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View Full Version : Playing TS2 Makes Us Smarter: NY Times



e_mcgoey
29th May 2003, 14:16
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/29/science/29VIDE.html

Video-Game Killing Builds Visual Skills, Researchers Report
By SANDRA BLAKESLEE


And now, the news that every parent dreads. Researchers are reporting today that first-person-shooter video games — the kind that require players to kill or maim enemies or monsters that pop out of nowhere — sharply improve visual attention skills.

Experienced players of these games are 30 percent to 50 percent better than nonplayers at taking in everything that happens around them, according to the research, which appears today in the journal Nature. They identify objects in their peripheral vision, perceiving numerous objects without having to count them, switch attention rapidly and track many items at once.

Nor are players simply faster at these tasks, said Dr. Daphne Bavelier, an associate professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Rochester, who led the study. First-person action games increase the brain's capacity to spread attention over a wide range of events. Other types of action games, including those that focus on strategy or role playing, do not produce the same effect.

While some researchers have suggested possible links between video games and other abilities, this study is thought to be the first to explore their effects on visual skills. Though the number of subjects was small, Dr. Bavelier said, the effects were too large to be a result of chance.

"We were really surprised," Dr. Bavelier said, adding that as little as 10 hours of play substantially increased visual skills among novice players. "You get better at a lot of things, not just the game," she said.

But Dr. Bavelier emphasized that the improved visual attention skills did not translate to reading, writing and mathematics. Nor is it clear that they lead to higher I.Q. scores, although visual attention and reaction time are important components of many standardized tests.

"Please, keep doing your homework," said Dr. Bavelier, the mother of 6-year-old twins and a 2-year-old.

Dr. Jeremy Wolfe, the director of the Visual Attention Laboratory at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the study, said he was intrigued at the idea that "socially dubious games might improve something like general intelligence."

"It might give every 14-year-old something to tell his parents," Dr. Wolfe said. " `Hey, don't make me study. Give me another grenade.' "

Still, he noted that an increased capacity for visual attention was helpful in tasks as diverse as flying, driving, radiology and airport screening.

Dr. Bavelier is an expert on how experience changes the brain, particularly the effects of congenital deafness on visual skills and attention. A few years ago, a Rochester student, Shawn Green, asked to work on a senior project in her laboratory. They agreed that he would help design visual attention tasks for the deaf.

But when Mr. Green tried out the tests, he found they were ridiculously easy, Dr. Bavelier said. So did his friends, who were all devoted to video games.

The professor and her student decided to study the connection between video game playing and visual attention. They carried out four experiments on undergraduates, all of them male because no female shooter game fans could be found on campus.

The first tested the ability to localize targets in a cluttered environment and spread visual attention over a wide area — a skill that many elderly drivers lose. Gamers performed at least 50 percent better than nongamers, Dr. Bavelier said.

The second involved the ability to say, instantly, how many objects were flashed on a screen. Most people can do this with up to four objects, Dr. Bavelier said. Above that, they start counting. Gamers could identify up to 10 items on a screen without counting.

The other two experiments tested the players' ability to process fast-occurring visual information and to switch attention. Again, players were far superior to nonplayers.

A fifth experiment trained nonplayers, including some women, for 10 consecutive days on one of two video games — either Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, a first-person-shooter game that simulates World War II combat situations, or the slower-moving puzzle game Tetris. Only the shooter game improved visual attention, Dr. Bavelier said, and it did so in both sexes. Among novices, the effects waned within a couple of months, but superior visual attention skills seemed firmly rooted in game addicts.

Dr. Bavelier said the next step would be to tease the games apart to find out what aspects promoted brain changes. Are violence and danger necessary? Does this sort of brain plasticity change with age? Will it affect certain measures of intelligence?

Meanwhile, she said, the military is already exploiting action games to train special forces.

"To enter territory you've never seen and detect where your enemies are," she went on, "you need an accurate understanding of the visual scene."

e_mcgoey
29th May 2003, 14:20
I posted the whole article, not just the link, because articles on the NYTimes site often require free registration (well worth it, but I thought that some of you might find it to be a hassle), and disappear after a week.

That said, since it's a story about an article in Nature, it will probably be widely reported in other places, but anyway...

If I've been a bad boy though, feel free to give me spanking.

digit
29th May 2003, 19:20
Sweet. It's nice to improve your skills, but like Bavalier said, do your homework!

Well, thanks e_ for the article. It gives me something to do a science project on :D

RenegadeR109
29th May 2003, 20:25
yes sod my GCSEs i dont need them any more oh yeah right im offf ;) ;)

Reaperbot
30th May 2003, 08:45
TAKE THAT YOU ANTI-VIDEOGAMING PARENTS!!!!
BWAHAHAAAHHA!!!!!!

digit
31st May 2003, 20:43
People are always afraid of what they don't understand. It's always been like that and always will.

TimeSplittersDude
5th Jun 2003, 01:35
Dude.... THIS IS THE BEST POST IVE EVER... READ!!!!!!!!! muhahahahahahahahahhahahahahaahahahhaa to parents!

Im gunna print this 30 times and put it in everyones mailbox. SALVATION TO THE SMALL PEOPLES. Long live video games!

DrkSnpr14
23rd Dec 2003, 14:30
Dude, I coulda told you guys that.:D I love this post!

tyrantyoshi
23rd Dec 2003, 16:08
Yet another study supporting video games!:)

Calamariman
24th Dec 2003, 04:19
Video Games RULE!!!

Anti-game people think that video games should not be made anymore. But i think the opposite. If we did not have video games what would we do? Read a Book? NO WAY! Watch TV? NO! ive started playing video games since i was about 3 when the NES was popular. Hopefully the video game business stays as long as I live. Video games are the only source of fun and entertainment for me!

tyrantyoshi
30th Dec 2003, 16:43
Originally posted by Calamariman
Video Games RULE!!!

Anti-game people think that video games should not be made anymore. But i think the opposite. If we did not have video games what would we do? Read a Book? NO WAY! Watch TV? NO! ive started playing video games since i was about 3 when the NES was popular. Hopefully the video game business stays as long as I live. Video games are the only source of fun and entertainment for me!

SO, true Calamariman. People just can't understand the joy us gamers get out of our games. The good news is a lot more people like video games compared to video game haters.