That's a good question! If you ask me to answer just like that, on the spot, I would say no. And judging by my wife's reaction when I mentioned to her this topic: she looked at me with a smirk on her face... She was like: "I ask you to go to the grocery store to buy milk and you come back with a loaf of bread and a bag of chips!"
So, for me, NO, I would not go as far as saying that video games improved my memory.
You'll say, "Yes, but, Steeve, you may just have a selective memory!" Hahahaha! Maybe I do... Unless my head is simply filled with memory foam? Then that would explain a lot!
But are there any specific games that can improve memory? Maybe yes, in a way...
Video Games That Could Improve Your Memory
I'm thinking about this nice little game on Nintendo DS called Brain Age (or Dr. Kawashima Brain Training) whose series has seen many releases over the years on different Nintendo platforms. A game that requires logic and reflection, that stimulates the intellect. This kind of game is very targeted towards mental stimulation.
Brain Age on Nintendo DS
So, maybe this game can prove to be a great memory training asset, but obviously, I haven't played enough!
Are there more "mainstream" games that can help improve memory? Hmm... possibly. In fact, I believe that some titles can improve memory, but mainly in relation to the game being played. I don't think video games can improve memory in general. I mean, outside of what’s useful for video games.
But... can it have a negative impact on memory, just like stress can have an impact on sleep? I don't think so either.
I think of my many hours playing The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim or The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild where I came to know by heart certain recipes to concoct in my magic pot.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild on Nintendo Switch
So as we progress through a big role-playing game with its magical concoctions and all, we come to memorize the recipes (which doesn't help in everyday life, except at a "geek general knowledge" party to impress your friends).
Let's Take Our Thinking a Little Further
Can a Sudoku video game prove to be a great way to exercise your brain and improve your memory? I don't think so either.
The video game can help keep the brain active, refine the perfect synchronization of the hands with the brain, its cognitive functions, work on reflexes, etc., but I don't think the video game is really going to have a positive effect on memory.
Although... Let's Look at What Science Says:
According to some researchers in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience:
“[...] early video gaming experience and gender [are] potentially linked to cognitive performance results, with video gaming experience more directly related to changes in executive functions.”
And then they go on saying that “video gaming may modulate cognitive functions in the long term.”
Well, finally, all this is encouraging for me. I may forget my 12-grain bread at the grocery store again, but I will remember how to do my job well for a long time to come!
Thinking Out Loud
To be perfectly honest, I have no proof that playing video games helps me personally in my daily life.
As mentioned at the beginning of this column, I don't think I have a better memory than anyone else because of my "video gaming hobby", BUT, I remain convinced that video games can help exercise the brain, as scientists claim. Let's think of intellectual gymnastics, brain/finger synchronization, which develops while playing TETRIS 99! Or is it simply a reflex that is built? An automatism?
I am thinking of this game called The White Eye, offering only audio, without any visual support, no images, developed for the blind. This adventure game greatly stimulates the brain, excites the senses, and works the imagination of the player (the player naturally creates images in his head to play and progress).
Tactical, turn-based strategy games are also very good for stimulating the brain. I think among others of Fairy Tail which I had the pleasure to test this year. This kind of rather complex game may not improve memory, but it certainly gets the brain working, keeping it active.
So, Do Video Games Improve Memory or Not?
So we can conclude that, yes, playing video games does have an impact on the player's cognitive functions, that it can help exercise the brain. But video games are not purely improving your overall memory.
Playing video games will rather act on your working memory, to do things at the right moment, to make the right decisions, and help synchronize your brain and your body parts.
How about you? Do you feel that video games have improved your memory?