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Transportation Entertainment Games

Cheaper Car Insurance For Gamers 207

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hand-eye-coordination dept.
I know your first reaction is that this story is gonna be an ad, but SpuriousLogic's story is actually about insurers considering giving a discount to elderly gamers. The question is: does gaming improve mental agility and make you a safer driver? And if so, I'll have to add gaming to mowing the lawn for my weekly chores.
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Cheaper Car Insurance For Gamers

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  • by yttrstein (891553) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:15AM (#25232537) Homepage
    ...as elderly gamers probably spend very little time in their cars.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Bob-taro (996889)

      ...as elderly gamers probably spend very little time in their cars.

      Mod parent up. I was going to try to post something funny, but I don't think I can top that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Funny, since grampy started playing GTA4 he's spent more time in [stolen] cars!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mmalove (919245)

      Well, I'm already a gamer.

      And this morning, I'm feeling kinda elderly. What the heck, sign me up!

    • by OldSoldier (168889) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @12:46PM (#25234697)

      Maybe for elderly gamers, but when I read the title I was wondering if the story would go to young gamers and I believe for them there is no correlation between gaming skill and beginning driving ability.

      Back when my 17 year old son was driving for the first time we were at a left turn stop light and it was green, but not a green turn arrow. He slowly started pulling out to make the turn. He had plenty of time to make it through the intersection before the car in the on-coming lane got to the intersection, but my son was moving uncharacteristically slowly through the intersection. I told him to go faster. I had to say this several times till the point where the on-coming car was well within my personal "danger zone". He finally started going, no incident at all and I asked him about it once we were in the clear. He said that he did not see that on coming car at all. He was paying "hyper" attention to his turn radius.

      Anyway, the up shot is that I would have thunk that a kid who can kick my butt at FPSs would have the ability to scan a "real life" scene and similarly be aware of all the action out there.

      Apparently not.

      • by steelfood (895457) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @02:23PM (#25236069)

        Different games require different mental "modes" to perform well in them. For example, both FPS's and driving games promote fast reflexes. But for FPS's, your view is forward, and hence intense concentration of "forward" gets promoted, a tunnel vision of sorts. For racing games, and especially something like Mario Kart, you need a greater awareness of the situation around you. The same concepts apply to turn-based and realtime strategy games.

        So I'll bet if someone runs out onto the road in front of your son while he's driving, he'll respond very quickly. Now, whether that's hitting the brake hard or hitting the gas hard is a separate matter...

      • by flappinbooger (574405) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @03:56PM (#25237571) Homepage
        The on-coming car was not shooting at him.
  • Yes! (Score:4, Funny)

    by camperdave (969942) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:16AM (#25232559) Journal
    All my years of FreeCell and Minesweeper will not have been in vain.
  • So this appears to be for older drivers (50+) only. I suspect we shouldn't jump to the same conclusions about younger drivers, because I'm not totally confident that Grand Theft Auto, or the Battlefield series will really make better drivers. Perhaps more aggressive ones, for better or worse. :-P

    --
    Hey code monkey... learn electronics! Powerful microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Two of my all time favorite games were Screamer (and its sequel) and Road Rash. I still play Road Rash once in a while, even though it came out over ten years ago. I can't get Screamer to play in Windows.

      The last time I had my license renewed I wouldn't even have had to go to the DMV because of my lack of tickets or accidents. I went anyway, my eye doctor had turned me into a cyborg and I wanted to get the eyewear restrictions off the license. You will be assimilated!

      I'm not sure if Road Rash made me into a

      • *ring ring* Hey Dan?
        Its Joe. I got some good news and bad news.
        The bad news is i just smoked a pedestrian with your car, cuz i had a GTA flashback.
        But the good news is a just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mcgrew (92797) *
          My friend and roommate Charlie has a brother in prison for real life GTA. She (my friend Charlie) told me her brother was in prison because he loved cars so much he stole them.
    • by arth1 (260657)

      Despite what people (and I'm using this word loosely) like Jack Thompson and Joseph Lieberman want you to think, there are no studies showing a causation between what type of game you're playing and a change in your behavior.

      One of my favourite pastimes is racing games. And I haven't gotten a speeding ticket in ten years. I may be slightly more likely to follow the "ideal curve" within the lane instead of the track most drivers take, because I've been conditioned to unconsciously recognise where it is. B

    • by s_p_oneil (795792)
      Damn. I was hoping that year of playing Carmageddon would pay off.
  • Wrong question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Snowgen (586732) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:19AM (#25232575) Homepage

    The question is, does gaming improve mental agility and make you a safer driver.

    That's the wrong question. A more correct question would be "Is there a correlation between gaming and driving ability?"

    It could very well be the there is no causal relationship between the two, but rather they share a common cause. Perhaps those without sufficient mental acuity/coordination to drive also lack the "mad skillz" needed for gaming, and thus they don't find games to be enjoyable and therefore don't play.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The question is, does gaming improve mental agility and make you a safer driver.

      That's the wrong question. A more correct question would be "Is there a correlation between gaming and driving ability?"

      It could very well be the there is no causal relationship between the two, but rather they share a common cause. Perhaps those without sufficient mental acuity/coordination to drive also lack the "mad skillz" needed for gaming, and thus they don't find games to be enjoyable and therefore don't play.

      It may be the wrong question, but it's probably the one they're basing their ideas on. Or this is a games-company sponsored stunt to try to reinforce the popular but scientifically groundless notion that playing games in old age is somehow good for you.

      I suppose though there could be a hundred other confounding factors like playing games being a marker of biological age, being around younger family, being the kind of person that is generall aware of the world around them, etc.

    • This is at least a novel approach by the insurance companies, but the Mayo Clinic recommends physical exercise to sharpen your mental agility (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/memory-improvement/HA00085).

      Personally, I would have people over a certain age re-take their driving test every few years.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Well video games ability correlates with surgical ability [sciencedaily.com], so I wouldn't be too surprised.

    • Games in general do NOT help with driving. Some games may help with reaction, but only give you a twitch reflex in certain situations.

      "Agility" skills are only improved by playing certain racing car games. That's right, driving simulation games help you with driving, no other type of game. Because I played quite a few racing games, I learned how to slow down well enough to take turns gracefully. Although it does not teach you how to speed up gracefully. From personal experience, they only help so little, b
  • TFA says "over 50". Who are you calling "elderly", you young whippersnapper? I may be a geezer, but my parents are elderly. I bet I could drink you under the table, Taco! You're only as old as you can convince yourself you're not.
  • Dude no joke.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Drakin020 (980931) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:19AM (#25232585)

    My brother was in an accident maybe 5 years ago or so. He was in his jeep on a 2 way road. A car was coming towards him and the driver was drunk. Right at the last moment the car swerved into my brothers lane. My brother was able to react and turn hard enough to allow the car to hit the back side of his jeep instead of the drivers side.

    He said his reaction time from playing video games was what helped him, and he really does believe that. I don't blame him nor do I doubt him. I always thought I had a higher reaction time as a result of video games, and I'm sure a study on this has been done to prove it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PlatyPaul (690601)

      I always thought I had a higher reaction time as a result of video games [...]

      So what you're saying is: you suck at gaming?

      • by Drakin020 (980931)
        It's 8:00 on a Thursday, and I'm not done drinking my tea....You get the idea. :-P
        • It's 8:00 on a Thursday, and I'm not done drinking my tea....You get the idea. :-P

          So gamers need caffeine in order to function properly. In that case, I think I'll need to raise the rates on all gamers that live more than 2 miles from a Starbucks.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I always thought I had a higher reaction time as a result of video games [...]

        So what you're saying is: you suck at gaming?

        Maybe he smokes pot when he games?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stephanruby (542433)

      He said his reaction time from playing video games was what helped him, and he really does believe that.

      So it wasn't the jolt of adrenaline, or the fact that he was becoming a more experienced driver, or the fact that he's of a particular astrological sign. It must be video games. That's the only explanation. If he believes that, then it it must be true.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "He said his reaction time from playing video games was what helped him, and he really does believe that. "

      WHile I ahve no doubt he believes, anecdotal evidence and confirmation bias are what he is believing.
      Not that he is wrong, only that the reason he believes is logically faulty.

      There ahve been studies and the seem to indicate that they do;however they aren't conclusive and better studies need to be done.
      There are some listed at pubmed.org.

  • So, you'll get an insurance discount for playing games, like, Grand Theft Auto? That makes sense...
  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:20AM (#25232595)
    I know it goes against the norm, but I actually read the article. It clearly states that the drivers in this program must play a very specific game designed to improve visual alertness. So if you thought that Allstate (the "insurers" in this article) was going to give discounts to WOW players, think again.
    • It clearly states that the drivers in this program must play a very specific game designed to improve visual alertness.

      I bet I know what game it is [roguesynapse.com].
    • The games' developer, San Francisco-based Posit Science, will track the total number of hours these drivers play. Then the group's accident rates will be compared to a control group of people who do not play the games.

      I wonder how the 'control group' gets selected. I would hate to be part of the control group of old geezers who first opt-in into this program, and then open eagerly their video game packet -- only to find it's 10 hours of Matlock tv -- that I'm required to watch instead.

  • by bonkeydcow (1186443) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:28AM (#25232707)
    You probably don't have a life, so you can drive less? World or Warcraft should give you an 80% discount on your car insurance, heck it could cover the monthly fee. I see synergy.
    • by DgtalPimp (1319239) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @11:53AM (#25233889)
      "State Farm how can I help you"?
      "I just finished leveling my Destro lock"
      "That's great sir. That qualifies you for a 5% discount on your annual rate, if your 6/8 T6 or higher we can adjust it to 10%, but you have to show a decent DPS AND join the State Farm guild".
      "Do I have to be in the guild for the 5% discount"?
      "No sir that's our standard no life, 'No life, No drive' discount"
      "Yeah your right, send the guild invite and mark me down for 10%".
    • by geekoid (135745)

      "heck it could cover the monthly fee"

      While you were being funny, that is an intriguing idea.

  • Depends on both the game and the gamer [sluggy.com]

  • Shouldn't they know WHICH game is being played?
  • Since I started playing Trackmania, I've started trying to improve my time from home to work...

  • Not for everyone. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @10:44AM (#25232943)

    While I agree that gaming may help reflexes I disagree that it has an inherent benefit on driving. Driving demands good decision-making and experience. What does it help to have quick reactions if you make poor decisions or over-react?

    I've known guys who played games extensively and were crap drivers. All that gaming didn't keep them from getting into accidents anyway. I doubt statistics would support the notion that the rise of gaming has had an positive impact on reducing accidents.

    Then there's the video online where some dumb kid and his friends play Initial D in the arcade and then decide to go out for a spin in their car. It doesn't take to long before this kid wrecks his car. Young people are already delusional enough about their driving abilities they don't need anyone making it worse.

    Older drivers, on the other hand, will ideally have commonsense and experience on their side. So for them, gaming may have a positive impact because they'll actually be able to put improved reflexes to good use.

    • by SQLGuru (980662)

      It isn't just games. I find that if I've spent some time at the go-cart track with my kid that I have to take a "cool down" break before driving home, otherwise, I'm more aggressive and driving too fast. When it comes to racing games and go-carts, I'm a mean, competetive person (and usually I win). On the real streets, I'm actually a generally safe driver. The hard part is making the transition between from mean to safe without that cool-down period.

      Layne

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by D Ninja (825055)

      Older drivers, on the other hand, will ideally have commonsense and experience on their side. So for them, gaming may have a positive impact because they'll actually be able to put improved reflexes to good use.

      Wrong. People typically overestimate their abilities and "judge" (can't think of a better word) other people's abilities. It's human nature.

      As for elderly being safer...let's see.

      1. An elderly lady, who had crappy night vision, thought she would be okay enough to drive. She struck my grandfather and tossed him 25 feet through the air and killed him.

      2. I live very close to a retirement community. Older drivers are a PITA. They constantly run stop signs, and if you have the gall (HORROR!) of using your h

      • Check the stats for accidents, as a percentage of drivers on the road, the elderly have far fewer accidents than the young. It doesn't matter how you slice the numbers, those drivers younger than 20 are much more dangerous than those drivers older than (pick a number).
        Before we start having driving tests for older people, we need to raise the minimum age at which one can get a driver's license in the first place.
        • by D Ninja (825055)

          Are you looking at all the stats when you're making that call?

          First, what percentage of younger drivers are on the road vs. elderly drivers? Additionally, what type of driving do elderly drivers do vs. younger drivers. Are elderly drivers juts going back and forth to the grocery store? Of course they're going to have far fewer accidents. Additionally, I highly doubt elderly drivers are driving every single day whereas younger drivers have jobs, friends they frequently see, trips back and forth to school

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Onaga (1369777)
      But we all know that space fighter video game experience [imdb.com] translates well into the real world
    • "While I agree that gaming may help reflexes I disagree that it has an inherent benefit on driving. "

      Especially when dealing with curves.

    • by DerWulf (782458)
      > What does it help to have quick reactions if you make poor decisions or over-react?

      Well, given the same skill in decision making and reacting meassured quicker reactions will beat slower ones. But it's not only reflexes. Gaming has been shown to improve processing in the visual cortex which is also a very important skill while driving.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      It has a positive effect on cognitive abilities; which is certianly a plus for driving.

      "Then there's the video online where some dumb kid and his friends play Initial D in the arcade and then decide to go out for a spin in their car."

      Just becasue it may train you to have better reflexes doesn't mean it makes you smarter.

  • These are the same aholes that think that texting or phoning while driving can be done safely.
  • So... (Score:2, Funny)

    Does Carmageddon count?
  • by jdrugo (449803) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @11:11AM (#25233293)
    There is a correlation between performance in visual tasks and the amount of time people have been playing action video games. The initial study [rochester.edu] has shown that action-video-game (AVG, e.g. Unreal Tournament, other ego-shooters) players perform significantly better in a range of visual attention tasks than non-AVG players. In later studies it has been shown that this increased performance is not observed for people who do play games that are not of the AVG-genre (e.g. The Sims), and also that 50h of game playing of AVG games is sufficient to observe a significant performance increase in visual tasks. Currently, the same lab is investigating whether this effect is also observed in the elderly, with positive initial results. For more information, just have a look at the lab's list of publications [rochester.edu] (disclaimer: I'm in the same department as that lab, though not member of that lab).

    In relation to the article, they seem to recommend the people to play games of the non-AVG type. For this reason I have my doubts that these games will significantly improve performance in visual tasks. On the other hand, it might support other tasks that are required while driving, but that remains to be shown.
    • by The Moof (859402)
      It's worth noting that it works both ways. There's a study [arstechnica.com] that claims playing certain games causes an increase in risky/dangerous driving, which would make you an increased threat.

      So while game may cause better hand-eye coordination and reaction times, they could also subconsciously make you more dangerous behind the wheel with your decision making and speed.
  • by Amazing Quantum Man (458715) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @11:19AM (#25233377) Homepage

    bad Japanese monster movies.

    I read the headline as "Cheaper Car Insurance For Gamera ".

    I guess Godzilla and Mothra have to pay more.

  • Wait.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CrazyTalk (662055) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @11:25AM (#25233465)
    So the are saying gamers don't drive as much, since they stay home playing games all the time, and therefore their insurance rates are cheaper?
  • by whizbang77045 (1342005) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @11:40AM (#25233661)
    I'm 65, and have spinal arthritis. There are mornings when I get up, and everything is normal, and mornings when I'm not functional. The problem sometimes is making sure how functional I am before I try to do anything, especially operating machinery or driving. I've found that playing a computer game before I do much else is a really good indicator of how well I am functioning. I also get the impression that playing the game for a while seems to improve my functionality. I don't consider this hard proof of anything. I do think it may be an indicator that there is something to this idea. It may merit serious research.
  • by Jimmy_B (129296) <slashdot @ j i m r a n domh.org> on Thursday October 02, 2008 @11:53AM (#25233899) Homepage

    Video games on the market today certainly don't help with driving, but it's not hard to imagine a game that would. Suppose you had a driving simulator that was realistic, but malicious: every 10-15 minutes, it modifies the world or the behavior of the other drivers to put you in an emergency situation. Pedestrians walk in front your car, drivers cross into opposing traffic, brakes fail, and so on. Your score is how long you can survive. *That* would make people better drivers, but I've never heard of such a game on the market.

    • by jcnnghm (538570)

      I don't see why the current games don't help. IMHO, one of the most important things that you can learn from racing games is to be constantly aware of the positions of the vehicles around you, so you are able to react when they move.

      I know when I drive, I am constantly aware of the type and visual appearance (maintenance state), lane position and relative speed, and driver alertness or potential impairment (e.g. swerving, tailgating, erratic braking). I attribute this, at least partially, to video games.

  • Somehow I really doubt that playing Final Fantasy XI increases my thinking speed.

  • Thats the general conclusion in sports and I think for cognitive skills too. If I want to improve my Chinese I read more Chinese etc. Learing more languages helps in over all language learning, but not substantially for a specific language.
  • Said elderly insurance patrons favorite game is Grand Theft Auto?
  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Thursday October 02, 2008 @12:41PM (#25234615)

    Pricing insurance does not, in itself, require a complete (or even partial) understanding of the cause-and-effect relationship between a rating variable and exposure to loss. The insurer (i.e., actuary) need only demonstrate that [1] inclusion of the variable in the rating plan results in a model more predictive of loss than without it; [2] it is verifiable; and [3] the variable is not "unfairly discriminatory"--that is, its use in risk classification is allowed by regulators. In truth, many other issues do come into play but these are the primary factors that the actuary considers when researching a new rating variable.

    To the extent that a correlation or causation is hypothesized or believed known, the actuary seeks to confirm it with historical data.

    The personal insurance market is very competitive. Insurers will try to develop the most accurate rating plan possible because they want to avoid adverse selection. Thus pricing actuaries do keep on the lookout (especially in bad underwriting cycles such as the one we're in right now) for more sophisticated ways to classify risks in their book, and if it is determined that elderly drivers who play games are a better risk than elderly drivers who do not play games, then a discount is actuarially justified and its use may provide a competitive advantage.

    Of course, that doesn't mean an insurer would actually use that variable, as one has to consider whether it can even be reliably known whether an individual is a gamer. What does that mean? You play more than N hours a day? You own a game console? How do you confirm this during the underwriting process? Does it drop off if the insured stops playing? Do they qualify if the grandson is the actual gamer in the household but the insured only plays very occasionally?

    To give you an example of how important verifiability is, note that in personal auto, the generally accepted exposure base is car-years, although mileage would be more predictive (think of it: two cars bought on 1/1/2000, one driver drives 40,000 miles/year, the other drives only 1,000 miles/year--which one has more exposure to loss?). The problem with using mileage as the exposure base is that it varies from year to year for a given insured, and is hard to confirm. Your agents aren't going to ask every last one of their policyholders to check their odometer, and even if they did, what is the chance they'll be honest if they know their premiums are directly tied to the result?

    That's why I don't put too much stock in this proposed classification--it doesn't seem that it would be sufficiently predictive of loss to justify using it, and moreover, it would be a pain to verify, for the reasons stated above.

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