Yesterday, in a report released by Brain Scientist, Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York; it was discovered within her personal lab and the studies conducted that people can benefit mentally and experience better eye function from playing a First Person Shooter daily. The presentation (which can be seen below from TED.com) combined multiple pieces of data about how individuals react during these games and the results were mind boggling when the final hypothesis was reached, no pun intended. The study showed that not only everything that we have ever been taught about watching TV, and the damage it does to your eyes; to the information spread about video games rotting your brain, are quite simply false.
The presentation consisted, first, of a focus on sight and the damage that television has on your eyes. While it may be true that TV Screens and the light omitted from them can have a negative effect on a persons sight over the years; apparently, by playing a First Person Shooter (FPS) game you can actually increase the ability to read finer details, but also react faster because of the ability to notice things quicker. When saying that playing an FPS is something that can help, I should take a moment to preface these statements with the fact that these studies are only over a one hour per day play time. Whether your young or old, too much of one thing is never good. This is why it is still not recommended that you sit on your couch and play for 15 straight hours, but instead use moderation in play, because in the end by playing too much you deprive yourself of other things, such as exercise, that may have an impact on your overall health. While it might not be ideal, it has been proven that no matter how much of an FPS is played at a time, there are drastic benefits to doing so for the eyes.
The eyes aren’t the only thing that sees a benefit from FPS play, as the brain also sees significant improvements in multiple action processing as well. One thing that was brought to light as well, is the ability for those that play FPS games to process multiple sets of information at once better than those that don’t. There were a few different studies shown and the crowd interacted too, but the most profound information came from a simple test that had individuals check a shape and identify which was the same in a different position from a set of five images. The ability for people to identify the image was rather average without playing a game first, but after playing a FPS for 10 hours over the course of 10 days, whether they had before or not, drastically improved their ability to process the information. Not only that, the information was retained and improved even more five months later.
While it may be true that TV Screens and the light omitted from them can have a negative effect on a persons sight over the years; apparently, by playing a First Person Shooter (FPS) game you can actually increase the ability to read finer details, but also react faster because of the ability to notice things quicker.
This study couldn’t have come at a better time for the First Person Shooter genre, as it has been under much scrutiny since the events that took place in Newtown, Connecticut. These horrific and tragic events led to a government investigation into the effects that these games have on the human mind. While these types of games never were banned or sanctioned, they have, of course, been under the watchful eye of a large portion of the population; simply waiting for another tragic event to take place so that the fingers can be pointed in the direction of these titles. While something like this, doesn’t change the fact that the violent content within these titles is still violent, it does shed light that these games do have a place and benefit to society. I’m sure we wont see Call of Duty being used in mental rehabilitation facilities anytime in the near future, but the likelihood that once the full spectrum of benefits are seen, the chances that we’ll see titles such as these be taken off the market will slim as each passing day goes by. As a gamer, a father, and a proponent to the fact that video games are more than just child’s play, within moderation and careful consideration of what adolescents are playing, these studies are not only exciting to me they also prove that games are, in fact, beneficial but should see their rightful place amongst the masses.
You can see the full video here, I would encourage you to take the time to watch the full presentation; the information is extremely interesting: