World of Warcraft isn’t just a game designed for teenagers and geeks. According to a study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, older adults who play it may be able to reap benefits in terms of spatial skills and concentration.

Participants, aged 66 to 70 served as the testing ground for the theory. First, researchers from the North Carolina State’s Gains through Gaming laboratory tested the participants for their cognitive skills; this included tests on how well they could concentrate and remember things. Afterward, they were sent home to spend 14 hours playing WoW over a period of two weeks. A control group was also created to help verify results.

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Those who tested well in the first place didn’t seem to show any significant improvements in cognitive functioning. However, those who did poorly the first time around certainly had cause for celebration as they showed real improvement in spatial skills and in their ability to focus. Meanwhile, the control group showed no significant difference in their cognitive skills.

According to Dr. Anne McLaughlin, an assistant professor of psychology at NC State and co-author of a paper on the study, they chose WoW “because it has attributes we felt may produce benefits--it is a cognitively challenging game in a socially interactive environment that presents users with novel situations.”

Now whether the same improvement could be replicated in other games and in more adults still remains to be seen.

Looking to get into gaming yourself? Check out our "Girl's Guide to Gaming." For more on brain function and memory, check out these stories:

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(Photo by Jeremy Keith via Flickr Creative Commons)

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