Video Games May Boost Surgeons' Skill
Surgeons Who Play Video Games May Be Better at Video-Assisted Surgery
Feb. 21, 2007 -- Playing video games may make for sharper surgeons, a new
The study shows that surgeons who have a history of playing video games for
more than three hours per week may be faster and more accurate in certain
video-assisted surgery training tests than surgeons who have never played video
"These were surprising results," says Iowa State University's
Douglas Gentile, PhD, in a news release.
Gentile and colleagues conducted the study, which appears in the Archives
The study doesn't support overindulging in video games.
"Parents should not see this study as beneficial if their child is
playing video games for over an hour a day," Gentile says. "Spending
that much time playing video games is not going to help their child's chances
of getting into medical school."
Gentile's team studied 33 surgeons, including 21 surgical residents, who are
relatively new doctors getting postgraduate training.
The surgeons attended a 1.5-day workshop in laparoscopic surgery, which uses
video technology to help doctors operate through a small incision.
The surgeons weren't total novices at laparoscopic surgery. The residents
had done an average of 46 laparoscopic surgeries, compared with an average of
236 laparoscopic surgeries done by the more experienced doctors.
The surgeons completed questionnaires about their video game use.
More than half of the surgeons -- 58% -- reported playing video games at
some point in their lives. They had played for nearly eight years, on
Among the video game players, nearly half reported playing video games for
at least three hours weekly at the height of their game-playing days.
During the laparoscopy workshop, the surgeons took various tests (none of
which involved patients) to gauge their laparoscopy surgery speed and
The surgeons with a history of playing video games for more than three hours
per week were the fastest and most accurate on the laparoscopy surgery
Those doctors "made 37% fewer errors, were 27% faster, and scored 42%
better overall than surgeons who never played video games," write the
The researchers asked the surgeons to play one of three video games for 25
minutes before the workshop ended.
Those games were Super Monkey Ball 2, in which players are timed
while piloting a ball through a constantly changing course; Star Warts Racer
Revenge, in which players race against others through a winding canyon; and
Silent Scope, in which players shoot as many targets as possible in 2.5
The top scorers in each of those games made 47% fewer errors, performed 39%
faster, and scored 41% better overall in their laparoscopy tests, the study