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Video Games Boost Visual Skills 355

cmburns69 writes "A new study published in Nature Magazine (MSNBC summary) suggests that playing action games improves visual skills. Among other things, young adults who played action games such as Grand Theft Auto and Medal of Honor regularly could track up to five objects at a time - 30% more than non-players. Apparently, the game type is important, as ten hours of the block-rotating game Tetris failed to improve test scores."
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Video Games Boost Visual Skills

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  • by sweeney37 ( 325921 ) * <mikesweeney AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:04PM (#6063106) Homepage Journal
    I've been playing video games my entire life, and yet I've had 5 automobile accidents, countless number of knife mishaps and I am probably up for "most likely to be on 'America's Funniest Home Videos'".

    so we all know what this means, I need to play even MORE video games, or less Grand Theft Auto.

    • ...or maybe move from the 'hood.
      Countless knife mishaps?
    • stop (Score:2, Funny)

      by waspleg ( 316038 )
      suck1ng y0u n00b, y0u n33d m4d CS sk1llz t0 b3 l1k3 n30...

      (CAUTION: preceding is sarcasm; post-disclaimer for the retarded)

    • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:18PM (#6063231) Homepage Journal
      I've been playing video games my entire life, and yet I've had 5 automobile accidents, countless number of knife mishaps and I am probably up for "most likely to be on 'America's Funniest Home Videos'".

      I had lots of accidents when I was younger, but many of them because I was an aggressive driver. One potential problem (note: this is anecdotal) is games may have reinforced a very competitive personality. I.e. those things within my control I'll push to the limit to win, those outside my control I'll just swear at. Solution to the aggressive driving thing, get a vehicle with little pep and decent gas mileage. Patience is a virtue, especially as it keeps you out of many accidents and lowers the points on your record.

      so we all know what this means, I need to play even MORE video games, or less Grand Theft Auto.

      Delving into the actual study may reveal it's games which encourage good on-the-fly plan developing and limited time spent on it and a good diet (the study center only fed the subjects healthy food.) I know when I was seriously hooked on games I'd skip food until my bloodsugar made me twitchy.

      • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @11:51PM (#6064604) Homepage Journal
        I haven't had an accident in some time, at least not one related to aggression (I hydroplaned and spun in petaluma going north on 101, sigh) and I'm still an aggressive driver. The trick is to learn both how to read other drivers, and to learn when not to be aggressive.

        I tried driving defensively for a while, but I just got shat upon. Now I still zoom up alongside people who don't appear to be paying adequate attention, I just assume they're going to fuck up and I watch for it. I don't get myself into situations I can't brake or accelerate (or otherwise manouver) out of.

        As for the food, though, you're spot on. Eating properly helps a lot. Getting enough rest does just as much for you. Your body needs fuel and sleep, and not giving it enough of both will ruin your productivity, or at least your consistency.

        • Exactly. The trick is to assume that everyone on the road will do the stupidest thing possible, because they probably will.
        • by default luser ( 529332 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @11:09AM (#6067739) Journal
          1. Buy yourself a car with anti-lock brakes. No, I'm not kidding, you're a fucking fool if you pass up this wonder of technology. Uneven streets, potholes, oily spots, sheets of water, steel plates...ALL of the above and more can cause you to lose traction when you brake. Streets suck, and they're only getting worse.

          2. Assume everyone around you is a complete idiot. On multi-laned highways, never sit in a driver's blind spot, either give a half a car length or pass him. Even more, be aware of other drivers and their intentions. Watch them, you will notice distinct patterns, such that you can anticipate a driver's intent even when the asshole doesn't use a signal. BE CAREFUL OF ANY ERRATIC DRIVERS, these are the worst because you cannot possibly predict their intent. Give them plenty of ground and sneak past only if it's safe.
          • Or as I put it, drive like everyone else is out to get you. And your best defense is staying the hell out of their reach!! (Just like DOOM :)

            A long-standing oddity: apparently idiots do cue their actions in ways the brain doesn't consciously notice, thus: Sometimes I get the urge to call some driver an idiot, frex I'll find myself saying, "Don't you dare pull out in front of me, you asshole" and every bloody time, the car that got my attention does something stupid or potentially deadly.

            Dunno about antilo
    • by CrazyJim0 ( 324487 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:31PM (#6063349)
      I learned two things from video games:

      Strategy and reflexes, both help my driving.

      Aside from one incident where I almost rammed someone's car after playing too much destruction derby, I am a wicked driver.

      I've physically dodged some wild accidents, and once I powerslided to dodge an accident... Since my car is shorter perpendicular to the road as opposed to straight on it, I avoided an accident by a few inches... People who don't use their turn signal are asking for it.

      Mainly I avoid accidents by putting a ton of car lengths ahead of me... Sure aggressive drivers can juke in, but those fuckers are just as likely to juke out too. All that dodging is not a sign of a good driver, just a retard.
    • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:32PM (#6063353) Homepage
      Without games you probably wouldn't have survived this long. Imagine all the additional auto accidents and knife mishaps you would have suffered without all the training. ;-)
    • so we all know what this means, I need to play even MORE video games, or less Grand Theft Auto.

      I've heard that porn can improve one's fine motor skills.
    • I've been playing video games my entire life, and yet I've had 5 automobile accidents, countless number of knife mishaps and I am probably up for "most likely to be on 'America's Funniest Home Videos'".

      Well, if you didn't play video games, you probably would no longer be around to irritate us.

    • by Cynikal ( 513328 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:24PM (#6063774) Homepage
      the article said "playing action games improves visual skills." it said nothing about enhancing reasoning skills... if you cant drive: dont.. and dont play with knives no more
  • by banzai75 ( 310300 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:06PM (#6063125)
    I knew Virtual Valerie had to be good for me.
  • by Kethinov ( 636034 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:06PM (#6063127) Homepage Journal
    Several friends of mine credit their above average vocabularies and problem solving abilities to RPGs among other games. There's a reason why most nerdy smart people play video games!
    • by RyatNrrd ( 662756 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:24PM (#6063289) Homepage Journal
      A pity then even nerdy smart people can seldom recognise the fact that correlation does not tell you the direction of causation. Do RPGs make you smarter, or do smart people like just RPGs?

      • by juuri ( 7678 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:43PM (#6063425) Homepage
        Personally I blame, er praise, RPGs for my full backpack. Thanks to needing every random item known to mankind to beat the evil boss and save the world my day to day backpack has way too much shit in it.

        Do I really need my laptop when I go out today? What about sunglasses? Extra memeory for the digital camera? Wait, do I even need the camera. OF COURSE I DO!@#!@# WHO KNOWS WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN!@#$!R

        I really do believe RPGs can help one home problem solving skills, something that seems to be pretty lacking in our society these days. Of course I don't have any proof for this but it seems that everyone I know who likes and is good at RPGs are pretty good at solving problems but not all of these people are what would normally be considered smart.
      • I believe that smart people like RPGs, and RPGs make smart people smarter. Stupid people playing an RPG would probably make them feel stupid and inferior, not learning much. It's called conditional causation.
        Play RPG ------> Smarter
        • My theory is this. The reason it seems that more smart people play RPGs is due to Darwinism, survival of the fittest. A person with below average reasoning skills would most likely become frustrated with the in game puzzles provideed by RPG's and quit playing when they can't figure out how to do something. A smart person would grab a stratigy guide and learn to enjoy the game by reaping the knowldege provided by people who have played the game more times than they ever will.
    • by Dimensio ( 311070 ) <darkstar AT iglou DOT com> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:27PM (#6063317)
      Odd. The dialogue in many of the console RPGs that I have played would, IMO, lead to a decrease in verbal skills. What kind of spoony friends do you have?
    • Yes they do seem to use quite large vocabularies in games. It's help me, that or possibly Neil Peart.
    • Several friends of mine credit their above average vocabularies and problem solving abilities to RPGs among other games

      As opposed to living in a van, down by the river, it is always a good idea to interact with others, on most any level (going to the 7-Eleven...talking with your probation officer...apologizing for the dog, when he eats your math homework, etc.), if you wish to improve your vocabulary and problem solving skills. Crediting RPGs is like thanking the YMCA for keeping city buses from running
    • by Minna Kirai ( 624281 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:48PM (#6064053)
      I assume by "RPG" you mean the pre-computerized, pen & paper variety. (Too many people today think of Final Fantasy VII when "RPG" is mentioned)

      I can really believe that reading books like the 1st editions of TSR's AD&D (the Gygax DMG especially) and White Wolf's WOD series could help your vocabulary. Those things are chock full of gratuitously esoteric 10-dollar words ("Lycanthropy?" "Protean!").

      The later versions of those game books seemed to aim at progressively wider audiences (the influence of publishers wanting sales and editors wanting readability), so the word choice became more accessible and pedestrian.
  • by tomakaan ( 673394 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:06PM (#6063128)
    And Mom always said Video Games would kill all of my brain cells!
  • by rune2 ( 547599 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:07PM (#6063138) Homepage
    But everybody was cheating so it didn't matter anyway.
  • by Peter S. Housel ( 26481 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:08PM (#6063141) Homepage
    ... is that people who can't track that many objects at once are turned off by games and don't play them. The article doesn't say whether they tried to account for this factor or not.
    • by The Only Druid ( 587299 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:14PM (#6063202)
      This is unfortunately a flaw of this type of scientific experiment. While it seems to fit the formula for a proper experiment at first (make a prediction, test it with an experimental group while not testing it on a control group, compare results with your prediction, analyze), its flawed in that it doesn't make it clear whether its a causal connection or merely coincidence (i.e. the two traits - game playing and better visual acuity - may be connected not because they affect each other, but because of some third locus), and moreover if its causal it doesn't determine which causes which.

      The way to test this, of course, is to test the groups' visual abilities first at the onset of the experiment, then have them play the games extensively for a lengthy period of time (several weeks, months, or years depending on how long such neurological structures take to emerge), then test those abilities again.
      • Nor does the experiment link 'improved visual acuity' with any sort of real-life advantage. So you can track more objects in a controlled lab? So the hell what? How does this translate to *any* sort of advantage outside of the lab, or the game?

        You could speculate of course, but the speculation is even more specious than the claim itself. And one has to wonder - even if there is a real, provable advantage - what one gives up by playing these games night and day in order to get 'improved visual acuity'?
    • by snarkh ( 118018 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:15PM (#6063203)
      They did the some experiments training people as well to play computer games. Sure enough, performance improved.

      I don't see this result as anything particularly surprising. If you work out, you become stronger. If you have to track multiple objects on screen, your tracking ability improves.

      • If you have to track multiple objects on screen, your tracking ability improves.
        Not necessarily, because the article states that improvement was apparent in games like Grand Theft Auto or Medal of Honor, but not in Tetris. So the researcher hypothesized that perhaps when people have to defend themselves they learn quicker. It's possible that might be the pearl of this research.
      • by TheWickedKingJeremy ( 578077 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @09:30AM (#6066866) Homepage
        I don't see this result as anything particularly surprising.

        You may not be surprised, but remember that we are talking about video games here. Think about what the average parent or teacher thinks about the hobby of playing video games. Remember that bashing video games as a waste of time and a cause of anti-social disorders and/or depression is a frequent past-time of the press. Remember that the fact that the Columbine kids played Doom was often mentioned when talking about the murders.

        When a study comes out that proves that there are real-world, physical benefits to playing GTA3 -- this would definitely surprise a lot of people. Gamers often already know about these benefits. I, for instance, have noticed that my positioning and directional skills seem to be better than most peoples. For example, if we are driving in an area which we are not familiar with - making a lot of turns, etc - I notice that I am able to keep my bearings on the cardinal directions (i.e. which way is north, etc) much better than most people. These skills have been tuned playing first-person shooters for many years, as in those games it is a strategic advantage to "make sense" of the map as a whole, despite the fact that they can only see a little bit of it at any given time. Whenever you make a turn, you mentally map your position and bearings on a top-down mental image of sorts. At any given time, you know the direction of all the previous rooms you have been to - even on a large map. Not everyone can do this well without practice.
    • by MoTec ( 23112 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:25PM (#6063301)
      The article's references do mention that they compared "habitual" game players with non game players and (no suprise) they scored higher. It makes sense that a lot of that would have to do with what you mentioned.

      It also mentions, however: In a fifth experiment, non-players trained on an action video game show marked improvement from their pre-training abilities, thereby establishing the role of playing in this effect.

      So, even tho the habitual gamers outscored non-videogame players there is apparently some "training" possible.
    • by koreth ( 409849 ) * on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:28PM (#6063323)
      Salon's version of the story [] says they did account for that (by testing a group of non-gamers along with the gamers). The non-gamers didn't benefit from Tetris but did benefit from the fast-action games.
    • is that with games you are honing your center vision, able to track more objects in a limited field of view. however, this would mean you have lower peripheral vision capabilities.

      i mean, brain only has this much computation power, spending a lot of time staring straight into the screen in front of you would certainly hone a different type of ability than, say, soccer, where you'd better be aware of the guy behind you who would probably put a leg in your crouch in risk of a red card but toss you out of the
    • you certainly make a valid pont, but then theres my brother in law who can barely track his own player on the screen, but lord help him, he keeps trying
    • Another possibility is that you read the article:
      But subsequent tests on novices showed that just ten hours of shooting baddies can improve visual attention.
      Notice: novices.
  • I always held the belief that hand-eye coordination was vastly improved through video gaming.
    • In my own personal experience, hand-eye coordination doesn't improve much from gaming.. But my twitch-eye coordination is really great. I can catch flies with my bare hands!

      On the other hand, ewwww!
  • by twoallbeefpatties ( 615632 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:10PM (#6063161)
    Makes sense to me.

    Grand Theft Auto: "Shat! That cop's gonna catch me! I gotta pay attention!"

    Medal of Honor: "Shat! That nazi's gonna catch me! I gotta pay attention!"

    Tetris: "Shat! That block's gonna... fall... somewhere... Ehn, no big loss."
  • What else improves hand-eye coordination and tracking skills? Playing catch outside, perhaps?

    Huh? What's that? Tracking 5 objects at once, you say?

    Er, nevermind...

  • well... (Score:3, Funny)

    by edrugtrader ( 442064 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:11PM (#6063176) Homepage
    masturbating 3 times a day got rid of my carpal tunnel...
  • ...playing Tetris [] hasn't helped my test scores any!
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:13PM (#6063193)
    ...test subjects forced to play ten straight hours of Tetris exhibited twelve times the rate of violent activity seen in the control group.

  • by mrklin ( 608689 ) < minus poet> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:13PM (#6063194)
    It is very very small, white-on-white, 4pt text all the way down on page 76:

    University of Rochester would like to thank the following sponsors of the study: Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Rockstar Games and Electronic Art.

    (Please make check payable to Thomas H. Jackson, President, University of Rochester.)

    • Shoot, I do not want to be sued for libel either. So in case if anyone did not get it, it was suppose to be tongue-in-cheek!

      However, for all I know, the text could very well be in there but it most likely would not be small and white-on-white and would not have the "make check payable line". (If someone did read the actual study and found those lines, please let me know!) :)

      • I scanned past the white-on-white comment, and I didn't read the "make check payable" line as a part of the "quote" from the paper.

        So yeah, that's pretty funny. :) What's funnier is your moderation totals:

        50% Informative
        20% Insightful
        20% Funny

        So assuming the moderators are a representative sample, most people took you seriously. Still, sorry if my little flame ends up hurting your karma any. :(
    • Electronic Art.

      They only wanted to thank one of them?

    • You must play videogames.
    • by Lux ( 49200 )
      I have access to the full text through a site license as a student at a major research university, and not only can I not find that text, the article starts on page 534.

      On page 537: "Competing interests statement: The authors decleare that they have no competing financial interests."

      Mod this libelous garbage back to where it belongs.
  • by Cyno01 ( 573917 ) <> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:16PM (#6063219) Homepage
    I've been working on improving my hand eye coordination(it has many advantages beyond gaming). This probably sounds stupid, but i've been slowly increasing the gamespeed on Unreal Tournament. Once my stats go back up to what was my average level on 100% gamespeed i bump it up a few more percentages. I'm in the 150%s now, its crazy fast, but not as hard as you'd think.
  • by Buzz_Litebeer ( 539463 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:17PM (#6063228) Journal
    I had to track radar, what weapon i was on, ammo amounts, and what direction my top toros was facing!

    what did they say about mech games!

    oh man, I feel so left out.

    But on a more serious note. I think these games do increase twitch re-actions for people, to be even remotely good you have to be able to identify a things distance, and even slight variations on where it exists in space to determine if you are going to fire at it.

    Just taking medal of honor for example, many times on servers which force the skin type, it can be very hard to determine if someone is behind a wall because of the lack of contrast between default uniforms and the background.

    The ability to know how thick an object is can really help determine how abnormal its shape is versus what it should be.

    Anyone thats played these games a while, and has become familiar with where things are on there maps can almost run them backward. I used to play on a map called canalzone (the original for qwtf) that was "huge" and I could run it backward, or looking straight at the ground, as long as i knew where my start positon was. You need a good feel for how large the 3d space is relative to your character in the game to be able to do these kinds of things.

    Now on games where weapons have travel time in space, knowledge of 3d space is even more important, games such as mechwarrior 4, coupled with some lag, require to know the movement speed in space so you can lead the target. If you dont have any idea how they are going to change relative shape vs distance in space, you are much less likely to hit your target.

    so the hypothesis that games can affect how you determine things in 3d space seems completely plausible to me, because having "trained" people to play many 3d games myself ( ( search on wayback machine or google) I can tell you that the ability to have a good twitch instinct and judgment factors about objects in 3d space can really help.

  • How true.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by phreaknb ( 611492 ) *
    I had been playing quake3 for well over a year and my rail skills were pretty good. I went to camp for a month and took an elective called shooting sports. I got to shoot a shotgun for the first time in my life. My first time to ever shoot at moving targets. I was in a class with people who shot lots of guns, and I did the best :P
  • by Teckla ( 630646 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:18PM (#6063234)
    Teenage males that use the Internet regularly can identify pr0n actresses with 70% greater accuracy than teenage males that don't use the Internet regularly.

  • by isa-kuruption ( 317695 ) <> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:21PM (#6063261) Homepage

    regularly could track up to five objects at a time - 30% more than non-players.

    That's 3.5 objects for a non-player... hrmmm... I'd like to see that guy who only tracked half an object.

  • by DogIsMyCoprocessor ( 642655 ) <.dogismycoprocessor. .at.> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:24PM (#6063291) Homepage
    talking to real people improves social skills, and getting outside for a bike ride improves physical skills.
  • by brer_rabbit ( 195413 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:25PM (#6063293) Journal
    Sitting in front of a CRT all day playing games does wonders for your eyes. Those l33t visual skills aren't going to help when you can't see more than 10 feet in front of you. You're better off playing with yourself, at least going blind that way is an urban legend.
    • by sweeney37 ( 325921 ) * <mikesweeney AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:40PM (#6063417) Homepage Journal
      from []:

      Eyes and eyesight
      There's no evidence that working with display screen equipment is harmful to the eyes, nor that it makes visual problems worse, although a few people who have difficulties with their sight may become more aware of them. But working at a screen for a long time without a break can have effects similar to reading or writing uninterruptedly, and may make your eyes feel 'tired' or sore. You might find that it helps to look away from the screen from time to time and focus your eyes on a distant object.

    • You know, I've grown up hearing this, and I just dont believe it. I got my first computer when I was 8 (12 years ago). I used that SAME monitor for about 7 years. That was one seriously crappy monitor, and I sat in front of it very close for 8+ hours a day for those 7 years. My vision is still 20/10 (better than perfect, for those not in the know). Maybe if you sit with your face an inch away from the monitor, you'll have problems, but otherwise, I just dont believe it.
  • do video games make chicks dig you? The answer is hell no, unless they're nerdy as hell.
  • This seems logical to me! A lot of speed reading techniques helps you train your field of perception. I.e. normally you only "see" a word or two at a time... With the right techniques you can gradually increase the number of words you read at a time.
    Trained speed readers percieve whole lines at a time! I remember my former English teacher in high school read a third of a page in a glance - He read REALLY fast! :)

    Check out this google search []! Now go learn it!!
  • by FearUncertaintyDoubt ( 578295 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:31PM (#6063343)
    I've been juggling since I was about 12. I'm not an expert, but I've been working on juggling 5 balls for the last few years, and can do it reasonably well. 5 is much harder than 3, and takes very good rythm, vision, and reflexes -- you're tracking all those balls and trying to keep them moving in a very precise pattern.

    Because of this, my vision and reflexes are kind of sharp -- at least in a specific way. I've had many moments that remind me of the scene in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, where the older lady knocks over the cup to test the young girl's reflexes. She snatches the cup without thinking. I'm always catching things while they are being knocked over or grabbing things out of midair, just out of conditioning.

    However, I suck at a lot of other physical things, most sports, and am a bit of a klutz at times. It's kind of like working on your bicep over and over, but neglecting other things. You've got this unnaturally strong bicep but the rest is much weaker. And I don't juggle, thinking of how this is going to pay off in all these other ways. I just like to juggle.

    I'm pretty much just speculating, but I would suspect that playing a lot of video games gives you good visual skills that probably don't translate into a lot of other real-world stuff simply because the abilities that are developed are so narrow.

    Compare to a football quarterback (you see, Marge, there are jocks, and nerds. Being a jock...oh, sorry, I digress). As a QB, you have to track several receivers, the pass rushers, keep an eye on the game clock, and keep your wits under the very real-world threat of being flattened by some steroid-raging linebacker. Plus all the physical skills, and the playbook knowledge (no, it ain't the same as programming C++, but you don't have 300-lb Bubba bearing down on you while you are coding either). There's a much wider range of skill development there, that encompasses both the physical and mental. Not to say that there are not other ways to develop those things, but let's just say that if you gain any skills out of playing Quake 12 hours a day, be thankful.

  • ...but at what cost. You have the loss of social skills, not to mention they lower sexual skills. Does not seem like a fair trade off to me.
  • by frankmu ( 68782 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:36PM (#6063383) Homepage
    i tell my wife that's the reason for me buying games. helps keep my laparoscopic surgury skills honed.

  • Friends, ever heard of hand-eye coordination? It's just another way of saying "visual skills." Hand-eye coordination was first hyped in the 80s as a benefit of videogaming. Here [] is a USA Today article that makes mention of that "benefit." (BTW, I'm putting the word in quotation marks because I'm wondering how important it is to have good visual skills/hand-eye coordination. Does that benefit truly outweigh all the damn time we hard-core gamers waste?)
  • Surprising? (Score:5, Funny)

    by recordalator ( 263910 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:44PM (#6063431)
    So, um, those who spend more time training their perceptual systems to track and identify objects are better at tracking and identifying objects? Next thing you know, they'll start telling us that spending more time reading makes people better at reading...
  • by Cynikal ( 513328 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:47PM (#6063448) Homepage
    "young adults who played action games such as Grand Theft Auto [...] regularly could track up to five objects at a time"

    not only that, but these young adults were also 22% more successful at car jacking, 46% had better aim with lethal weapons, and 27% could on average outrun law enforcement officers.

    yay everybody wins
  • It helped me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msuzio ( 3104 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:59PM (#6063522) Homepage
    I know video games helped me. I was born with pretty bad eyes... astigmatism, near-sightedness, and a strong tendency to be cross-eyed. I was in glasses by the time I was three, and I had to wear *hideous* glasses in pre-school and 1st grade, with tape on the lenses to block my eyes from crossing inwards. I went for vision therapy for several years.
    The biggest thing they wanted was for me to get hand-eye coordination. I basically had none. The biggest exercise was a tennis ball on a tether. When they took it and swung it like a pendulum at my head, I literally could not bat it away before it bounced off me (sounds mean, but it was more like a game ). No change after three years of this.

    So my parents bought me an Atari 2600 somewhere around age 7. By the end of that summer, I had quite good hand-eye coordination (and had flipped the score on Defender a few times ). My mom was more than glad to let me play games endlessly after that :-). (*)

    (*) of course, I think 20 years later now, looking at a CRT screen all the time has probably degraded my vision back a bit too :-)
    • Heh (Score:3, Funny)

      by Faust7 ( 314817 )
      (*) of course, I think 20 years later now, looking at a CRT screen all the time has probably degraded my vision back a bit too :-)

      Indeed. My eyesight is now only called that out of habit. A normal person wearing my glasses can see through time.
  • then what is the benefit to having better visual skills? I'm not trying to be a troll, since I myself have wasted many years of my life playing video games and computer games. But let's look at it this way. Do a cost-benefit analysis of video games.

    - Boost in visual skills
    - Games teach problem-solving abilities, perseverance, pattern recognition, hypothesis testing, estimating skills, inductive skills, resource management, logistics, mapping, memory, quick thinking, and reasoned judgements. (

    • Driving is number one on my list. If you can track everything going on on all four sides of you by watching all mirrors and peripheral vision at once, you are going to be a lot safer... over the years I've avoided several rear-endings by other cars because I knew when I had to stop with any degree of quickness they would be right on top of me and got out of their way while they slid halfway through where my car would have been if I hadn't been paying attention.

      So not only tracking multiple objects, but un
  • oh so true so true (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Derg ( 557233 ) <> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:28PM (#6063820) Journal
    no I didnt rtfa, but I can attest to what I have gained from years of game playing. Playing quake and other fps's really tweaked my audio acuity many times over since I read somewhere soon after first getting quake 1, that a truely masterful player can tell where everything is in a room, just by listening. so I did that for a while, about 2 months, I would just listen and try to play through levels. It got very easy, and eventually I was able to beat it on normal skill without turning on my monitor. Nowadays, I can tell what someone is doing behind me or in the other room just from the sounds they generate.

    I hope I am not the only one who can attest to years of mudding having increased typing speeds and accuracy. when its a matter of life or death, you learn speedily to type accurately. when I started mudding back in the 7th grade, I was typing at like 15-20wpm /10 errors, now after nearly a decade of mudding, I type ~100wpm /2 errors. I will admit though, that some terms from my mudding days have seeped into my daily vocabulary; more than once I have said things like "let me check my eq" when I meant to imply "let me see if I have that" ... it gets scary...

    let us not forget the hours and hours that we gamers have wasted on mini-puzzles and macro-puzzles that are tossed into games so frequently these days. I know for a fact that those skills have come in handy for me in the form of increased logical problem identification speeds.

    I think I should shut up know, I have a feeling I am going to be modded into oblivion...

  • IIACP: Having read a few comments I'd just like to clarify a few things. I haven't read the paper itself, but from the summaries I've tried to work out what the findings are. In a way the main thrust of the paper seems to be being missed because of the headline grabbing video games element. Basically, from what I've read, the authors are claiming that game players (either from self-report or through training) perform better on tests of *visual selective attention*. Please note, this is not the same as sa
    • In other words, guess what? People who actively practice keeping track of multiple moving targets get better at keeping track of multiple moving targets.

      Guess what? Video games of a certain type often involve keeping track of multiple moving targets.

      I remember reading about a WW1 pilot who'd take a pencil, make a small mark on a large, otherwise blank wall, then read a book for a while. Then, suddenly, he'd turn, and try to find the dot on the wall as quickly as possible.

      As I recall, he had a very

  • by imhotep1 ( 674470 ) <(imhotep1) (at) (> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:40PM (#6063971)
    Apparently, the game type is important, as ten hours of the block-rotating game Tetris failed to improve test scores

    Tetris only has one important object on the screen at a time, I wonder how much visual object tracking would improve someone made a version of Tetris where you had to control two or more falling bricks at a time.

    This reminds me of when I began to study music theory, and started to listen to multiple instruments at the same time. Most people who listen to classical music, or any highly arranged music, can pick out and track multiple melodies, including subtle ones whose only purpose is to enhance the piece. Contrast that to most rock (or any popular music,) where there is one main melody, a bass line that hardly varies from the melody, and no complex vocal harmony.

    Most of my friends cannot listen to and enjoy complex music (other than as relaxing background noise.) The human mind adjusts too in environment, and if exposed to complex auditory stimuli, we learn to understand it quicker, and follow it with greater detail. If exposed to complex visual stimuli, we learn to parse it faster. This probably applies to all senses.

    The real question is, as games improve in areas such as 3d audio, will other senses besides visual spacial object tracking improve?

    • Dance Dance Revolution taught me how to pick up beats really quickly. Classical music let me pick out 'strings' of sound, even if it were people in big groups I could pick out one voice to listen to. Games that throw a lot at you at once like those shoot-em-ups let me track a bunch of different velocities/trajectories/objects at once. Games like Thief and Thief 2 with really good positional audio taught me to pick out where a sound is coming from with very good accuracy. However, that new Wario Ware gam
  • by rc5-ray ( 224544 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @11:12PM (#6064278)
    I've been playing video games since I bought my first Nintendo at age 12 (or so). I played Doom through college and Half-Life through medical school (I studied a little too ;-)

    As a resident, I'm learning to do endoscopic procedures, such as colonoscopy, upper GI endoscopy, and a few other procedures ending with -oscopy. Manual dexterity and coordination play a significant role in performing these procedures well. You can read the entire endoscope manual about which wheel looks left, right, up or down, and which button takes a picture. But, you've gotta get your hands on the scope and start driving to gain any proficiency.

    After my first day of endoscopy, I called my mom to tell her that all those hours spent in front of the Nintendo were now benefitting my career. She scoffed and said it was probably because I could play the piano. But, I remain convinced.

    Just my $0.02!
  • by vandelais ( 164490 ) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @11:29PM (#6064405)
    I can track lots of objects at once.
    The main drawback is that my ears only respond to two alternating pitches.

    Duh -duh
    Duh-duh ....
  • by forkboy ( 8644 ) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @02:05AM (#6065378) Homepage
    Researchers discover that television improves valuable looking skills. []
  • Just five objects? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sven Tuerpe ( 265795 ) <> on Thursday May 29, 2003 @04:29AM (#6065852) Homepage

    Learn tracking even more objects with [].

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle