Two Cheers for Video Games

Sure, video games create adolescent automatons and slack-jawed dullards who only want to kill, kill, kill, right? Eh, not exactly:

"Action-video-game play changes the way our brains process visual information," said Daphne Bavelier, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at Rochester and lead author of the study.

"After just 30 hours of training, people who didn't normally play video games showed a substantial increase in the spatial resolution of their vision, meaning they could see small, closely packed letters, like those on an eye chart, more clearly, even when other symbols crowded in," she explained.

More here.

More bad news for those who claim that violent video games are bad stuff: Texas A&M researcher Christopher J. Ferguson's recently completed meta-analysis of studies on the topic found a publication bias toward studies touting a connection between games and violent behavior--a finding that often wasn't even supported by the research presented in those studies. Read more here.

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  • ||

    Take that Jack Thompson

  • Guy Montag||

  • ||

    showed a substantial increase in the spatial resolution of their vision
    Apparently yet another "not really" moment from the MSM.


    http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=79369
    They found that novice video game players improved their ability to ignore visual clutter by about 15% to 20% after playing an action video game for 30 hours over four to six weeks.

    But don't toss out your glasses just yet.

    The improvements were "very, very small because we're looking at people that already have very, very good vision," Bavelier tells WebMD.

    "We're looking at measures that you probably won't pick up if you were to just go to your optometrist and have an eye test," she says.


  • Nash||

    I wonder how long until they start adding something along the lines of "Good and good for you!" on the boxes of FPS games.

  • ||

    I knew the Master Chief wouldn't let me down.

  • ||

    But I also hear that car racing video games promote risky driving behavior.

    That's why I take any causation/correlation study like these with a grain of salt.

  • Guy Montag||

    That's why I take any causation/correlation study like these with a grain of salt.

    Cooking games are suspected of causing that.

  • ||

    That's why I take any causation/correlation study like these with a grain of salt.

    Agreed. These studies are tend to be just as worthless as the ones that claim the videos games make kids into killers becausekids in the study were more inclined to hit an inflatable clown after playing.

    Even if there is a positive to be gained in terms of vision, the "violent games create real violence" crowd would probably suggest that the same benefits could be gained from playing something like Tetris.

  • ||

    When the aliens come in their hordes, and no one knows how shoot them, these vidoe game critics will be sorry.

  • ||

    David,
    Sorry no:
    Only certain games -- first-person action games that require, say, spotting a target and shooting at it -- have the desired effect. Slower, puzzle-style games, like "Tetris," showed no effect on test scores for a group of Rochester students who played the game daily for a month.

    Twenty five years ago, I was the best Tempest player in the county. Now I need bifocals. Coincidence?

  • ||

    Twenty five years ago, I was the best Tempest player in the county. Now I need bifocals. Coincidence?

    Maybe, but then maybe the old wives' tales about certain activities ruining your eyesight are true.

  • Guy Montag||

    Maybe, but then maybe the old wives' tales about certain activities ruining your eyesight are true.

    No, they are false. I can still pass a flight physical :)

  • Dan T.||

    Agreed. These studies are tend to be just as worthless as the ones that claim the videos games make kids into killers becausekids in the study were more inclined to hit an inflatable clown after playing.

    One problem with this discussion is that it inevitably gets taken to the extremes. It's silly to think that a video game turns a normal nice kid into a killer. But is it so silly to think that hours and hours of exposure to a media does not have some effect on a person's mind? Isn't this the basic principle behind such things as education, advertising, job training, etc?

  • Timothy||

    I've played violent video games for as long as I can remember and, aside from the overwhelming urge to kill, I'm totally fine.

  • fo shizzle||

  • Fluffy||

    I think I would concede to Dan's argument the idea that it's possible for the books one reads, the games one plays, etc., to have an impact on one's future thinking and decision-making.

    I just also think that in a constitutional democracy that doesn't matter.

    Maybe playing a lot of video games will make a kid think that violence is an appropriate way to resolve conflict. Last time I checked, it wasn't illegal to think that. You're even free to agitate politically to increase the number of situations where you're legally entitled to use violence. That being the case, on what basis can we make it illegal to produce media that communicate the idea itself?

  • ||

    I know one thing for sure....Warren and I must live in a different county. I was the best Tempest player 'round these parts. While we are at it, I still have my initials on the Dig Dug and Gorf game down at Flipper McCoys.

  • ||

    I wonder on what other high-profile topics we might find a publication bias supporting more government intervention into our lives?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I can tell you from personal experience that playing Runescape has helped my son's keyboard skills so much that he now spends about 1/3 as much time with his spelling words and sentences homework that he used to spend.

  • ||

    Cab,
    By legitimate play, I was able to make it to the staircase on the invisibles. On machines I could game and start on the green circle, I got to the triangle.

    I liked GORF, but we moved just when I was getting good, and I never saw another one. Dig-Dug was one of the games I figured they made to lure girls into the arcade.

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    I can tell you are a gamer by the your use of the term "legitimate play." Tempest had a lot of little quirks by which you could 'cheat' to get by.

    Although I was pretty good at most games, the Stargate Defender players always had me in awe. Those guys were world class athletes, with the mind of a scholar and the focus of a warrior.

    Scratch that, now that I think about it, they were just stoners.

  • LarryA||

    And, after all, you could be in line to save the universe.

  • ||

    But is it so silly to think that hours and hours of exposure to a media does not have some effect on a person's mind? Isn't this the basic principle behind such things as education, advertising, job training, etc?

    It probably has some effect. However, there is no guarantee that it affects everyone, or even most people, in the same way, which is what the anti-violent-video-game crusaders would have us believe.

  • ||

    Video games have little to no lasting effect on me. They're just innocent fun. Movies can affect me for days. They alter my mood and affect my dreams.

    Which do you think has more of an influence on "The Youth"?

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