Researchers at North Carolina State University (NCSU) found that at least for some older adults, World of Warcraft (WoW) has benefits beyond the simple entertainment of the game, but will help them to improve their cognitive functioning as well. According to the study, one hour of WoW per day over the course of two weeks resulted in notable cognitive improvement.
However, the test also showed that the improvement strongly depends on the baseline of cognitive functioning. Those players with the most room for improvement saw their scores jump much greater than those who had a well-trained cognitive ability already.
“Among participants who scored well on baseline cognitive functioning tests, there was no significant improvement after playing WoW – they were already doing great,” said Anne McLaughlin, an assistant professor of psychology at NC State and co-author of a paper on the study. “But we saw significant improvement in both spatial ability and focus for participants who scored low on the initial baseline tests.”
Pre- and post-game testing showed no change for participants on memory performance.
The researchers said that they chose WoW for their study because they believed the game had the potential of "producing benefits" as it is seen as a "cognitively challenging game in a socially interactive environment that presents users with novel situations."