Real-Life Benefit of Video Games
Video Games May Improve Visual Skills, Researchers Say
Dec. 22, 2009 -- Regular video game users learn to process information
faster and more accurately when they’re playing in virtual worlds and in
real-life situations, a new study says.
Researchers say they found that avid players get faster in their games of
choice, and also in unrelated laboratory tests of reaction time.
The study is published in the December issue of Current Directions in
Matthew Dye, PhD now of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and
formerly at the University of Rochester, and colleagues say they reviewed
existing literature on video gaming and found some surprising insights.
For example, they say they found that contrary to conventional wisdom that
avid gamers become less accurate as their speed of play increases, players
don’t lose accuracy and they get faster.
They say this likely is a result of gamers’ improving visual cognition with
repeated playing of games.
Playing video games enhances performance on mental rotation skills, visual
and spatial memory, and tasks requiring divided attention, say the researchers,
including Shawn Green, PhD, now a post-doctoral associate at the University of
Minnesota, and Daphne Bavelier, PhD, in the department of brain and cognitive
sciences at Rochester.
Other reported insights - that training with video games may serve to reduce
gender differences in visual and spatial processing and thwart some of the
cognitive declines that come with aging.
“In many everyday situations, speed is of the essence,” the authors write.
“However, fast decisions typically mean more mistakes.”
After reviewing existing literature on gaming, they conclude that there is
evidence that “the very act of playing action video games” increases speed of
play and accuracy.
“Video gaming may therefore provide an efficient training regimen to induce
a general speeding of perceptual reaction times without decreases in accuracy
of performance,” the authors say.
As the gamers got faster, they maintained their accuracy in lab testing of
reaction times, the authors say.
Contemporary examples of games mentioned in the study include God of War,
Halo, Unreal Tournament, Grand Theft Auto, and Call of Duty, all of which
require “rapid processing of sensory information and prompt action, forcing
players to [make] decisions and execute responses at a far greater pace than is
typical in everyday life.”
They say more studies of speed and accuracy on video games “will certainly
be promising avenue of research” in the future.