The Games for Health Project, a study of the effects of games on mental and physical health funded by the Serious Games Initiative, and casual games publisher PopCap Games have announced the results of their first summary findings of research into the use of electronic games to maintain mental acuity and fight senile dementia.
"We have reviewed a large base of literature and what we've found is that while still in the early stages of scientific understanding, there is growing consensus that defined cognitive exercise can play a critical role in healthy aging. As part of that role, it seems clear that puzzle games, strategy games, and games which aren't as spatially oriented can play a significant role in that effort," said Games for Health Project co-founder and director Ben Sawyer.
Some casual games, such as Mastiff's Dr. Sudoku for GBA
and Nintendo's upcoming Brain Age
and Big Brain Academy
for the Nintendo DS, have already used the principle researched as a selling point by promising that regular mental exercise using their products can ward off Alzheimer's-related effects.
The researchers were careful, however, to note that the benefits were not achieved by game-playing and puzzle-solving alone. "It's not just about working out your mind," said project co-lead researcher Darius Kazemi, "you need to get up and move, and be social as well."