Video games account for a variety of genres as wide-ranging as movies or books. There are strategy games, puzzles games, action games — and on and on. Of those, action games are the most maligned, though a study shows playing them can be beneficial.
A trio of researchers at the University of Rochester in New York took dozens of boys and girls between the ages of 18 and 25 — all of whom were not frequent video game players — and split them into two groups. One group played 50 hours of fast-paced action games such as Unreal Tournament and Call of Duty 2 (which, it's worth noting, are pretty old). The other spent the same amount of time tormenting some digital people in The Sims 2.
After all that awful research, the team had the kids perform a series of tests:
In the tasks, the participants had to look at a screen, analyze what was going on, and answer a simple question about the action in as little time as possible (i.e. whether a clump of erratically moving dots was migrating right or left across the screen on average). In order to make sure the effect wasn't limited to just visual perception, the participants were also asked to complete an analogous task that was purely auditory.
It was found that the group who played the action games made decisions up to 25% faster: "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."
Of course, you don't have to be a battle surgeon for this to apply to you (though maybe the military should get our medics playing some games). What do you think, dear reader? Will we see "get smart quick" scams recommending 50 hours of action games a week?