Robert Rosenkranz introduces the Intelligence Squared U.S. Debate Video Games Will Make Us Smarter
Video games have long received blame in the media for promoting violence and desensitizing players to it, but in recent years, many video game creators have begun developing games that focus on critical social issues facing mankind, such as climate change, poverty and so on. The video game industry continues to experience considerable growth, but is this growth benefiting players and making them more in-tune with the modern social plights of humankind, or is this growth contributing to antisocial behavior among players while making them increasingly numb to extreme violence?
Yes, video games are making us smarter.
Arguing in favor of the motion that video games make us smarter are Daphne Bavelier, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Geneva and a co-founding advisor of Akili Interactive, and Asi Burak, chairman of Games for Change and the Chief Executive Officer of Power Play.
Arguments Made in Favor of the Motion
Proponents in favor of the motion that video games are making us smarter argued that claims about the connection between video game-playing and violent behavior are largely overstated, noting that no causal link between video games and aggression has ever been determined. On the contrary, they noted, video games have been used to help sufferers of depression and mood disorders.
Furthermore, they argued, video games have positive effects on cognitive development by, for example, helping players learn to focus and problem-solve, honing skills they can then apply in real-world settings. Now that video game creators are increasingly gearing toward innovative, forward-thinking games that address real, global issues, supporters noted, their presence within the marketplace should be more welcome than ever.
No, video games are not making us smarter.
Arguing against the motion that video games are making us smarter are Elias Aboujaoude, the director of Stanford University’s OCD and Impulse Control Disorders Clinic and the author of “Virtually You,” and Walter R. Boot, the director of Florida State University’s Attention and Training Lab.
Arguments Made Against the Motion
Those opposed to the motion that video games are making us smarter refuted proponents’ claims that game play leads to cognitive gains that translate well into real-life scenarios. Rather than making us smarter, they argued, any small gains playing video games may stimulate are countered by how they can hinder other aspects of brain function and encourage compulsive behaviors
Opponents also noted that any skills developed or enhanced by game play are also offset by the fact that it can make players see the world in unrealistic, win-lose terms, which can negatively affect them socially. So, too, opponents argued, can the compulsive nature of video games, which can lead some players to develop isolated lifestyles and avoid addressing life’s true responsibilities.
Pre-Debate Poll Results
Prior to the debate, 40 percent of audience members were in favor of the motion that video games are making us smarter, while 23 percent were against it and 37 percent were undecided.
Post-Debate Poll Results
After the debate, 53 percent of audience members were in favor of the motion that video games are making us smarter, while 32 percent were against it and 15 percent were undecided.