Tom Chatfield: 7 ways video games engage the brain

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As we bring gameplay into more aspects of our lives (from socializing to exercising), Tom Chatfield talks about one compelling aspect of videogaming: its measurability. Parceling out rewards at carefully calibrated percentages, games collect reams of data about what humans truly find rewarding, and precisely how hard we’re willing to work for a win.

TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Featured speakers have included Al Gore on climate change, Philippe Starck on design, Jill Bolte Taylor on observing her own stroke, Nicholas Negroponte on One Laptop per Child, Jane Goodall on chimpanzees, Bill Gates on malaria and mosquitoes, Pattie Maes on the “Sixth Sense” wearable tech, and “Lost” producer JJ Abrams on the allure of mystery. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, and TEDTalks cover these topics as well as science, business, development and the arts. Closed captions and translated subtitles in a variety of languages are now available on TED.com, at Watch a highlight reel of the Top 10 TEDTalks at

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48 COMMENTS

  1. Make no mistake people… Gaming is drug trafficking. They are f… With your brain. One day we will pay the price for this…
    This guy is like a drug addict trying to convince people of advantages of using drugs…

  2. Most people say video games are bad. And the few non gamers that say they are ok is only when they see that the games are good, but only want to use us through these. They never say they are good and just let us play

  3. If you are interested in research topics on video games and you should publish an article at Journal of American Academic Research
    https://www.american-journals.com/about
    Submission Email: editor-in-chief@american-journals.com

  4. I know this may trigger a few gamers, especially ones that use their computers to game but I see the exact same behaviors in cryptocurrency miners. Yes, I know that miners are driving up GPU prices and gamers hate miners because of this but putting that aside for a moment, miners are constantly recalibrating the overclocking speeds on their gpu cards and switching coins and algorithms to try and reach a high sol per watt ratio and find the right coin to mine at the right moment to maximize profits. And profits are important but it isn't so much the profit as it is the game of reaching a higher number, reach the milestone of 1k, 10k. 100k reach the milestone of 3 cards 6 cards 12 cards 24 cards 100 cards. The goals are much like a game and I believe the gambling aspect involved makes it even more like a video game. I think gamers and miners have many things in common and miners could spend a bit more time gaming and vice versa.

  5. Speaker : Pls give us at least a 50% effort in the future .
    This presentation was extremely boring and much to do about Nothing ….outdated .
    It comes across as Unprofessional & a Misfeasance of information .
    Suggestion watch other Ted Talks like Neuroscience & gaming vids …very well done .
    Learn from the criticism
    And it's not your accent
    Walking around & hand gestures do not make a good presentation .
    I think seated w a clicker done properly & at right moments enunciation w be fitting .
    Emphasis on Emotional & Brain dev . Should be key points
    W scientific data points .
    You don't have to be a neuroscientist to properly deliver nor a business degree .
    Pardon my shorthand .
    Respectfully a Ted Talks fan

  6. "With an orc on its back", please mate that is a tauren, there is a very huge and obvious difference between an orc and a tauren

  7. it would be interesting to see jobs inmplament an xp bar so like every day you work you get xp or somthin like this        so we know when we get a pay raise/promotion

    ithink that would be cool

  8. The longer I keep watching this vid….the longer I keep thinking he is explaining team fortress 2 to people.

    You keep opening crates to get the stuff you want.

  9. He didn't actually say anything -.- it was just a load of bullshit rehashed tbh. Im all for gamestudies and motivation analysis, but he basicly went: "Games Good! Look at them! They do something! I think we should look at them!" -.- srsly dissapointed.. also, hes getting his "facts" wrong sometimes …

  10. 13:26 and on: Im calling Bullshit here ^^ DKP are hardly ever used at all nowadays since most guilds and raid parties have different systems in place and the games themselves only rely on rolls for loot 99% of the time. Maybe some guild in WOW still applies the system but thats of no interest.

  11. i've watched about three videos hearing peoples mouths clicking cos they're dry and it's making me cringe ):

  12. Eagle-eyed viewers may (or may not) be interested to know that the tauren/orc error in describing the slides is because some of the slides for this final video cut were slightly modified compared to those shown during the talk…

  13. While I do credit games for a portion of my vocabulary and trivial knowledge, there are very little games that actually TEACH you what you need to learn in school after around a third grade level.

  14. love these TED videos as video games should count as actual school credits towards graduation as there is history, math, strategy, communication skills, teamwork etc.

  15. no the system still very much aplies to minecraft. its modeled differently but its still the same system. for example if you kill a mob you know it will always drop loot (exp, arrows, pork, etc) but there is a small chance for some of them of you getting something special. a enchanted item. or how about the idea of short term and long term rewards. in the short term you are gathering iron ore and coal or building a wall. in the long term you are creating a castle. or a underground base.

  16. An addiction is more often perceived as a characteristic where one is almost unable to function normally without that certain stimulus, and is dependant on it for psychological sustenance.

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