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May. 19 2010 - 8:12 am | 2,632 views | 1 recommendation | 3 comments

Red Dead Redemption will improve your memory

Red Dead Redemption

Image via Wikipedia

Meet John Marston, a man aiming to blow away memories in the virtual world. According to the glowing review from The New York Times, Marston…

stands between the Old West and modernity — between the celebration of the individual and the collective requirements of organized society — as he tries to salvage a family life from the smoldering legacy of his criminal past.

via Video Game Review – ‘Red Dead Redemption’ Brings Old West to Life – NYTimes.com.

Millions will soon ride with Marston deep into the Wild West via Red Dead Redemption, the next big video game. And millions of virtual creatures, critters and humans alike, are going to die. Prepare for the band of anti-gamers who will deride it for stimulating aggression and turning the brain to mush.

Whether any of those complaints are valid is debatable. But according to several studies, Red Dead players will have the upper hand in certain kinds of memory. According to ‘Gender, Video Game Playing Habits and Visual Memory Tasks (PDF):’

Tasks such as mental rotation, speeded perception and visual memory are likely to be enhanced by different types of computer games and the cognitive abilities practiced during these tasks may transfer to other related visuospatial tasks.

That refers to all video games. The article goes on to cite the particularly beneficial effects of violent video games and hypothesizes ‘there may be something specific about the performance expectations of violent games that actually fosters visuospatial abilities.’

Whether other memory advantages come out of playing Red Dead Redemption is unclear.

Five years ago, Missouri Western University student found a quirky result about memory and video games. Brooke L. Lindenbusch studied the retention of  commentary within the games, applying a memory test to three groups: players, people who watched the games live and people who watched the games on video. Lindenbusch found:

The people who watched the video tended to get more answers right on the memory checklist, than those who played or watched someone play.

So maybe gamers won’t remember much about John Marston when Red Dead Redemption rides into the sunset. Well, hombre, that’s exactly what he wants.


3 Total Comments
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  1. collapse expand

    I’m trying to get my one friend who can afford to do so to buy a PS3 so that I can play this.

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    About Me

    About 10 years ago, this lady in her 80s told me a childhood story about the day her mom tied her to a post on the porch. It was punishment for riding her tricycle past the curb at the end of their block. In the middle of the story she said to me, 'Wait, mom didn't tie me to the porch, she tied the tricycle to the porch. I just remembered that.' I've been fascinated by memory ever since.


    To make a living during those 10 years, I wrote about religion, politics and people for The Kansas City Star and National Catholic Reporter. I also delved deep into memory by teaching over 2,000 retired Midwesterners how to write their life stories. Now I am putting those two things together -- I'm reporting on memory from science, social and personal perspectives. I am also earning my MA in Journalism at NYU.

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