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Are Gamers Safer Drivers?

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  • by Josh Triplett (874994) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @04:35AM (#35065118) Homepage
    • Depends on the OS too. -- How often have we heard that Linux has poor driver support!

      *hwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh*

    • by KiloByte (825081)

      Uhm, what does that game have to do to the article in question? Try Carmageddon!

      Except for initial levels, actually trying to race becomes tedious, hard and unprofitable so you end up winning every level by crashing all opponents. The best and most profitable way is head-on collisions.

      Due to great realism it damages you just a bit, and you can instantly repair paying cash -- with each collision with another car bringing far more than you pay for damages (so you can afford colliding with the environment).

      I

      • by MrEricSir (398214)

        Depending on your point of view, it's either funny or scary that I was playing Carmegeddon around the time I learned to drive.

        Every so often I wasn't as alert on the road as I should have been, and started thinking in terms of scoring points. Now thankfully, I never did drive over any old ladies IRL, because those walkers would cause a lot of damage to the bearings.

  • by big ben bullet (771673) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @04:36AM (#35065128) Homepage

    FTA: "Continental finds that frequent players of titles like Gran Turismo and Grand Theft Auto are more likely to crash their real-life cars than those that don't."

    There's a huge difference between driving a car in Gran Turismo (or any racing sim for that matter) and driving one in Grand Theft Auto. If you can keep your car on the road in Gran Turismo, there's a good chance you can keep it on the road in real life. If you drive your car like Carl or Niko... well...

    • If you can drive like Niko I think you need to get the Teflon taken off your tires.

      I found that when I started driving my experience in how cars maneuvered in videogames helped me learn the ropes faster. Since the games had much different control schemes than actually driving I didn't transfer any bad habits.

      • When I started driving, the only experience I had of racing video games was "Test Drive II: The Duel". Sadly, it was nothing like a real car.
    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      I think it is more to do with the competitive nature of games. In real life the best way to drive is considerately and somewhat cautiously, but in a game the only thing that really matters is beating everyone else to the finish line.

      Even the summary is quite adversarial, putting the two studies "head to head".

      • by PachmanP (881352)

        I think it is more to do with the competitive nature of games. In real life the best way to drive is considerately and somewhat cautiously, but in a game the only thing that really matters is beating everyone else to the finish line.

        It sounds like somebody doesn't drive in a location with a lot of bad traffic.

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      "Continental finds that frequent players of titles like Gran Turismo and Grand Theft Auto are more likely to crash their real-life cars than those that don't."
      Really, and does it also mention that there is a strong correlation between people who play GTA and Gran Turismo and people who are relatively new and inexperienced drivers? No, why mention that. That would totally invalidate the survey that some special interest paid them to do.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      There's a huge difference between driving a car in Gran Turismo (or any racing sim for that matter) and driving one in Grand Theft Auto.

      I won't say "you're doing it wrong", but Niko in particular has access to what seems to me to be a pretty fantastic physics simulation, and you have the option to not run into everything you see. (Sometimes, of course, running into something is the best course of action in the game...)

  • "We're not sure..."

  • by mentil (1748130) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @04:44AM (#35065154)

    TFA says that those who play games are more likely to be involved in certain types of accidents, but doesn't say whether they controlled for age. The accidents they're more likely to be involved in? Running red lights, road rage, or "low-percentage passes" whatever that means. I suspect playing Gran Turismo doesn't lead to running red lights or road rage.

    • by BigSes (1623417)
      To my knowledge, a low-percentage pass is overtaking another vehicle when the upcoming road is obsurced in some way. As in, you push to pass the junker in front of you without completely being able to see if the passing lane ahead is completely open. At that point, you may have to quickly shove yourself back in front of the car you just passed, as your passing lane may be taken. I assume it means "low-percentage of success" or "low-visibility of oncoming traffic or hazards."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @04:44AM (#35065158)

    I always get pulled over when I try up up down down left right left right on the freeway.

  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @04:45AM (#35065164)

    What makes you a better driver is:

    - Respect for other people on the road
    - Courteous driving
    - Attentiveness to road conditions and what others are doing.
    - Doing a defensive driving course that teaches you how long it *actually* takes to stop.

    I have not RTFA (proper slashdot style!) - if it states that gaming effects different attitudes then I am all for changing my opinion.

    • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mark-t (151149) <[markt] [at] [lynx.bc.ca]> on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @05:03AM (#35065238) Journal

      What makes you a better driver is:

      • Respect for other people on the road
      • Courteous driving
      • Attentiveness to road conditions and what others are doing.
      • Doing a defensive driving course that teaches you how long it *actually* takes to stop.

      Quoted for truth. Most video games, save those that perhaps are specifically geared towards teaching safe driving practices (of which I've heard of exactly zero outside of any sort of classes or programs for driver's education ), do not typically reward any of the above, and a person who plays driving video games will not be practicing any more than anybody else who is behind the wheel of a real vehicle just as frequently. At the very worst, playing driving games could possibly even create bad driving habits as the above practices are ignored.

      • by cronius (813431)

        At the very worst, playing driving games could possibly even create bad driving habits as the above practices are ignored.

        So it's probably not wrong to conclude that since none of the mechanics above are relevant in video games (as you're saying, they're ignored) there's no transfer of either good or bad habits to real life.

        (It would be different if e.g. you drive around in congested traffic for a big part of the game and learn that if you time your red lights correctly you can plow through an intersection.)

        I think car physics are probably more transferable. I used to love Colin McRea Rally 2, and with an expensive wheel with

        • by iangoldby (552781)

          Car physics are largely irrelevant when you are driving courteously, paying attention, and using sensible defensive driving techniques.

          Car physics become important when you take a corner too fast, overtake in the wrong place, don't allow sufficient stopping distance, become distracted, or someone cuts you up and you haven't planned an escape route. The trick is not to get into that situation in the first place.

        • Top Gear did a really interesting segment awhile ago where they talked (a little) about Finnish drivers. One of the interesting things that they talk about is how Finland produces some of the best drivers in the world. The reason for that is that the Finns take driving very very seriously, and they basically learn to rally drive when they learn to drive. When you consider the conditions that they typically have to drive in, this makes perfect sense. So I would say yes, driving a rally car on a track mak
        • Not sure if this is such a big issue in the USA, where I believe (please correct me here) most people learn to drive and continue to drive automatic cars, but here in Europe where the majority of cars are manual (stick shift I think you call it?) learning clutch control is a big issue. In the UK you can even take an automatic-only driving test which only allows you to drive automatic cars after you've passed, but very few people do so. I think the only people who take the automatic-only test are people with

      • by Caue (909322)
        Yeah, let's just disregard anything said by those damn scientists. bah. Both my parents are university teachers, with good resumes. The thing they hate the most is when their students say things like: "I reckon yadda yadda yadda..." or "I think yadda yadda yadda", pulling their own concepts with no research or anything like it. I know it seems common sense, but maybe you guys shouldn't be so quick in your assumptions - always remember: in a perfect world, a research only comes available to the public when i
        • There are many research fields where statistics don't provide the answers.

          Don't start me, I just finished a PhD and spent a lot of time thinking about research methods ;-)

          But yeah, we all just hang around on slashdot for pleasure so taking most of the things here with a pinch of salt is probably wise. Nice when people link out to decent resources though...

      • by Moraelin (679338)

        Hmm? I'm pretty sure that most games had an advantage if you can do at least some of those. Not all games are Grand Theft Auto.

        Respect for other people on the road

        I don't think any games teach one to respect some NPCs, but there can be as big a penalty as you wish for colliding into them.

        Courteous driving

        Again, maybe not "courtesy" as such, but you can learn that if you drive all over the place you're going to get rammed.

        Attentiveness to road conditions and what others are doing.

        Are you kidding? I'd like to

      • I once played a game that was called "Bus Driver" (or something like that) where you had to drive a bus. You lost points for getting into accidents, running red lights, accelerating/braking too hard, etc. It was kinda interesting. I'm pretty sure it didn't sell too many copies.

      • by tixxit (1107127)

        Defensive driving is actually often rewarded in racing games. Many racing games have such a low tolerance for failure (crashing, going off the track, etc) that staying clear of the other cars, being attentive, watching other cars, and knowing how long it takes to stop in game is pretty much a necessity to win. And while it certainly isn't your life, the prospect of having to redo (and win) the previous 4 tracks in the championship you just raced (30+ minutes) is a pretty good motivation to simply be defensi

    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Totenglocke (1291680) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @05:23AM (#35065320)

      You're confusing the different meanings of the word "better". You mean "better" as in "friendlier to other drivers", where this study means "better at actually driving the car" (judging angles for corners, slow-in-fast out with corners, learning how hard of a corner you can pull and the warning signs of when you're getting close to the limit, etc).

      In regards to your comment about a driving course that teaches you how long it "actually" takes to stop - there are SO many different factors involved in braking that there is no "actual" time / distance it takes to stop from a given speed for cars in general - hell, even ONE car if you change the brake pads, rotors, tires, and suspension can have two dramatically different braking distances.

      The real key to being a good driver is to know your car. That's one of the reasons I strongly advocate manual transmissions - not only does it cut out the whole "I've got a burger in one hand and a cell phone in the other" driving, but it also requires you to intimately know your car and pay more attention, which makes you a much better driver.

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        The real key to being a good driver is to know your car. That's one of the reasons I strongly advocate manual transmissions - not only does it cut out the whole "I've got a burger in one hand and a cell phone in the other" driving, but it also requires you to intimately know your car and pay more attention...

        to your car and less attention to the road. I like my fake-manual transmission when I want to accelerate fast, but I can feel the extra thought it takes to shift.

        • Spoken like someone who's never driven a manual. You pay attention to the road because you need to know what's coming so you know when to shift, what gear you need (hills, corners, etc) - you pay more attention to how close you get to other drivers (especially when stopping at hills) and you pay more attention to everything going on. Every person I know who went from driving a manual on a regular basis to driving an automatic on a regular basis openly admits that owning an automatic has made them a worse

          • As another manual purist I wholly agree with all of the above. The nice thing about manuals is even an old car can beat a lot of new automatics from a dead stop simply because the manual driver can torque the lower gears as long as they want. Downside of course is in heavy traffic it feels like you're walking to your destination. However, each year it becomes harder and harder to find a good manual car, and you can forget manual trucks and vans, they haven't existed in decades. Pretty soon the only people w
            • Thank you for pointing out heavy traffic, its nice to know some manual drivers understand that facet. As someone who drives 30+ minutes 2x a day 5x a week in stop-and-go traffic, I would never touch a manual. Some things are worth effort, and shifting my car every 15 seconds for 5 hours a week is not one of them.

              Another point is out-of-shape or old people: I know some older people here who have switched from manuals solely due to the soreness in their leg from driving in that same traffic. I'd rather ot

        • to your car and less attention to the road. I like my fake-manual transmission when I want to accelerate fast, but I can feel the extra thought it takes to shift.

          The reason you can feel the extra thought is that you let the car shift most of the time. In my car with a manual transmission, I will be in third gear and not even remember shifting. It becomes automatic. Plus, one has a lot more control over a car with a manual transmission.

        • by Cowmonaut (989226)
          If after two weeks of driving a manual you still have to think to shift then you're doing something wrong. Really, once you drive a manual for a while it becomes second nature and you don't think about it. Since I've switched I'll never be able to back to an automatic and be comfortable for long periods of time.
        • Ha! That's a fun conclusion. Let's think about this. In a manual, when you shift up or down, it dramatically affects how your car is going to respond (more power, or mroe speed? etc.). Whereas if you drive an automatic transmission, your car is going to respond in whatever manner it is programmed to. So, driving stick, you pay attention to the road, the grade, the bank, and so on, because you need to know the appropriate power necessary to negotiate a maneuver given the road. Driving automatic, however, you
      • I will second that. A few years back I went to one of those F1 go-kart racing places. The whole time I was racing I was thinking about Gran Turismo. The physics in that game are very realistic, and the skills I learned in the game transferred directly to the track; when to start braking, when to turn in, what angle to look for, when to start accelerating again, etc. I ended up 2nd out of 20, and the buy who beat me was a German who was used to driving his Porsche on the autobahn.
      • In regards to your comment about a driving course that teaches you how long it "actually" takes to stop - there are SO many different factors involved in braking that there is no "actual" time / distance it takes to stop from a given speed for cars in general - hell, even ONE car if you change the brake pads, rotors, tires, and suspension can have two dramatically different braking distances.

        So what? Of course there will be technical differences in stop times but general rules (heuristics) exist and those a

    • What makes you a better driver is:
      - Respect for other people on the road
      - Courteous driving
      - Attentiveness to road conditions and what others are doing.
      - Doing a defensive driving course that teaches you how long it *actually* takes to stop.

      Very true, however what makes you *avoid* accidents are quick reflexes and being able to control the vehicle under extreme conditions.

      I've had two cars totaled by rear end crashes. In both cases the drivers who hit me were middle-aged women who would never dream of having road rage or tailgating someone, but they couldn't control their cars when traffic suddenly shifted around them.

      In most cases it's wrong to attribute the cause of a traffic accident to one driver alone, there are circumstances where a driv

    • by Xacid (560407)

      One of the best pieces of advice on how to be a better driver given to me by my driving instructor ages ago: BE PREDICTABLE.

      Simple as that. It's easy to remain safe on the road when you can anticipate events - even stupid events with enough warning.

      Beyond that - I wish people would realize tailgating doesn't gain them anything. Rather - I wish officers would start enforcing this more than speeding. This isn't NASCAR where drafting is ok. This is a bio-mechanical ecosystem filled with machines that crunch an

    • Most of the dangers drivers create on the road, most of the problems, are related to bad practices, not to skill. Things like not watching the road, refusing to yield, driving aggressively, speeding, etc, etc. You look at most of the accidents and these are the kind of things that were in play. It is far more rare to find something where the driver was doing what they were supposed to, but simply lacked the skill or reflexes or whatever to be able to deal with the situation. It happens, of course, but it is

  • Anecdote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by guyminuslife (1349809) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @04:54AM (#35065204)

    Most of my friends are big video game players. A number of them are nutso drivers. We all used to play Mario Kart when we were 14, one friend in particular would always win. Great reflexes, totally twitch, and when he turned 16, he took to driving a real car like it was a game.

    I don't remember how many cars he's crashed. He's mellowed out on the road over the years, as hyper-aggressive teen drivers tend to do when they hit their twenties, but I still get nervous when I see him near a car.

    He's technically proficient with a vehicle. Yes, he can maneuver out of a tricky situation much better than I can. On the other hand, he's more likely to put himself in a tricky situation than anyone I've ever met. He would try to min-max his driving, slam on the brakes not a second later than he needed to, slow down only at the brink of an accident, and tailgate like crazy. These are all very good things to do in Mario Kart. In the highway, you've probably seen someone like him: that maniac who zooms past you when you're already going 10 over, swerves a foot in front of you to avoid rear-ending a semi, and vanishes on the horizon.

    He might even drop a banana in your lane.

    • I can nail snap shots with ungodly annoying precision in FPSes, and love to master arcade racers like Need for Speed in between coding sessions. I like to think I'm an above average gamer. The only traits I have that might be partially attributed to a life of gaming are that I don't startle easily and I'm very slow to stress.

      I'm not a crazy driver. I'm happy speeding at 80mph like anyone else who grew up in Southern California, but I'm otherwise safe and entirely unlike the kind of person you describe.

    • We all used to play Mario Kart when we were 14

      And I used to play Space Invaders, that's why I always shoot first when I see an UFO. I think you are mixing cause and effect here, your friend seems to have an aggressive personality, that reflects in both his driving and game playing.

      I have played several car simulators using a force feedback wheel and I think this has improved my driving. When the car starts slipping for some reason I'm able to regain control easily. Real life cars usually have more grip than simulator cars (because they are driven much

    • These are all very good things to do in Mario Kart. In the highway, you've probably seen someone like him: that maniac who zooms past you when you're already going 10 over, swerves a foot in front of you to avoid rear-ending a semi, and vanishes on the horizon.

      Not quite. Usually that maniac zooms past you, swerve a foot in front of you, then abruptly slams on his brakes because he failed to look past the end of his hood and realize there was a *reason* for the speed you were going ;)

    • He would [...] tailgate like crazy. These are all very good things to do in Mario Kart.

      I don't know what version of Mario Kart you lot played, but tailgating was NEVER a good idea unless you had a green shell and even then it was often just a chance to get something dumped in your lap before you could pull the trigger. Duh.

      In fact, it was one of the only Mario Kart lessons that actually transitions well to real driving: Don't stay too close behind people, you never know what kind of crazy shit they're about to try.

  • by mark-t (151149) <[markt] [at] [lynx.bc.ca]> on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @04:54AM (#35065206) Journal
    Most gamers that I know tend to be more aggressive drivers. So no... I'd say that they aren't safer at all. At most they handle vehicles with more confidence and a greater sense of control, but there is far more to really driving safely than just being confident behind the wheel of a car.
    • I personally have exactly the opposite: all of my friends who play car games and me are all very responsible and careful on the streets, we anticipate things, keep a keen eye on our surroundings, and start braking very early just to avoid any accidents or mishappenings.

      Personally, I don't think games really have anything to do with this. It's the personality: some people just tend to be more aggressive and careless and thus it reflects in both their real-life driving and virtual driving, not because virtual

    • by steelfood (895457)

      And I bet most of those same gamers are male, under 30, and childless.

  • About ten years ago I had a driving test. My brother had just bought a steering wheel + pedals, so I ended up playing Gran Turismo (I forget the version) the whole day before. Failed due to excessive speeding. No damage though.

  • by mvar (1386987) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @04:55AM (#35065212)
    Top Gear tested this on laguna seca track back in 2005. Clarkson attempted to beat his gran turismo record of 1.41 but only made it to 1.57, and he said that the game omitted a few details of the track, and the game's physics allowed him to brake later when coming into turns than he could in real life. Video here [youtube.com]. And since we're on the "safety" thing, you cannot press a key to restore your car on the track
    • That's not contradicting the study - that's simply saying that the game is not a 100% perfect recreation of real life. The game clearly taught him the track well enough that he got pretty damn close to his game time, especially given that (as most games go, I'm assuming Gran Tourismo does this too) the in-game cars are significantly faster than their real life counterparts.

      And since we're on the "safety" thing, you cannot press a key to restore your car on the track

      I dunno, I heard that Bill Gates has that option.... ;-)

    • by mayko (1630637)

      I remember this same episode, and I believe his experience was also testament to the actual fear of driving a real 3,000lb vehicle to the absolute brink; it not that he was physically unable to brake late in real life... he wasn't mentally able to so the way he had in the game. The most crucial thing a game like gran turismo omits is the g-forces exerted on the driver. This whole experience also goes to show the amount of skill, patience, and fearlessness a professional race driver has to push a car to the

      • by hb253 (764272)
        You bring up a good point. I think most people don't have an appreciation of how difficultt REAL racing can be both mentally and physically. I was watching the Rolex Daytona 24 hour race this past weekend. One of the drivers was being interviewed after his stint, and the sweat was POURING from his face. It's a helluva workout.
  • Carmageddon really made me a better driver : I'm able to get a triple combo bonus when aiming an old lady, followed by a kid, then a dog.
  • Simulators (GTR/iRacing etc) might very well do, in a car without ABS I managed to get round a corner of black ice without an issue, as I knew what to do past the level of grip, to regain it, while the car infront went into a ditch, funny really (nobody was hurt) as I was the early 20's driver and the other guy was very middle age.

    • by Krneki (1192201)

      Simulators (GTR/iRacing etc) might very well do, in a car without ABS I managed to get round a corner of black ice without an issue, as I knew what to do past the level of grip, to regain it, while the car infront went into a ditch, funny really (nobody was hurt) as I was the early 20's driver and the other guy was very middle age.

      True that, but most accidents do not com from exceptional road situations, but from stupid people mistakes.

      In order to become safer on the road we don't need to be better drivers, all we need is more care and patience.

  • One of the reasons I never got a drivers license was because I was afraid I would treat it a bit like a computer game (the main other reason was just a general lack of interest in cars and public transport otherwise sufficed).

    Probably a good thing - occasionally I've walked down the street and been so lost in thought I've stopped (consciously) processing visual input and once even crossed a road in this state.

  • The only help I got from gaming was horning the reflex I needed when driving, in the snow. And have zero problems viewing the minimap aka GPS once in a while. I know many people that aren't gamers, with a low visual bandwidth, that has trouble looking at the GPS, even for 1 second. So I think gaming improves your visual bandwidth somewhat.

    The most helpful advice I got from my driving instructor was always noticing what's around me while I was driving, and always know your safe spots (where to steer) in c

    • The visual bandwidth is a good point. Games tend to spread important information all around the screen and that helps with real-world cars, since they, too, have a map there, a speedometer there, a radio down there and three mirrors around the other edges of the screen. Being able to track all that without losing focus on the main part is very important. Hard to do for most non-gamers, but trivial for people that have been playing FPS games all their youth.

      Being able to track a large number of "opponents" a

  • Gamers are more likely to be young men, who are already much more accident-prone than the average. Did the studies take this into acount?

    • by Bengie (1121981)

      Both "Gamers" and "Accident Prone" are subsets of "Young Men". How much do these two subsets overlap?

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      The problem is that video games NEVER model physics correctly. All driving games also lack haptic feedback like feeling the rear wheels slip out.

      If you have a young male child that loves driving games, the bes thing you can do is get them into REAL racing. Start with kart racing and then upgrade as their skills upgrade. Even full car dirt oval is cheap to get into, I raced from 13 years to 18 years old. I was driving a piece of crap on a dirt oval at 16 years old against 18-40 year olds and learned mo

  • And here are my reasons.

    1. There is the fact that with most video games, we are forced in game to pay attention to everything that moves as it may be a threat. This is the case in First Person Shooters as well as driving games. In order to not get ganked by either the game's AI or by other players, we gamers need to learn spacial awareness and the ability to access and analyze anything that could potentially be a threat and/or opposition.

    2. The Unites States Air Force frequently uses Microsoft Flight Simula

  • Now shut up before I run you into the guard rail!

  • One study looked at players of FPS games and found them to be better at answering quick decision questions after playing than players of Sims. And speculate that those decision making abilities might be useful in driving, maybe...

    The other looked at players of race driving games, and found that they crash their real cars more often than non-players. With no reference to the actual study (well other than "in the print edition of Metro") so no idea if players of racing games just drive more or whatever other

  • Back when I was doing driver's ed, my instructor asked me if I played video games. He said that he had noticed that people who played video games tend to grasp the visual feedback quicker than most people. So that most 15 year olds see a straight road and don't steer, gamers would constantly make corrections based on visual feedback, because that was already a natural thing to do.
  • don't know about games but cycling made me the most uber-defensive driver on the planet. nothing like having 1 mm of lycra between you and insane people in cars to teach some situational awareness. I operate under the assumption that everyone on the road is out to get me and will do something stupid at any moment.
    • Same thing goes for riding a motorcycle. Once you've had someone in a car cut you off at 70 miles an hour while on a bike, or once you've had someone with their 5 ton pick-up truck change lanes into you like you don't even exist, you learn really quick just how dangerous driving really is. When there is nothing between you and a body cast save some kevlar and nylon, you wise-up to just what dickheads other drivers are...mostly due to incompetence rather than aggression.
  • I used to be an almost anal retentive driver because I'd been hit a couple of times by careless drivers. About 3 years ago, I was thinking about getting a stick shift and I bought a Logitech wheel and GTR2 (a full-blown racing simulator) to practice with to get the coordination down. Having never been a racing fan, I found myself hooked on the driving lessons and competition. I started subconsciously crossing lines in the road to "follow the best line" and getting as close as I could to inside curbs. It

  • ...because they examined completely different aspects of driving. U Rochester looked at reaction times, and found that gamers tend to be superior to non-gamers. Continental appears to have done some statistical analysis and found gamers are more likely to be involved in a collision. In other words, people who like to drive fast and take risks like to play games that involve driving fast. What are the odds?

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