How's your "contrast sensitivity"? What's that? Well it helps you see in the dark, and read, and it degrades in old age. But a study found it improves in gamers who play shooters.
The research, reported in the latest edition of Nature Neuroscience, took a very deep look at how games affect vision. The results surprised the scientists - gamers got better at picking up changes in gray tones against a uniform background.
"This is not a skill that people were supposed to get better at by training," said Daphne Bavelier, the lead researcher and a professor at the University of Rochester. "It was something that we corrected for at the level of the optics of the eye – to get better contrast detection you get glasses or laser surgery."
What's more, it wasn't some temporary boost in vision. "The positive effect remained months, even years after training, indicating long-lasting gains," she said.
Just to make sure they weren't in a chicken-and-egg conundrum - whether people with strong contrast detection by nature self-selected into playing video games, skewing the results - they hooked study participants up for 50 hours of gaming. One group played Call of Duty, the other played an unnamed game that was "a rich visual experience, but bereft of action."
"We found that the people in the first group improved by 43 percent, and the other group not at all," she said.
Forty-three percent is what most would call statistically significant. From the writeup, it sounds like this are serious science and she are serious scientist. So, if someone sweats you for your obsessive L4D habit, just tell them that it's money in the bank for enjoying clear sight in your old age.
Shooter Games 'Sharpen Vision' [Agence France-Press]