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Games Science

Video Games Lead To Quick Thinking Skills 174

shmG writes "Parents who dismiss video games as mindless entertainment with no intrinsic value for their children may not have a leg to stand on anymore thanks to science. Cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester have proven action based video games train people to make quick, accurate decisions. These skills acquired from video games, which help players develop a heightened sensitivity to their surroundings, can be used in real world applications. This includes multitasking, driving, reading small print, keeping track of friends in a crowd, and navigating around town."
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Video Games Lead To Quick Thinking Skills

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  • by thePowerOfGrayskull ( 905905 ) <.marc.paradise. .at.> on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @06:03PM (#33581048) Homepage Journal
    Want to drive better? Learn to ride a motorcycle.

    Seriously - nothing makes you more aware of *all* of your surroundings quite like having no defenses save your wits and reflexes. The idea of who would be "at fault" in an accident quickly becomes irrelevant, because you understand viscerally that it really doesn't matter in the end [if you value your life, anyway].

    Those metal and fiber shells we lumber along in make us very complacent. The skills you learn from being exposed on a motorcycle will result in an immediate improvement in how you drive a car as well. And you'll find yourself wondering how [relatively] oblivious you were before that -- even those of you who are more aware of your surrounding than most.

    Here's a quick test you can give yourself - do you look ahead to where you're going when you make a turn, or do you keep your primary focus parallel with your hood? Most people do the latter until they learn to ride, effectively preventing them from truly seeing potentially critical information in the path ahead -- if you don't believe me, just observe a few people doing it.

    (I'd also recommend the standard motorcycle safety course - invaluable even if you have experience.)

  • I've had some of the same 'benefits' from riding a bicycle.

    You constantly have to be on the alert for people who will negligently mow you down.

    To this day, I react to lights about 20% faster than most others--I anticipate the light some by noticing the status of the opposing lights, while also being more aware of cross-traffic, and I often arrange to show up at the light just as it turns green so I don't have to fully stop. (Having to fully stop on a bicycle is a big bummer, you lose ALL your hard-won kinetic energy.)


  • by Gastrobot ( 998966 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:35AM (#33583312)
    This study seems presumptuous.

    1) My wife, a statistician, gets irritated when studies say that they have proven things. When trying to draw conclusions from data you always run the risk that your data is not indicative of reality. You get around this with large sample sizes and by receiving data that points to the same trends on repeated studies. This study has a small sample size, 26 people total, and has no mention of repeated results.
    2) The friendly article claims that the study has "proven" that action games train people to respond quickly and accurately. The article is overstepping the study in that the conclusion of the study was that people who play action games had the same level of accuracy as those who played The Sims II. The article should have said "quickly without losing accuracy".
    3) The author of the study claimed that "People who play these action games make informed, better decisions than those who don't". The study only compared people playing two FPSs to people playing The Sims II. There is no mention of a control group that did not play any video game. The conclusion needs to be a bit more humble and only make statements between people who play FPSs and people who play ... whatever narrow genre The Sims II falls into.

    I frequently enjoy Alien Swarm. I played Portal and my wife and I are slowly meandering our way through Uru. I used to be hooked on Starcraft, Myth II, Myth, Master of Orion II, and others. I believe that these games have shaped my neurological development and given me advantages in problem solving, strategy, coping with unexpected setbacks, and more. I also believe that they've cost me in self-discipline, my attention span, humanity (desensitization to violence and beyond that enjoyment of violence). My point is that I want the conclusions of this study to be true to give some legitimacy to what is otherwise an unproductive diversion but the study feels a little shoddy.
  • by erice ( 13380 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:49AM (#33583582) Homepage

    Fast, low complexity decisions is what machines do well. Is it really productive to train our brains to do what machines already do better? Would it not be better to train our brains to generate the deeper insight that, so far anyway, computers have been unable to provide?

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.