and persistence. Portal 2 players also showed significant increases from pretest to posttest on specific small- and large-scale spatial tests while those in the Lumosity condition did not show any pretest to posttest differences on any measure.
While eight hours is a short amount of time to jump to any significant conclusions, it is an interesting jump to the idea that video games can indeed be beneficial to a player's cognitive abilities as well as a source of entertainment. For now though, if you're interested in building your mental skills, you might be better off with a one-time payment to Valve rather than a monthly subscription to "Lumosity."
And, before you ask, the test subjects that completed the study were rewarded with a $100 gift card.
There was no cake.
The power of play: The effects of Portal 2 and Lumosity on cognitive
and noncognitive skills (Complete paper)