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They help train the brain in making quick, accurate decisions, study suggests.


Contrary to popular belief, playing video games is a not waste of time.  Video game players may actually be better thinkers than most.  Video games force gamers to be fast on their feet.  Action-games in particular encourage players to better use evidence drawn from their senses in decision-making. 

According to 
Business Week and WebMD a new study in the Current Biology journal suggests that video game play helps gamers develop a skill known as "probabilistic inference", which refers to how we process the information we have when we need to make a snap decision.

Video game players absorb information quickly and make sound snap decisions, the research indicates.

"They are making more efficient use of the information that is out there," said C. Shawn Green, postdoctoral associate at the Kersten Computational Vision Lab at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the study.  

"Video game players pull more information from the sensory world, related to the decisions facing them."

The research suggests that this skill only applied to action games, specifically "shooter games" like
Halo. Strategy and role-playing games, did not have the same impact.

"The games are teaching them to learn how to learn, to learn how to solve new tasks rapidly," Green said.

The researchers tested two groups for a total of 50 hours.  One group spent 50 hours playing a strategy game while the other group played a shooter game. The subjects who played action video games were faster, yet just as accurate as the subjects who played strategy or role-playing games for the same duration of time.

Green said these video games are teaching people to become better at taking sensory data in, and translating it into correct decisions. 

"There is always some uncertainty about what is going on. Our eyes don’t take in everything and our ears don't either, so you take the sensory data that you have, and make a decision based on the probability of being right," said Green.

According to Ian Spence, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, the new findings are consistent with previous studies. 

"Perceptual functions are the various brain functions involved in seeing, hearing, smelling," stated Spence.

Spence added that in the future, researchers may be able to offer guidelines for game design that would retain the perceptual training features of first-person shooter games, without the violence that discourages some people from playing them.

The study suggests real-world applications for this research in the future. 

The U.S. armed forces has used video games for military training in the past.


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RE: Well yeah, when you train you aquire skills
By TSS on 9/15/2010 2:51:18 PM , Rating: 3
The difference isn't in making fast decisions, the difference is in the number of fast decisions.

I've spend my childhood playing games, shooters mostly. I've also done real life paintball for a while. The difference between the 2 is simple. If i get shot during paintball, i'll have to get off the battlefield and wait till everybody is done. Which can take up to 30 minutes if you're the first off the field. If i get shot in say, Bad Company 2, there's a 15 second respawn timer before i can try and wage war again.

If i crash in a racing game, i restart the map. If i crash racing in real life... well it'll depend on the time i have to spend in hospital before i can go at it again.

Also shooters train your reaction time. At the peak of my capabilities, i've tested my reaction time as beeing 0.075 seconds. I did that 3 times in a row, so it wasn't just a fluke. The average reaction time is 0.2 seconds.

The reason why gamers aren't just fast, but effective too, is simply because it's not about pulling the trigger as fast as you can. The simplest example is when your assaulting and somebody walks around the corner right infront of you.

First you have to determine if it's an enemy or not, as shooting friendlies costs points. Then you have to determine if there is an higher priority target, aka somebody who has already seen/is expecting you. Then you need to know if there are additional targets that will hear you fire. All the while you have to track, but not fire, you're target with your gun. This all determines 1 thing: Am i going to shoot, or am i going to take cover?

And this needs to be determined as fast as possible. Because i'll determine all that in 0.075 seconds. And i do mean determine, because you can also use a scare reflex, which'll half your reaction time but simplify the above to "just shoot". Which'll cost points if it is indeed a friendly infront of you. Which i've also shot plenty of times, but because it's a game i won't go to jail, i'll simply lose 1 kill worth of points.

This is why games are extremely effective at training you in decision making, because that's all you're doing the entire time. And making the right decisions rewards you with beeing ontop of the list and beeing able to say, "In your face nubbies!".

But it has a price. You can switch off the game, but you cannot switch off your mind. In the time you make 1 decision, i'll have made 3. So if i'm with *anybody*, i'll have made the decision for them before they even know they have to make a decision. So to actually wait for them to make it, is hell every time.

If that sounds vague, just imagine going shopping with your girlfriend, then imagine beeing 3 times faster with your own decisions then you currently are. Needless to say, i never go shopping.

By WW102 on 9/16/2010 1:30:29 PM , Rating: 1
And this needs to be determined as fast as possible. Because i'll determine all that in 0.075 seconds.


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