Some believe video games dumb us down. Dr. Constance Steinkuehler isn't one of them. She's an assistant professor of Educational Communication & Technology, and she spoke at Future Play 2007, a conference on future trends in the gaming industry. In her presentation she suggested that MMOs actually improve our mental performance for both verbal and scientific tasks.
Fan fiction, forum arguments about which class does more l33t DPS, and complex social groups all keep our minds active, and these things could be educational tools for children. Even the oft-criticized MMO shorthand was shown in her talk to be more complex than one might first assume.
Steinkuehler also talked a bit about the roles that friendships in MMOs play in peoples' lives. She runs a gaming club for at-risk kids and hopes to use video games and teamwork to help them overcome their academic troubles. Sadly, we couldn't find a transcript of the presentation, but Gamasutra wrote up a good summary.
More evidence: MMOs are good for you
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