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Students had to quickly identify the orientation of the middle "T" - Action game players could do it better - Image courtesy University of Rochester
Research says playing video games improves your bottom line on a standard eye chart

Video games that contain high levels of action can actually improve your vision, claim researchers at the University of Rochester. Their findings, which will appear in the journal Psychological Science, show that people who played action video games for a few hours a day over the course of a month improved by about 20 percent in their ability to identify letters presented in clutter—a visual acuity test similar to ones used in regular ophthalmology clinics.

 “Action video game play changes the way our brains process visual information,” says Daphne Bavelier, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. “After just 30 hours, players showed a substantial increase in the spatial resolution of their vision, meaning they could see figures like those on an eye chart more clearly, even when other symbols crowded in.”

Bavelier and graduate student Shawn Green tested college students who had played few, if any, video games in the last year. “That alone was pretty tough,” says Green. “Nearly everybody on a campus plays video games.”

At the outset, the students were given a crowding test, which measured how well they could discern the orientation of a “T” within a crowd of other distracting symbols—a sort of electronic eye chart. Students were then divided into two groups. The experimental group played Unreal Tournament for roughly one hour a day. The control group played Tetris, a game the researchers believe is equally demanding in terms of motor control, but visually less complex than the shooter.

After about a month of near-daily gaming, the Tetris players showed no improvement on the test, but the Unreal Tournament players could tell which way the “T” was pointing much more easily than they had just a month earlier.

“When people play action games, they're changing the brain's pathway responsible for visual processing,” says Bavelier. “These games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it. That learning carries over into other activities and possibly everyday life.”

The improvement was seen both in the part of the visual field where video game players typically play, but also beyond—the part of your vision beyond the monitor. The students' vision improved in the center and at the periphery where they had not been “trained.” That suggests that people with visual deficits, such as amblyopic patients, may also be able to gain an increase in their visual acuity with special rehabilitation software that reproduces an action game's need to identify objects very quickly.

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Yes but...
By Korr on 2/7/2007 9:42:29 AM , Rating: 5
It also lowers your grades by 20% ;)

RE: Yes but...
By therealnickdanger on 2/7/2007 9:57:05 AM , Rating: 4
My fondest videogame memory of all time is when me and three close friends spent all of finals week of our senior year playing Perfect Dark, GoldenEye, Vigilante8, and Wrestlemania 2000. Nothing but N64, Mountain Dew, and Jack's frozen pizzas. Study? Hell no.

RE: Yes but...
By GhandiInstinct on 2/7/2007 9:58:47 AM , Rating: 2
I've had my balls busted by parents earlier on in life thinking it'll RUIN, RUIN, that's right RUIN! Your eye sight...finally some tangible proof that I can nail it to my dad with.

RE: Yes but...
By GhandiInstinct on 2/7/2007 9:59:50 AM , Rating: 2
P.S., Yam, when will it appear in the journal????

RE: Yes but...
By JLL55 on 2/7/2007 10:03:55 AM , Rating: 2
Ah, but this one is only for an hour. I wonder if a follow up study would define a threshold (number of hours playing) for when your vision goes south, because it is known that staring at a computer screen for too long strains the eye.

RE: Yes but...
By ksherman on 2/7/2007 10:34:09 AM , Rating: 2
Well, if you think about it, staring at a TV is probably a bit easier on the eyes. Fonts are typically (if not always) larger and the fact that you are significantly further away from a TV than you are from a Computer Screen. Maybe that doesn't all make a difference, but sitting infront of a computer screen is more taxing on the eyes me thinks.

RE: Yes but...
By GaryJohnson on 2/7/2007 2:52:26 PM , Rating: 2
Sitting 1-foot from a 37"+ HDTV monitor to read Daily Tech can enhance the immersive-ness of the experience.

RE: Yes but...
By Mitch101 on 2/7/2007 10:51:50 AM , Rating: 2
Thats because people playing high action games tend not to blink which causes the eye to dry out.

RE: Yes but...
By rushfan2006 on 2/7/2007 11:23:31 AM , Rating: 5
Thats because people playing high action games tend not to blink which causes the eye to dry out.

Well you are half right. However it has little do with what you are doing on the computer, high action game, spreadsheets, writing emails -- your eye doesn't care about that. Its the length of time you spend at a computer w/o taking any kind of breaks. If you think I'm kidding or full of shit, re-state what I said here to a certified and respectable optometrist.

It is recommended that to avoid your ayes from drying out - you are "supposed" to take your eyes off the screen every 20-30 minutes and at that time you re-focus your eye on something...say even a dot on the wall or ceiling. Another suggestion, and this is all from literature at my doctor's are supposed to also every 30 minutes or so take some deep breathes - the claim here is that it ozygeniates the blood and some how or another this is good for your eyes.

RE: Yes but...
By Tyler 86 on 2/9/2007 2:41:34 PM , Rating: 2
No matter how much you do or don't blink, provided you blink at all, bad vision is by far more caused genetic or physical injury than stress injury.

Action game players don't have better eyesight because they play this crap, action game players have better perception because their brain has to kicks ass instead of stay calm and focused.

That's my opinion and argument, anyway.

RE: Yes but...
By kenji4life on 2/10/2007 3:44:13 PM , Rating: 2
Wait, doesn't everyone get a break at least twice every half an hour while playing games? Once to focus your visual acuity on grabbing another beer from the fridge, and once to test your eye coordination by taking a piss without missing the toilet?

RE: Yes but...
By sviola on 2/7/2007 1:13:56 PM , Rating: 2
That, and many people do not configure their monitors to work in a good refresh rate.

Try using 60 Hz for a while, then change to 75 Hz and 85 Hz, and you see the difference it'll make.

RE: Yes but...
By Tyler 86 on 2/9/2007 2:46:58 PM , Rating: 2
CRT & projector style monitors only on this one.

I tend to be able to notice a flicker up to and below 97 Hz (test image at 320x240 on a magical monitor that survives quick granular out-of-spec resolution changing thru powerstrip), at the magical number of 97 Hz it looks like an entirely solid flickerless image to me... but 75 Hz is comfortable, and 85 Hz is effortless.

I think it varies between people, but anyone training their eyes on a CRT at 60Hz is going to piss their eyes off.

Demand 85 Hz (CRT) or alternate monitor technologies (LCD) or better.

RE: Yes but...
By Justin Case on 2/7/2007 5:07:10 PM , Rating: 2
Care to point to any actual scientific studies that show that? Hint: there aren't any.

Looking at a computer screen is no different from looking at a piece of paper or at the world around you. A (CRT) screen with low refresh rates can cause headaches and trigger some nervous problems, and a screen with poor focus can cause eye strain. Neither of these problems happens with good monitors and neither of them has any permanent effect on your eyes. Both are more likely to happen with TV sets than computer monitors, BTW.

With the exception of strong ultraviolet light (and a couple of other types of radiation, none of which are emitted by monitors), simply looking at things will never damage your eyes.

RE: Yes but...
By Tyler 86 on 2/9/2007 2:48:54 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, exactly, props and stuff.

Hysteria over eye train has gone too far... not that there was very far for it to go in the first place, but somehow it managed to go there...

RE: Yes but...
By Scabies on 2/7/2007 10:07:49 AM , Rating: 2
I might have to go with the ruin thing. I'll tell you I have better situational awareness and notice small details in "reality" better thanks to games, but my crappy moniter has wreaked havoc on my eyes from a health standpoint these past few years.
...which is why newegg is delivering a new one this weekend

RE: Yes but...
By otispunkmeyer on 2/7/2007 11:06:24 AM , Rating: 2
i feel the same, reaction wise and hand eye co-ord wise i feel im pretty good. when driving i can notice all sorts of crap going on, im good at picking details etc.

but sitting infront of a monitor for ages, specially a CRT and my eyes are gettting worse....i need glasses to see at distances

RE: Yes but...
By Hyperlite on 2/7/2007 12:16:47 PM , Rating: 2
I had never thought to relate this to games, but it really makes sense...i do notice all kinds of things, and in general am just more aware of my surroundings than most people. people are always saying "WTF how did you notice that?" At least i am able to make the switch to LCD's at a young age(19)...and so far, i still have perfect vision (though i doubt that will last much longer).

RE: Yes but...
By Spivonious on 2/7/2007 1:22:13 PM , Rating: 2
A high quality CRT is actually better for text reading than an LCD, since the LCD has the "screen-door" effect and can break up letters.

Also, LCDs are typically brighter than CRTs, which also is bad for your eyes.

If you have perfect vision now, savor it and don't go into a field where you'll be staring at a screen all day. I have perfect vision (20/20 and 20/15) but since I started my programming job my eyes are almost always tired and have difficulty focusing on nearby things in less than perfect light. I talked to my doctor and he said it's eye fatigue so it's nothing physically wrong with me, but I should take frequent breaks during the day and look at something far away instead of the screen.

RE: Yes but...
By somerset on 2/8/2007 12:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
I always heard that too.

By therealnickdanger on 2/7/2007 10:15:19 AM , Rating: 4
I would think that if someone were required to go bird-watching for as often as these people played games, they would soon be able to identify more birds hidden in trees and such. Their vision doesn't necessarily improve, just their ability to do a certain visual task. But then, is that the essence of vision? Head asplode.

By GhandiInstinct on 2/7/2007 10:24:13 AM , Rating: 2
Not if you eat a lot of Vitamin A!

By Aikouka on 2/7/2007 11:18:47 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with you on this. I don't think this study reflects vision at all with the study's example that dailytech provided. Understanding the orientation of a 'T'? Please, that's not correlating to my vision! What they're processing is the response time between seeing the image and remarking on the orientation.

Just because I've played games for a good portion of my life doesn't mean I don't need my glasses to see normally (astigmatism = normal contacts make using a PC unbearable).

By Justin Case on 2/7/2007 5:10:20 PM , Rating: 2
Vision and eyesight are different things.

By Aikouka on 2/8/2007 9:46:54 AM , Rating: 3
Wrong, eyesight is a subset (part) of vision. Or else why would glasses be considered "vision correction" when all they do is adjust the angles at which light are refracted onto the sensory section in the back of the eye. I.e. all they do is affect your eye's ability to work properly.

To me, it still sounds like they're trying to bolster up the newsworthiness on this finding when I recall other studies finding the exact same thing (i.e. video games that require higher reaction time will improve the human's reaction time outside of the game).

By Justin Case on 2/8/2007 6:57:49 PM , Rating: 2
I like it how you say "wrong" and then proceed to prove my point (by saying that one thing is in fact just a subset of the other), all in the same sentence. Useful post.

By Tyler 86 on 2/12/2007 4:52:45 PM , Rating: 2
Wrong, vision is not merely eyesight, it's also mental perception. BOOM HEADSHOT!

Wow, what the f--, for the win.

Good game, good game.

By Justin Case on 2/7/2007 5:09:18 PM , Rating: 2
Vision is something your brain does. It's not limited to your eyes.

By kelmon on 2/7/2007 12:02:26 PM , Rating: 3
I'm sorry? Staring at a screen improves eyesight? This is one of the biggest loads of nonsense that I've heard in a while. If you stare at something close for long periods then you're going to get short-sighted. Been there, done that, need the laser surgery now.

Anyone who wants to suggest that playing games is good for you needs a smack around the head. They're entertainment that should be played in moderation since they carry bugger-all health benefits.

RE: Rubbish
By Scabies on 2/7/2007 12:15:41 PM , Rating: 3
I dont think the conclusion was correctly derived from the data. Their nearsight/farsight was probably affected negatively, but the study found the gamer-subject's ability to discern, not "see," improved.
They should have done a more thorough vision test.

Think about stupid drivers. Most can see fine, but arent really paying attention.

RE: Rubbish
By CascadingDarkness on 2/7/2007 12:49:58 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly what I was thinking. Next test should be driving tests with gamers/non-gamers. I've got 20/20 now, but even if my vision sucked and I could only see blurry shapes I would still notice and respond better than most drivers.

I seriously hope there are some good studies like this; I wouldn't mind a break on my car ins. for being a gamer. =)

RE: Rubbish
By Justin Case on 2/7/2007 5:17:34 PM , Rating: 2
> If you stare at something close for long periods
> then you're going to get short-sighted.

I've been staring at computer screens for the past 30 years, usually for 8 hours a day or more. I have perfect vision. I know lots of people who need glasses, and they don't spend nearly as long using computers (or looking at screens, or papers, or anything else) as I do.

So, care to provide any scientific data to back up your claim? The people responsible for this study did just that, so how is your "theory" (pulled out of thin air, or at most based on one case - yours) more valid than theirs?

Basically what you're saying is that any scientific results that disagree with your opinion are wrong and whoever found them needs to be "smacked around the head". Hey, how's that for short-sightedness?

RE: Rubbish
By atticu5 on 2/7/2007 7:12:24 PM , Rating: 2
absolutely right, just after reading this i showed it to my dad just so i could say "ha you're not entrirely right! videogames can be good" and he just turned around and basically denounced it because in his case staring at computer screens have made his eyesight bad.

it just showed me how truely short-sighted he is

RE: Rubbish
By Justin Case on 2/8/2007 7:04:09 PM , Rating: 2
Unless your father has a twin brother who sees perfectly, and the only difference between them is the fact that your father "stared at computer screens" and his brother didn't, that "example" is absolutely meaningless. My uncle has terrible eyesight, and he's a farmer. Surely that proves that staring at lettuces screws up your eyesight, no?

It's sad that some people can't understand how science works, but it's even sadder when they conclude that, since they can't understand it, it must be wrong.

I'll vouch for this
By NoSoftwarePatents on 2/7/2007 10:47:04 AM , Rating: 2
I am a 37 year old male who has never worn glasses/contacts of any kind-and likely won't be wearing them anytime soon. Both my parents, who think I have just been lucky and cannot accept the idea that video games may have health benefits, have worn glasses since age 25, and my little brother, who is 32, wears glasses. I am the only person in our nuclear family who has played video games most of my life (30 plus years). All of my grandparents, who have been dead for a long time, wore glasses...

RE: I'll vouch for this
By acekrn on 2/7/2007 11:48:45 AM , Rating: 3
i am a 19 year old male, it just means you got the recessive genes

RE: I'll vouch for this
By NoSoftwarePatents on 2/7/2007 11:50:34 AM , Rating: 2
Not necessarily.

RE: I'll vouch for this
By oTAL on 2/8/2007 3:12:45 PM , Rating: 2
Not necessarily... but I'd say it's beyond reasonable doubt...

RE: I'll vouch for this
By NoSoftwarePatents on 2/10/2007 10:35:20 PM , Rating: 1
Is it beyond a reasonable doubt that are you a medical doctor who specializes in such things?

Thought not.

What is MORE likely is that video games have kept my eyes in peak condition as the years, and decades have gone by-but I wouldn't go so far as to say my vision has IMPROVED unlike this article.

RE: I'll vouch for this
By Tyler 86 on 2/12/2007 4:57:53 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt videogames have kept your eyesight from going bad, it's more likely you got good genes. I got it on good word from a doctor.

This article may not be specificly talking about eyesight, but mental perception, recognition, reaction, that sort of thing...

the wow factor
By yankee bell on 2/7/2007 10:30:32 AM , Rating: 1
hey guys, if that what the researchers found out is true, then in the future, i bet, that my grandma and grandpa can improve their vision by 40%. rubbish if only they had tested on old persons with already reduced vision, i would have believe. they have tested on students that are young and still having developing cells. Crap experiment

RE: the wow factor
By nomagic on 2/7/2007 4:29:18 PM , Rating: 2
I cant believe you just posted that!

they have tested on students that are young and still having developing cells. Crap experiment

What cells of the visual system is still developing at the age of 20?

Oh my god, you are so smart! You just made a breakthrough in neuroscience. The professor who did this research should quit and let you have his job. I am going to nominate you for a Nobel Prize.

RE: the wow factor
By CrazyBernie on 2/8/2007 5:54:46 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, I'm 27, and my visual cells are still developing... into a veritable pile of goo, but hey.... ^_^

RE: the wow factor
By yankee bell on 2/10/2007 12:42:57 PM , Rating: 2
i am now sure that you have been born and grown in pile of goo - no surprise dude. that's because everyone was born from the womb of their mother and you unfortunately from your mother's a..

RE: the wow factor
By yankee bell on 2/10/2007 12:39:54 PM , Rating: 2
i think you nomagic was really born from the a.. of your mother. that's why your eyes are s..t like you.

By spwatkins on 2/7/2007 10:16:11 AM , Rating: 5
So if you alternate your masturbation to internet porn with video game playing, you should be able to maintain normal vision!

RE: Phew!
By bhieb on 2/7/2007 10:48:07 AM , Rating: 2
Damn you posted before me! That is exactly what I thought.

By Le Québécois on 2/7/2007 3:03:20 PM , Rating: 5
After about a month of near-daily gaming, the Tetris players showed no improvement on the test, but the Unreal Tournament players could tell which way the “T” was pointing much more easily than they had just a month earlier.

I thought Tetris IS pretty much about telling which way the T or L shaped blocks are pointing? You'd think that after one month of Tetris a person would be better for telling which way the T is pointing. That control groupe must have been composed of very BAD Tetris players...

RE: Tetris?
By oTAL on 2/8/2007 3:15:15 PM , Rating: 2
Dude! I so wish I could rate you up!
That was awesome ;)

P.S. I can't rate you up cause I posted on a comment, on this article, on something totally unrelated... I think we could use a little laxer rules on that Kris.... ;)

By gambit6259 on 2/7/2007 10:14:04 AM , Rating: 2
I am glad to see all that time in my youth playing the old "Kings Quest" and "Space Quest" games looking for 1 pixel sized items is paying off!

RE: Nice...
By Le Québécois on 2/7/2007 2:48:08 PM , Rating: 2
“Action video game play changes the way our brains process visual information,” says Daphne Bavelier, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.

I don't think those games could be qualify as action games. Even Tetris, which was the control group game's, has more action than those two(Kings Quest and Space Quest).

RE: Nice...
By CrazyBernie on 2/8/2007 3:45:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but my Playing Doom II via 28.8 modem on a 386 with the screen downsized about 3 times so it ran fast enough should qualify! :D Oh the gaming days of yore....

misleading title
By acekrn on 2/7/07, Rating: 0
RE: misleading title
By zerocool84 on 2/7/2007 4:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
Yea I know, my vision has actually gotten worse for the past 2 years ever since I started playing PC games more. I can't see at night at all and now I need glasses.

RE: misleading title
By Justin Case on 2/7/2007 5:20:59 PM , Rating: 2
That's what vision is. Vision and eyesight are different things. You can have the sharpest corneas west of Pecos, but if your brain can't process the information fast enough and accurately enough, your vision still sucks.

vision versus the supposed paranoia
By scrapsma54 on 2/7/2007 4:05:10 PM , Rating: 2
This clearly is a plus against the paranoia researchers are complaining about. I take it that soon Video games are going to become the new alcohol. I'm going to start getting more action games now by reading this. I need better vision.

By Scabies on 2/7/2007 4:26:36 PM , Rating: 2
when we talk about vision and you mention alcohol, all I can think about are beer goggles...
though, unless you are playing Tomb Raider, Dead or Alive, or something similar, a good amount of gaming just might make the rest of the female population (that you never get out and see) a little more attractive.

By RyanHirst on 2/7/2007 6:11:55 PM , Rating: 2
Someone was on the right track when he/she questioned the link between vision improvement and mental process.

If you read carefully, you will see that the ability to single out individual symbols "crowded" by other symbols improves-- i.e. the ability to more quickly resolve discrete visual symbols in close proximity, all of which are within the range of optical resolution.

If you (or these researchers) believe this has any bearing on the ability to improve optical focus on our own, you are mistaken. People vouch for things that are not true all the time. Aldous Huxley is probably the most famous adherent to the school of training eye muscles to improve vision.

None of that changes the fact that it is anatomically impossible:

Accomodation is the process by which the eye adjusts focal distance. Elementary anatomy will show you that this process (in humans) involves alteration of the shape of the lens. That is, the adjustment takes place within the eye. The notion that accomodation can be performed by changing the length of the eyeball itself, using muscles around the eye, is anatomically false. It is, however, true for fish.

No, you cannot improve your optical focus or resolution by any training process, including gaming. If you are wearing glasses, it is because there is an irregularity in the shape of your lens, and there is nothing you can do about it except redistribute the incoming light accordingly: glasses or contacts.

I understand there are a lot of people who are attached to Huxley's (rather, Dr. Bates') ideas, or to random chance ("I'm the only one in my family who doesn't wear glasses, and I do X every day"); that does not make the conclusions any less false. I'm not trying to start a flame war. But, folks, we can make eletron scans of large atoms to see their structure, and we can predict some quantum activities with accuracies upward of 8 decimal places. We're talking about basic anatomy here-- stuff you can verify with a few minutes of spare time with online human anatomy slides. Let it go.

By RyanHirst on 2/7/2007 6:16:50 PM , Rating: 2
... I should have added, "... or get surgery."

By nomagic on 2/7/2007 10:04:03 AM , Rating: 2
"Hey dude! Check it out, roomie! University of Rochester and Dailytech. We are on the news! Isn't that the funny research that you participated and got 10 bucks for? Oh, wait, lets forward the link to the professor..."

My conversation with my roommate...

It's true
By estaffer on 2/7/2007 12:30:35 PM , Rating: 2
heck, if i can see that dark templar right away without true sight then that should be something. somehow, certain video games can be used as training for your eyes. hehe

old monitors are bad for the eyes though.

I can see it now
By lufoxe on 2/7/2007 2:40:23 PM , Rating: 2
UT 2007:
Have fun and improve your eyesight*

*Eyesight only improves while playing one hour day. Please consult your doctor if you have diminishing eyesight. Do not play in dark rooms... (etc...)

Further testing should be done
By cheetah2k on 2/7/2007 8:29:32 PM , Rating: 2
I feel from my experience, that playing BF2 and 2142 has greatly improved my skills while playing Airsoft (here in Hong Kong). We play mostly in very dense jungle; spotting your highly camoflauged opponent is of great importance. I am considered a sniper in my team as I can spot very easily.

While the test showed improvement in objectual awareness, the damaging effects should also be studied/analysed as I'm sure it doesnt help you if you're short/long sighted.

I think that games such as these also greatly enhance your sensitivity to sounds, movement, spatial awareness, etc. I would be interested to see if these type of games help hearing as much as eyesight! From my experience, this is definately a yes.

By AncientPC on 2/8/2007 12:22:30 AM , Rating: 2
I found the PDF at the bottom of Vol 18 #1 ( ), Action-Video-Game Experience Alters the Spatial Resolution of Vision: but I need membership to view the PDF.

By Spartan Niner on 2/13/2007 7:26:01 PM , Rating: 2
Sure my visual recognition may be better, but playing Day of Defeat instead of studying is sure to hurt the bottom line somewhere ;)

"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot

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