A body of research suggests that playing video games provides benefits similar to bilingualism in exercising the mind. Just as people fluent in two languages learn to suppress one language while speaking the other, so too are gamers adept at shutting out distractions to swiftly switch attention between different tasks.
A new study of 100 university undergraduates in Toronto has found that video gamers consistently outperform their non-playing peers in a series of tricky mental tests. If they also happened to be bilingual, they were unbeatable.
“The people who were video game players were better and faster performers,” said psychologist Ellen Bialystok, a research professor at York University. “Those who were bilingual and video game addicts scored best — particularly at the most difficult tasks.”
I really wish the article didn’t play up bilingualism so much. My mom went through great pains — literally — to get me to be fluent in another language. First she tried Spanish, then she tried Latin, and then she gave up after French. But think how much super I’d be if I had actually stuck with a language! I would be “unbeatable”! Too bad I died at the first miniboss in French level 3. I have given some thought to going back to Latin. I think it’d be sexy to be fluent in Latin.
However, I do feel better about all those hours I’ve “squandered” on video games, though I’d still say my play time in World of Warcraft is embarrassingly high. . .