Video games scientifically proven to be good for you, sort of

In a strange twist on common intuition, researchers at the University of Rochester in New York released a study yesterday that showed shoot-em-up video games may engender better and faster decision making skills among players, indicating that such games may actually be producing men of action. Who would indeed take action, no doubt, if only they had the motivation to get up off the couch.

In the study, researchers tested the decision-making skills of gamers against those of non-gamers by asking them to decide, say, which object projected on a screen was moving faster, or which ear a sound was coming from in a pair of stereo headphones. Consistently, the gaming group could pinpoint those things faster and more accurately. But that presented a chicken-and-egg scenario, where the researchers wondered if the gamers got those skills as a result of gaming, or if they attracted to the games because they just naturally possessed those skills in the first place. The solution? Turn the non-gamers into gamers.

So the researchers got the non-gamers to play 50 hours, over the course of several months, of different kinds of video games. Half played shooter games like Call of Duty, while the other half played strategy games.

At the end of the study, researchers applied the same tests to the newly minted gamers and found some interesting results: The group that played shooter games did better -- a lot better, like, 25 percent better.

But lest gamers out there get to feeling real smug-like, researchers are quick to note that the study results only apply to shooter-type games, meaning the only thing you RPG folks out there are getting from gaming is still obesity and sadness. For the shooters, though, all those hours of playing spy games might just translate into skills you could conceivably apply to being an actual spy.

Right after you finish that bag of Cheetos.

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Jef Otte
Contact: Jef Otte