Print 16 comment(s) - last by frozentundra12.. on Feb 5 at 11:52 AM

Action games like "Call of Duty 2" can help people make decisions faster without compromising accuracy

According to University of Rochester scientists, certain video games can help people make decisions faster without compromising accuracy. 

University of Rochester cognitive scientists Daphne Bavelier, C. Shawn Green, and Alexandre Pouget have conducted a study showing that video games can aid in quicker decision-making in humans. 

A 2009 report by the Entertainment Software Association said that approximately 68 percent of American households contain people who play video games. This number may outrage those who believe that video games make people lazy, and is a useless hobby that doesn't intellectually stimulate those who play them. But now, scientists at the University of Rochester are saying otherwise. 

Bavelier, Green and Pouget have conducted a study where the test subjects were "dozens" of people ranging from 18-to 25-years-old and who were not video game players. The subjects were split into two groups where one played 50 hours of "Call of Duty 2" and "Unreal Tournament" while the other group played 50 hours of "The Sims 2." "Call of Duty 2" and "Unreal Tournament" are fast-paced games requiring strategy and quick decision-making while "The Sims 2" is slow-moving and does not require a lot of quick decisions. 

After their gaming experience, the test subjects were asked to look at a screen and make quick decisions regarding the various tasks occurring on that screen. An example of the visual tasks was watching a set of dots move about the screen erratically, then noting if they having been moving to the right or to the left on average. Other tasks included auditory tests as well.  

The researchers concluded that the group who played "Call of Duty 2" and "Unreal Tournament" were 25 percent faster at making these decisions than the group who played "The Sims 2." Also, the first group was able to accurately answer as many questions as the second slower group. 

According to the University of Rochester scientists, this shows that video games with fast-paced, strategic themes help gamers continuously calculate and refine probabilities in their minds, leading to quick decision-making. The process is called probabilistic inference, where the brain gathers small pieces of auditory or visual information while the person is observing a specific area. Once enough information is gathered, the brain can make a decision. With action video games, people are putting this process to use continuously and on a regular basis, helping them make faster decisions that are just as accurate as those who take longer to make a decision. 

"It's not the case that the action game players are trigger-happy and less accurate: They are just as accurate and also faster," said 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." 

This study was published in Current Biology

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By SSDMaster on 2/4/2011 8:47:05 AM , Rating: 5
In unrelated news, training for the olympics improves muscle tone.

They should have given them real world tests. Not saying they haven't found something, but they can't directly relate this to real world results with video game type tests.

RE: Unrelated
By ipay on 2/4/2011 11:10:49 AM , Rating: 3
UPDATE: More details on this study...
The data shows that players from the first group (CoD & UT) decided to stop playing Sims 2, in one of the tests, immediately after starting it, clearly indicating a fast and good decision.

In another unrelated news, a study shows that living in a fast pace city tends to make one fast-paced, although surprisingly, it appears that this has long term effects like stress-related ills.

RE: Unrelated
By UNHchabo on 2/4/2011 4:46:35 PM , Rating: 3
You could also take this study as proving that The Sims 2 makes you slower at making decisions. The real problem is that from the sounds of it, they didn't have a control group.

RE: Unrelated
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 2/4/11, Rating: 0
By smackababy on 2/4/2011 9:26:43 AM , Rating: 3
Now if it could just improve social skills, we'd be much better off. I get tired of hearing the same tired racial slurs online day after day.

RE: and
By AssBall on 2/4/2011 11:32:28 AM , Rating: 5
We clearly need new racial slurs.

RE: and
By Smilin on 2/4/2011 3:28:14 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah. I learned a lot about the things my mom does online. Learned I'm gay too apparently. Man will my wife be surprised!

Oh and apparently I'm a slave.

Bad Choice of games for Comparison
By theArchMichael on 2/4/2011 9:48:43 AM , Rating: 2
I think they might want to expand this research to include turn based and real time strategy games.
Civilization V and StarCraft perhaps... I presume they require more careful analysis of events taking place in the game than in a FPS and in a RTS there reaction time is secondary to calculation.

The Sims is very laid back game and typically the decisions you make either slightly speed up or slow down your "success", but there are multiple indices for success in a game like this so you really can't 'win' in the traditional sense I think.

By AlphaVirus on 2/4/2011 10:56:06 AM , Rating: 2
Correct, do they honestly think using Call of Duty vs The Sims was the best comparison? There really should've been a much wider range of genres such as RTS, RPG, FPS, etc because every genre provides different skill sets. Since the test subjects weren't gamers they probably felt CoD and Sims were the easiest to learn. If a non-gamer was asked to play StarCraft, SimCity, or Final Fantasy, they would quickly become discouraged.

I do agree with this article because I find that in the real world people who play video games are able to complete general tasks quicker, more accurate, and more efficient than their non-gaming counterparts.

By ShaolinSoccer on 2/4/2011 3:22:30 PM , Rating: 2
Except a FPS can be RTS when competing in leagues.

Decisions, Decisions
By DaveLessnau on 2/4/2011 9:00:02 AM , Rating: 2
I saw a similar story a couple of months ago and said, "That's what I need." The trouble is, I can't decide which game to play. :)

RE: Decisions, Decisions
By Smilin on 2/4/2011 3:29:13 PM , Rating: 2
Oregon Trail FTW!

By Beenthere on 2/4/2011 4:57:35 PM , Rating: 4
Fast is nice but better decisions are what most folks need to make.

And its time for the reruns...
By iceonfire1 on 2/4/2011 6:05:08 PM , Rating: 2
This is *not* news; the research is neither fundamental, surprising, or necessary as confirmation to earlier research.

Link to previous article on Dailytech:

Link to older, very similar research paper:

By chromal on 2/4/2011 8:37:24 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like us face-based FPS gamers deserve a driver's insurance discount. :) Interesting study, though one should resist drawing too many conclusions from it, it seems kind of common sense that people who are measured on snap judgments/actions will do them quicker after drilling for 50 hours in a FPS game vs a control group that doesn't. What I'd wonder is if this conclusion is something specific to video gaming, or could be valid just based on practice with certain types of cognitive tasks without the gaming element.

By frozentundra123456 on 2/5/2011 11:52:52 AM , Rating: 2
Actually,the group that played the Sims was just still recovering from the mind-numbing boredom.
And serioulsy, as someone else posted, they did need a control group that played no games at all.

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