Real Scientists: ‘Action’ games sharpen decision making skills, make better surgeons & soldiers

Instead of wondering about your doctor’s credentials or track record, maybe next time you’re about to go under the knife, you should inquire after his or her stats on Call of Duty.

Yes, it turns out that “action games” seem to produce skills that are later applicable in important, scary tasks like being a soldier or being a surgeon. The skills you hone taking out zombies or hookers on your gaming console not only boost ability to perform certain tasks, they also seem to enhance your ability to do so quickly and accurately:

“It’s not the case that the action game players are trigger-happy and less accurate: They are just as accurate and also faster,” says cognitive researcher Daphne Bavelier. “Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time. If you are a surgeon or you are in the middle of a battlefield, that can make all the difference.”

In order to prove their case, researchers had half a group of study participants play The Sims 2, while the other half played Call of Duty 2 or Unreal Tournament. After 50 hours of play (consecutively?) subjects performed some computer tasks. Accuracy for both groups remained the same, but the Call of Duty 2/Unreal Tournament players were 25% quicker.

Authors of the study concluded that action gamers process “visual and auditory data more efficiently than non-gamers,” and that those skills could transfer efficiently to real life tasks like driving, shooting people and removing organs.

[Image: XKCD]