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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: It's a trade-off
By TSS on 9/15/2010 4:22:20 PM , Rating: 3
Actually you would find the opposite. If you want to abbrevate a word in the thick of battle, you need to know what that abbrevation stands for in the first place. Otherwise, you're only talking fast, not making sense.

Also politeness stays the same, it may even increase. As shown by the simple "gg" at the end of rounds. For the non-gamers amongst us, this stands for "Good Game", and any true gamer will say this at the end of a good game. While "gg" by default is ment towards all who participated in a round, "bg" or bad game usually is ment for the person who said it only, as in, "i've played a bad game". Why not type it in full? Because the end of rounds, before a new round starts, often only lasts a few seconds. During rounds we may be mortal enemies, but as soon as that round ends in a loss or victory, where all friends again. And reminisce in a very friendly atmosphere.

But be clear on what is, and what is not, a gamer! The people i talk about are the so called "hardcore gamers". The people you think about are probably the Moden Warfare 2 generation. And any respectable gamer will not have bought that game (the lack of dedicated servers is to blame here). Casual gamers aren't included in the above analysis, but they also do not benefit from the fast decision making gaming has to offer - you need to play long term for the effects to stick.

And in case you want to point out the errors in my spelling, english isn't my first language and the spellingschecker is stuck on "dutch" so none of my posts ever made have been checked for spelling :)

RE: It's a trade-off
By smackababy on 9/15/2010 4:50:28 PM , Rating: 2
There are many decisions that have to be made on the fly in all kinds of competitive games. Fighting games are particularly thought intensive. Not only do you need to memorize the moves, but to be good you have to learn the frames of moves, when to do moves, how to read opponents moves, and make effective attacks / defensive actions at the precise times.

The casual gamer gets overwhelmed by the amount of thinking that must take place near instantly in order to keep up with those who play at that higher level.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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