I recently came across an article on Digg.com that was about a study the University of Rochester performed on whether or not racing video games made people better real-world drivers. My initial gut reaction was yes, I think they would. If flight simulators work for the military, why wouldn’t racing video games work for civilian drivers?
I’m not much of a video game type of person, but I was at one time the proud owner of one of the original Nintendo game systems where I achieved mad skillz using a plastic laser beam gun attached to a cord playing Duck Hunt. And I liked Tetris, too. I used to sit for hours and hours and play until my thumbs were sore and my eyes were dizzy. Other than those two games, I think Mah Jongg is my favorite of all time. But Mah Jongg doesn’t require instant reaction unless you’re timing yourself to see how fast you can match the tiles and win the game.
The university study suggested that playing fast-action video games is analogus to real-world situations like driving a vehicle because instant reactions, both mental and physical, were required. The study’s author, Daphne Bavalier, tested 18-25 year-olds and found that half of the participants were able to make instantaneous decisions and answer questions 25% faster than the slower gaming participants she tested. But what was unusual to me was that the faster gamers’ accuracy was pretty much the same as the slower gamers’ accuracy.
My conclusion? If the study is correct and it’s true that playing driving or racing video games improves your real-life road skills, I think if I were headed for an accident, I’d want to be one of the faster gamer-type people. In that type of a situation, the only thing that would matter would be how fast I could get out of it.
What was your favorite video game of all time while you were growing up? Did you play a lot of racing or driving games? Do you agree with the study? Why or why not?