Video gaming fans have long said it, and now it has added academic backing. As told to the Association of Psychologcal Science, “our research shows that playing easily accessible action video games for as little as five hours can be a cost-effective tool to help people improve essential visuomotor-control skills used for driving,” researcher Li Li of New York University Shanghai said.
Along with other researchers, Li devised studies to explore the possible links between playing video games and visuomotor control, or eye-to-limb coordination. In one study, the scientists examined a group who played action games for five to 10 hours per week for the past six months and compared them to subjects who didn’t. In a driving simulation, the gamers were better able to keep a vehicle in the lane while compensating for crosswinds.
The researchers found that just a few hours were required for positive results to take place. A group of non-gamers were participants for this experiment, and they were given 10 one-hour training sessions in either Mario Kart or a strategy game, Roller Coaster Tycoon III. After just five hours, the Mario Kart players demonstrated better visuomotor control as compared with those who played the strategy game, and the Mario Karters improved even more at the end of the 10-hour test.
The benefits drawn aren’t limited to driving games; the researchers also found that participants who had no action gaming experience also demonstrated improved visuomotor control after playing Unreal Tournament, a first-person-shooter (FPS) game. The two kinds of action games had differing effects on visuomotor control, with the report saying it suggests they may be suited to different audiences.
“The differing effects of driving and FPS video games on the sensorimotor system suggest that for experienced drivers, who have stable control but need to improve their ability to predict input error signals, training with FPS rather than driving video games is more effective,” Li explained. “In contrast, for novice drivers, who are still struggling with obtaining stable control, training with driving rather than FPS video games is more helpful.”
In other words, if you’re just starting out on the road and would like virtual practice for basic vehicle control, a driving game appears beneficial. On the other hand, if you already have some experience driving but would feel the need to respond more quickly to potential fender-benders or scrapes, perhaps a first-person shooter game is the order of the day. - Paultan