Gamers Not Great at Finding Explosives

Soldiers who grew up in the burbs playing video games instead of shooting varmints in the country, or avoiding trouble in a bad neighborhood, are singled out by Army research as particularly poor at spotting roadside bombs.

Writes the Los Angeles Times:

Military researchers have found that two groups of personnel are particularly good at spotting anomalies: those with hunting backgrounds, who traipsed through the woods as youths looking to bag a deer or turkey; and those who grew up in tough urban neighborhoods, where it is often important to know what gang controls which block.

Personnel who fit neither category, often young men who grew up in the suburbs and developed a liking for video games, do not seem to have the depth perception and peripheral vision of the others, even if their eyesight is 20/20.

Note, this isn't explosive ordnance disposal, they're talking about riding in a humvee and picking up details that someone might have buried explosives in the road. This is important because, of bombs discovered before they went off, like 90 percent of them were found because someone's spidey-sense went off.

The story quotes a sergeant major who finds the research fits with his own observations. "The gamers are very focused on the screen rather than the whole surrounding," he said. Country boys and hood rats have a more finely-tuned radar - that head on a swivel mentality when you're potentially in a dangerous situation.

Some Troops Have a Sixth Sense for Bombs [Los Angeles Times via Game Politics]