Game Brains

"Half Of 26-Year-Old's Memories Nintendo-Related," shouts the headline of a great story on the satirical Web site, the Onion, today. My mind, admittedly made up in part of recipes for paella and 12-minute remixes of electronica classics, jumped straight to two other items I've seen this week--a post today on Smart Mobs about how different the technology experiences of thirty-something parents are from their children, and my own post, Nintendo Fluency, about how naturally Millennial take to the kind of social communication experiences we adults still experience as "seamful".

The Onion article elaborates on the fictional findings of researchers imaging a twenty-something's brain thusly:

"The memory-evaluation study, headed by Dr. Franklin McCarroll of New York University's School of Psychology, revealed that approximately 47 percent of Jenkins' hippocampus is dedicated to storing notable video-game victories and frustrating last-minute defeats, while 32 percent of his amygdala contains embedded neurological scripts pertaining to game strategies, character back stories, theme songs, and cheat codes."

While trying to be funny, the author doesn't know how true this statement probably is. While some have gone so far as to say that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may be in part a manifestation of children's brains adapting to high levels of stimulus brought on by our environmental explosion of technology and media, its not a long shot to say that kids' cognitive abilities and possibly even neural pathways are being heavily imprinted by the experiences easy access to technology--games, communication, other media, new interfaces and more that we heap on them every day through progress and development. The US military has taken note of young soldiers' comfort with video games as a cue to provide them training via similar environments. Serious games, video games designed with a training or educational goal in mind, are also centered around the idea that younger people may be more apt to learn and spread ideas through video game-based training.

Longer term, there are sure to be major implications for problem-solving, decision making, corporate strategy, and governmental policy in an age where professional adult engineers, CEOs, politicians and generals can look back not just to Sun Tzu,  Clausewitz or Drucker, but Pokemon and Katamari as well. I, for one, am curious to see the outcomes.