Video Games Help Us Make Faster Decisions

Illustration for article titled Video Games Help Us Make Faster Decisions

Scientists from the University of Rochester have found that playing fast-paced action video games helps players make decisions 25 percent faster than normal, yet no less accurate.

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We've long known that playing video games helps sharpen reflexes and motor skills, but a new study proves that gaming also has a strong effect on our cognitive abilities as well. Daphne Bavelier, Alexandre Pouget, and C. Shawn Green have authored a study that purports to show that video games could be used as training to increase reaction time in a wide variety of real-life situations.

How did they come up with their results? The first step was finding "dozens" of 18 to 25-year-olds that weren't already gamers. Once that herculean task was complete, they split the subjects into two groups. One group was subjected to 50 hours of fast-paced action games like Call of Duty and Unreal Tournament. The other group played 50 hours of strategy games like The Sims 2.

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After the gaming sessions, participants had to complete several tasks set up by the researchers, generally by looking at a screen and determining the direction a group of dots was travelling. The action game players answered the questions 35 percent faster than players of The Sims 2, while getting just as many answers correct.

Meanwhile The Sims 2 players were 75 percent more likely to trap virtual people in a tiny room with no doors or windows, a figure that is pure assumption on my part.

"It's not the case that the action game players are trigger-happy and less accurate: They are just as accurate and also faster," Bavelier said. "Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time. If you are a surgeon or you are in the middle of a battlefield, that can make all the difference."

To understand how the decision-making speed is enhanced, one needs to understand how the brain makes decisions. Humans are constantly taking in small pieces of visual or auditory information that is used to calculate possible responses to decisions in their heads. Eventually a person gathers enough information to make what they believe to be a correct decision.

"Decisions are never black and white," (Bavelier) said. "The brain is always computing probabilities. As you drive, for instance, you may see a movement on your right, estimate whether you are on a collision course, and based on that probability make a binary decision: brake or don't brake."

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Action games simply help the players become more efficient at processing decision-making information.

Sure, they might seem like a bunch of Neanderthals when you meet them on Xbox Live, but rest assured, when an action gamer call your mother a whore, they decided to call your mother a whore faster than someone playing The Sims 2 would have.

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Video Games Lead to Faster Decisions That Are No Less Accurate [Science Daily]

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DISCUSSION

twice i saved my car from being annihilated from really quick reaction times. i was driving on the verezano birdge in the left lane and out of nowhere the car in front of me(bmw x5) had smoke shooting out the back , before i knew it it had completely stopped and the smoke was from the car tires due to braking. knowing that the brakes in my car were in need of service and i could not stop in time and i had a car next to me on the right, so rather than crash into car in front or side of me i down shifted and floored my gas pedal and passed the car on the right missing both cars by an inch. this all happened in about 2-3 seconds(thank god for manual transmissions and the turbo charger in my car)

another time i was driving through residential side streets with a few friends in my car, and a car was heading straight for me on the wrong side of the road, there were people walking on the right (my closest escape route). so somehow i pulled the wheel to the left went up someone's driveway missing there car and then through 2 more lawns of the front of the houses missing 2 more sets of parked cars and landscaping and all sorts of shit, to eventually finding myself getting back on the road through the third driveway down. all the while doing this i was going about 40 miles per hour. me and my friends couldn't believe what happened.

i don't credit video games / actions video games to my quick driving decisions however i do think it has helped on those situations and many more. also for some reason i always make people jump they never realize i am near buy or approaching them. it could be people i don't know, friends, or family they always get startled, and say something like "holy shit! i didn't even no you were there, you scared the shit out of me" i am 6 ft tall i don't know how people don't notice me. not sure if any game or games caused that but it's really weird it is as if i was an assassin or ninja in a past life.

sorry for my rant but overall i certainly agree that fast paced video games help your brain overall and keep you on point even after you play the game