With games like Brain Age or Big Brain Academy already on the market, there's no shortage of games that aim to help players refine their mental abilities. It turns out, however, that games like World of Warcraft can serve a similar purpose.
A new study from North Carolina State University has found that the Blizzard-developed MMO can help elderly players increase their spatial awareness, improve their memory, and better focus their attention.
The study examined and tested the cognitive abilities of a group of participants aged 60 to 77, and divided them into two groups. One group served as the unaltered control, while the other group played World of Warcraft for roughly 14 hours over the course of two weeks.
After re-testing the participants, the researchers discovered that the group playing World of Warcraft showed a much greater increase in cognitive functioning. In particular, those that scored relatively low on their baseline test showed marked improvement after they spent time playing the game.
“The people who needed it most -- those who performed the worst on the initial testing -- saw the most improvement,” said associate professor Dr. Jason Allaire.
This isn't the first time researchers have turned to a Blizzard product for cognitive study. In late 2011, a group of researchers at Simon Fraser University examined StarCraft II replay data to learn more about how the brain handles complex, simultaneous tasks.