Researchers have found that gaming improves visual skills, and pretty quickly at that.
If you like that, what you’ll like even more is that it’s the violent games like Grand Theft Auto and Medal of Honor that hone your skills, not the nicey-nice ones like Tetris.
A few quotes:
“Game-players react to fast-moving objects more efficiently, explains Bavelier, and can track up to five objects at a time – 30% more than non-players. “They can process more information more quickly over time,” she says.”
“Improvements came with “the least socially desirable games”, Wolfe points out – those in which shooting and killing is commonplace. The fact that you are defending your own life in these games may be what makes their lessons stick, Wolfe speculates.”
“These skills might help people to drive more safely . . . . [V]isually impaired stroke patients or people recovering from cataract surgery might benefit from playing similar games.”
The politically-correct people aren’t going to like this one bit. No doubt the cry will come out, “We must come out with non-violent alternatives to these games.”
When you think about it a bit, though, this is going to be very hard to do. The game activity that helps is inherently aggressive. Just what kind, gentle act can Big Bird do that’s the equivalent of being shot at, or having a car crash into you? If the action is kind, why do you have to duck it?
I suppose you could have a game in which you can’t retaliate, but that’s not non-violence. That’s masochism. If you want an environment with lots of aggression with no prospect of retaliation, you don’t need a video game. You just need to get stuck in traffic, and I have never heard of anyone who ever went looking for that for its therapeutic benefits.
Nursing Home Ninjas
When I read the article, I had this vision of people in rehabilitation and nursing homes all playing GTA and Medal of Honor.
That might be a good idea.
Just what do violent video games do anyway? They provide much of the satisfaction of action/violence without any of the consequences.
If you’re psychotic, that’s not good, but then, what is? If you’re out of touch with reality, that’s the problem, not the video game.
However, if you’re not, that’s not bad. If you have pent-up rage from the indignities of daily life, what’s better, taking it out on pixels or people?
Video games give people a freedom to act often not available in the real world, and can provide a sense of accomplishment, virtual as it may be.
If you are debilitated for one reason or another, you don’t have much control over your life. This can be very frustrating, and anything which allows otherwise normal people to relieve that frustration should be looked into.
If researchers want to do some studies, I think it would be very enlightening to see if people who play violent video games, whether young or old, are more or less likely to be violent/aggressive than those who don’t.
My suspicion is that it would be less, for both. The real crazies would still be crazy, but for most, it probably would have a calming effect in real life.