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Is Portal 2 putting your brain to the test?

According to a recent study produced by Florida State University’s psychology department, Valve’s popular puzzle-platform game Portal 2 is actually better for training your brain than brain training game Lumosity.
The three behind the study: Valerie J. Shute, Matthew Ventura and Fengfeng Ke, initially decided to test Portal 2 against Lumosity after discovering that one of the team members really enjoyed the game, and thought it helped improve her cognition skills.
Games like Lumosity or Brain Age are often sold as brain-training software, trying to cash in on what neuroscientists have discovered in recent years – that human brains have plasticity (think of it like a muscle), meaning our brains are very much able to grow and change like say your biceps or your pecks. Brain-training software has the user solve a series of puzzles designed to ‘stretch’ their thinking skills, similarly, in Portal 2 – gamers have to solve puzzles to get to other portals, achieving an outcome better than those who use Lumosity in terms of cognitive ability.
To pit the two games against one another, the team gathered up 77 volunteers and had them complete tests that measured problem solving, mental-persistence and spatial skill. To determine if playing had affected these skills, they were split into two groups, one group playing one game, the other the other game—both asked to play for eight hours. The researchers found Portal 2 players with a fairly significant “statistical advantage” over those who’d played Lumosity—they note that the reverse was never true with any of the volunteers.
Researcher Valerie J. Shute hilariously sums up the study’s results in a Popular Science report: “Portal 2 kicks Lumosity’s ass.”
While this is certainly the case here, the bigger picture is the positive impact video games have on players, specifically on their cognitive and non-cognitive skills. It might have not have an enormous amount of validity because of the small range of volunteers but what it does help do is remove the modern day, widely idea that every video game promotes violent or aggressive behavior.
Should Portal 2 be given credit for enhancing players brains?
Check the study out here


Posted in Gaming, Highlights, Reviews0 Comments

The Bioshock Ball

The critically acclaimed Steampunk first-person shooter series is to become a trilogy later this month with the release of Bioshock: Infinite. To celebrate, Game on the Headrow in Leeds is organizing a launch event to celebrate all things Bioshock. This special event will take place in Fab Cafe Leeds on the 25th.

The highly anticipated game, which is not part of the narrative of the previous installments takes place in an alternate 1912 during the growth of American Exceptionalism, the game’s protagonist, former agent Booker DeWitt, is sent to the floating air-city of Columbia to find a young woman, Elizabeth, who has been held captive there for the last twelve years. Though Booker rescues Elizabeth, the two are pursued by the city’s warring factions; the nativist and elite Founders that strive to keep the city for pure Americans, and the Vox Populi, a rebel grouping representing the common people. Booker finds Elizabeth to be central to this conflict, and that she also holds strange powers to manipulate rifts in the time-space continuum that ravage Columbia.

The event, which is free entry, will feature a Cosplay competition, a quiz, themed cocktails and an opportunity to play the game. The ball is open to anyone who is over the age of eighteen and willing to join in the fun and games (although you are not required to break out the Big Daddy suit if you really don’t want to). I know, from going to the previous launch organised by Game for the Studio Ghibli production of Ni No Kuni, it will be and excellent and entertaining night. I am very excited to play this Game and I also hope I have persuaded you to join me for a journey on the airship Columbia.

By Emma Smith

Posted in Arts & Entertainment, Gaming, Highlights, News, Technology0 Comments


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