Gamers will detect the problem in this study.

From New Scientist:

Video games don’t train your brain

Does playing computer games boost your brainpower? Not necessarily, seems to be the answer.

Walter Boot and colleagues at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, found that non-gamers showed no improvement in memory skills or the ability to multitask after spending more than 20 hours on one of three video games. This appears to contradict previous studies which detected superior mental aptitudes among habitual gamers.

Any gamers care to discuss?

I’m not saying that video games do improve aptitude, but this seems like saying “Weight lifting does not increase muscle mass. Researchers showed no major increase in muscle mass among non-athletes who lifted weights for one week. This contradicts previous results which detected muscle increase in regular weight lifters.”

"Science Spore?"

I came across this interesting forum on Spore. I hope SpongB6F1 won’t mind if I quote this posting at length, as I think it is very insightful.

“Science Spore” would be ideal.

I think many people will claim that although some kind of abstract commitment to science would have been nice in Spore, what they really want is just some decent, engaging and clever gameplay, instead of a rigid pattern of repetitive, simplistic grinding tasks.

But I think these are two very interrelated issues. The gameplay elements that attracted many of us to the game were precisely the “sciencey” parts. Because by science we’re not talking about the propounding of abstract theorems or doing calculus problems here–the science parts most of us want are basically just the interesting game mechanics everyone is talking about (e.g. functional consequence to parts placement in Creature, or a more realistic Creature ecosystem and behavior system, or any number of sci-fi features we wanted in Space, etc.).

These are science-related not because of any didactic teaching of facts, but in their basic nature and the mental approach you’d have to take to them. Such as trial and error, experimentation, exploration of the world, problem solving, inducing general principles of how the world works, etc. E.g. figuring out what kinds of creature design would be effective. Figuring out what kinds of creature behaviors and strategies are appropriate for which niche, etc.

So in asking for a “Science Spore,” most of us are really asking for a game that actually engages our minds on some level. That’s why we play games in the first place.

I am, of course, pleased to see that many others are interested in a game like Spore that incorporates some actual evolution, and that there is even hope that this will arrive in the form of an expansion or sequel someday. But would there be a market?

My favourite games.

One of the reasons I was interested in giving some comments on the science in Spore is that I am a big fan of video games but rarely have a chance to play anymore. The discussion about Spore (which I wasn’t asked to evaluate as a game per se) got me thinking back on the games I have really enjoyed playing. So, just for fun, I have come up with this list of some of my favourite games. Now, these go back to my elementary school days in the 1980s, so bear with me. It’s a mix of console and computer games and is a little behind the times as I don’t have much time for games anymore. Here they are largely in chronological order.

1. Gorf, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Baseball, and Tron: Deadly Discs

Included for nostalgic reasons, these are some of my favourite games from the first consoles we owned when I was very young. Gorf on the Commodore VIC-20, and then Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and Baseball (Yer out!) on Intellivision. My father and I played baseball until our hands hurt (not hard on the awkward controllers). I once (and only once) got 1,000,000 points on Tron: Deadly Discs and got to see the Guardians. (Just outside this list: Astrosmash).

2. Super Mario Bros. (I and III), Metroid, and Legend of Zelda

My cousins are part Japanese and had Nintendo at home two years before it came out in North America — when it finally arrived, I had to get one specifically to play Super Mario Bros. Later, I went to see the crappy movie The Wizard just for the advance footage of Super Mario 3 (worth it) and I spent $80 of my tips from working as a busboy to get it as soon as it was released (worth it). And no, I don’t need warp zones to finish either of them. Absent from this list: Super Mario 2. Metroid and Zelda also consumed many hours of my youth.


I pretty much got a Game Boy just for this game, having become hooked on it in the arcade. Easily one of the greatest games made.

4. Wing Commander (I, III, and Prophecy)

I don’t usually like flight sims, but space ones I do. We played this game a lot in high school. So much, in fact, that we once left Wing Commander running on a computer in one of the classrooms, but managed to convince the teacher that it was a screen saver. It only got better with WCIII. Mark Hamill as Blair? Awesome.

5. Mortal Kombat

My buddy and I could finish this on one quarter when we were undergrads (yep, games used to cost 25c). Of course, we spent a lot more getting to that point. FINISH HIM! (Over, down, over, high punch).

6. Doom (I and II)

Not so scary now, but back then playing with the lights out and the sound up was a challenge.

7. StarCraft

This game is still popular and there is even a professional league dedicated to it.

8. Perfect Dark

This game was great for playing with my brother on his Nintendo 64. For starters, you could be on the same team and fight simulated agents. Is anything cooler than a laptop gun?

9. Warcraft III

This realtime strategy had amazing cut scenes and extraordinary gameplay along with an exceptional story line.

10. Halo

One of the best selling games ever, and for good reason.

Ok, your lists?