back to article Action gamers make better drivers, soldiers, surgeons

Stateside brain experts say that their latest research indicates that playing action video games makes people more able to make correct decisions quickly under time pressure - potentially turning them into superior drivers, soldiers or surgeons. "It's not the case that the action game players are trigger-happy and less accurate …

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Anonymous Coward

What a load of ole....

....crap!

Though I would suggest, anything that would help drivers in the UK to improve on their atrocious driving skills, can only be a good thing.

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UK drivers

are actually pretty good. I've spent a lot of time driving in the US, India, Saudi Arabia and over 2 years driving experience in Mexico (my first experience of proper driving after my test [taken in Cambridge] was the 2 years in Mexico.) I'd take British driving over any of those other countries any day.

Although interestingly, despite the attrocious driving in Mexico, there's virtually no road-rage... Beeping of the horn to the rythm of "chinga tu madre" is about the worse it gets.

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Unhappy

Pretty good?

Tell that to the moron who missed my motorbike by millimetres yesterday because they decided to make a sudden right-turn without indicating, or checking their mirrors/blind spot.

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re: pretty good

@Loyal Commenter

And did that happen because youre a typical motocyclist who follows the car in front at a distance of no more than 6 inches from the nearside rear bumper? Not forgetting of course the belief that its ok for you to overtake stationary traffic at a junction and that the dividing chevrons on a dual carriageway are in fact an overtaking lane for motorcycles.

Admitting you drive a motorbike automatically excludes you from complaining about other peoples driving, pal.

On topic, slightly dubious about the research. It sounds logical and as a prolific gamer myself it would be nice to believe its true, but Im not sure.

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FAIL

Ignorance of the Highway code...

...also excludes you from commenting!

"And did that happen because youre a typical motocyclist who follows the car in front at a distance of no more than 6 inches from the nearside rear bumper?"

And do you believe that's typical biker behaviour because it's the only time you ever notice them?

"Not forgetting of course the belief that its ok for you to overtake stationary traffic at a junction..."

It's called filtering. It's in the Highway Code. Not in a "You must not do this!" manner but in a "Be careful when you do this" advisory. Google it.

"...and that the dividing chevrons on a dual carriageway are in fact an overtaking lane for motorcycles."

I see plenty of vehicles of all classes that treat chevrons as a special extra lane, not just bikes.

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re UK drivers

I second that, even compared to others in western Europe (who believe to have a high standard of driving).

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Flame

Of course?

Interesting. So you were alongside another vehicle.

Why were you so close that him turning causes him to hit you? Were you overtaking?

If not then you should have left a larger breaking distance.

If you were, then were you indicating? Were you sure it was a safe point to overtake? I can't remember the last time I saw a motorcylist actually indicate when they are going to suddenly overtake.

Makes me cross motorcylists claiming grievance against car drivers, as we are all just as crap as each other. But being sensible yourself doesn't half reduce the likelihood of an accident. Maybe you shoul;dn't have been so close?

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Stop

Ha!

"Admitting you drive a motorbike automatically excludes you from complaining about other peoples driving, pal."

Actually most studies done have indicated that Motorcyclists make much better drivers, cause fewer accidents, and that most accidents involving motorcyclists are actually caused by another vehicle. Let us break this down:

"follows the car in front at a distance of no more than 6 inches from the nearside rear bumper"

Stopping distance for a bike is generally shorter than a car. Add to this a motorcyclist is generally higher than their car driving counterpart, giving a better view of traffic ahead. Hence they do not need to leave as great a stopping distance between them and the car in front.

Even ignoring that, there are plenty of motorcyclists, like myself, who actually leave more room in front than the average car driver due to the consequences if they are in an accident. Also, I seen plenty of cars driving right up the vehicle in front's exhaust pipe. You get bad road users in all classes of vehicle.

"the belief that its ok for you to overtake stationary traffic at a junction"

Actually this IS OK. It is mentioned in the highway code, and is known as filtering. So long as it is done at a sensible speed, with the awareness that other road users may not expect you to be there, there is no problem. See http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_069854 (88)

I have of course seen motorcyclists filtering at what I would consider unsafe speeds on the motorway, but then again I have seen cars weaving in and out of traffic on the motorway at unsafe speeds, so once again it cuts both ways.

"the belief that ... the dividing chevrons on a dual carriageway are in fact an overtaking lane for motorcycles"

I agree that this is not a good idea, and is actually illegal if the lines surrounding it are solid, but once again I have seen cars do the same when circumstances allow, so you can not use it as a specific argument against the driving skills of motorcyclists.

Bottom line, Adam: Do not make sweeping generalisations about a group of people without having the facts. There are many good motorcyclists, and a few bad ones who give the rest of us a bad name. Many car drivers also see typical motorcyclist behaviour as dangerous purely because they do not know, having never ridden themselves. Of course there are many dickhead bikers out there, but there are also dickhead car/bus/lorry drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

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Boffin

@Adam West

I notice you don't mention the *cars* which tailgate motorcyclists like me at a distance so close that I first thought there was something wrong with my top box when I looked in my mirrors, only then to realise that there was a 4x4 sitting about ten feet from my rear wheel!

Nor do you mention the classic SMIDSY (Sorry Mate, I Didn't See You) as a motorist pulls out of a junction because they don't see the motorbike coming.

The DFTs own research states "Of the total cases, 681 (38%) involve ROWVs [Right of Way Violations]. However, less than 20% of these involve a motorcyclist who rated as either fully or partly to blame for the accident."

"the most common failure of other drivers in motorcycle accidents is a failure in the continuity of their observation of the road scene. Over 65% of ROWV accidents where the motorcyclist is not regarded as to blame involve a driver who somehow fails to see a motorcyclist who should be in clear view, and, indeed, frequently is in view to witnesses or other road users in the area."

It concludes:

"The main conclusions of our research are as follows:

"• A way must be found of targeting the other parties who so frequently cause motorcycle collisions. Drivers have to be made aware of the numerous ways that they can fail to perceive a motorcycle in the typical ROWV accidents that are most frequently not the fault of the rider involved. Our results suggest that interventions should be focused on (but not exclusively confined to) older drivers."

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme5/indepthstudyofmotorcycleacc.pdf

So before you start slagging off bikers, I suggest you consider the log in your own eye!

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shoddy excuses

"And do you believe that's typical biker behaviour because it's the only time you ever notice them?"

No, I believe it's typical biker behaviour because every single one, without exception, does this. Then complains when the driver in front makes a bad decision and they dont have time to react.

"It's called filtering. It's in the Highway Code. Not in a "You must not do this!" manner but in a "Be careful when you do this" advisory. Google it."

Actually the Highway Code says "Take care and keep your speed low". Which is odd, because apparently bikers read this sentance as "Do it at 30mph regardless of oncoming traffic".

"I see plenty of vehicles of all classes that treat chevrons as a special extra lane, not just bikes."

Ive never seen anything but motorbikes treat chevrons as a special lane in all the years Ive been driving.

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FAIL

Shoddy prejudice more like

I like the way you write off cited links and statistics as excuses and then come back with anecdotes to reinforce your prejudice. Fail.

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RE: shoddy excuses

"I believe it's typical biker behaviour because every single one, without exception, does this"

&

"Ive [sic] never seen anything but motorbikes treat chevrons as a special lane in all the years Ive [sic] been driving."

Seems you have:

a) Seen very few bad drivers and a lot of bad motorcyclists,

b) Have a coloured opinion of motorcyclists, or for some other reason only remember bad examples of motorcyclists, or

c) are not as observant as you would like to think, and therefore have not noticed good examples of motorcyclists.

Before you start, I would like to point out that I have no opinion either way, those are the options I can see.

But I know that, for myself, I saw several examples of good, bad, and "apparently bad" motorcyclists before I started riding ("apparently bad" is not good wording, I just mean things which looked bad to me, but which I have since discovered are perfectly acceptable). I know that most bikers are observant and respectful of other road users (until the prat in the car puts your life in danger of course!)

"Actually the Highway Code says "Take care and keep your speed low". Which is odd, because apparently bikers read this sentance as "Do it at 30mph regardless of oncoming traffic"."

Personally I limit filtering to 20mph, and merge back into traffic if it exceeds this. However, there are some conditions where 30mph is perfectly safe. Once again, you appear to only have seen the bad.

Might I ask how long you have been driving, and also where you are from? If things are as bad as you think there, it's not somewhere I would like to go. I would also expect there is a higher rate of motorcycle accidents there if they are riding as badly as you suggest.

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@Adam West

>>"Admitting you drive a motorbike automatically excludes you from complaining about other peoples driving, pal."

I'd suggest that being someone who can't process reality without making sweeping generalisations based on ignorance and prejudice is rather more of a disqualification from commenting.

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Stop

"Stopping distance for a bike is generally shorter than a car"

Just to put this myth to rest:

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Motorcycle-Safety-Driveability-790/Motorcycle-Stopping-Distance.htm

http://www.ukspeedtraps.co.uk/stopping.htm

Google is your friend!

Whatever the stopping distance, nothing excuses the all-too-common (in my experience) behaviour of some bikers in tailgating other vehicles at distances measurable in inches. I call them "NOBs" (Nutters On Bikes). I'm sure there are good bikers out there, but they seem to be a rarity where I live (admittedly, next to a long, straight stretch of road that seems to attract this species of jerk!)

Hey guys, either back off or overtake!

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Re braking

At least my brain doesn't make binary decisions when it comes to braking. It's more a decision based on a continous scale from 0 to 1, not unlike fuzzy logic can do. But, I think last Sunday I drove behind you, Daphne Bavelier. I suggest you sign up for some driver safety training...

@Lewis Page: the participants had not played (or rather reported not having played) video games the previous _year_.

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It does

You're either braking or not braking. That's binary. The degree of braking once you've made the decision to brake is a separate decision. That is not binary.

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@Arkasha

Oh yes, you are right! I completely forgot, it's always like: "there's a obstacle appearing. Hmmmm, should I brake or not? Well... YES. Now let's consider how much power I should apply to that brake pedal..." <crash>

</sarcasm> Usually, before deciding whether to brake I prepare for braking - this is the only binary decision in the process. After that it is braking on a scale 0 to 1, not necessarily involving touching the brake pedal. Only in extreme situations it's just slam on the brakes.

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@Arkasha

"You're either braking or not braking."

Assuming you mean "slowing down, or not slowing down", you are right ... However, quite often on the street, and every lap on the track, I'm applying the brakes (to set the nose) whilst simultaneously accelerating ... Applies to both two and four wheels. Three wheels? Sometimes in my Morgan ... The Corvair powered trike? Not so much, but then it doesn't handle for shit regardless of how I drive it ;-)

Don't try this at home, unless you know what you are doing ... Getting in over your head is easy.

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Terminator

Jack Thompson

Wasn't one of Jack Thompson's widely derised arguments that we were training our kids to be soldiers? Doesn't this kind of tie in with that?

I suppose that his shotgun approach to blaming everything on games was going to get something right eventually.

T-100, I'm sure some of the people playing counterstrike aren't human...

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Go

The military know this and target them for recruiting

I noticed advertisements posted by the Canadian armed forces were targeting joystick games players to use some of the more modern equipment.

The Arizona-based desk-jockey pilots who fly the Pakistan drones knocking off unsavoury characters were also selected on their joystick skills.

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WTF?

A positive gaming story?

April first already? Do my eyes deceive me or was this an article advocating the benefits of violent gaming? I suspect though an adrenaline level difference 'twixt SIMS-2 and MW2 players may have had some baring on the results :)

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Of course this helps

Reflex and rapid decision training - gets faster pathways in the brain. This has been known for ages.

The braking bit is almost irrelevant - all action games should help, forget driving games.

(although it looks like Lewis Hamilton is a big fan of the driving games, judging by the pre-race stuff on Sunday. He'd be a reasonable role model here, methinks)

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Role Model???

This is the same Lewis Hamilton that didn't leave enough room, didn't brake in time and broke his car about 30 seconds into the race.

Some role model.

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Coat

Re: Role Model???

Definately, being both British and a driver.

Maybe not a good model, but certainly an accurate one.....

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Joke

ADD <> Autism

Gamers display all the symptoms of Autism, which is all the way on the other end of spectrum: they pay attention to one thing, and one thing alone, regardless of everything else. For hours on end. Even if there is an earthquake. Even if their mothers are yelling their lungs out at them to go to school.

They forget to eat, sleep, crap, etc...

I did it myself for 18 hours. After that, one leg was numb, the other had purple spots and ached as hell, I was hungry, cold, and craving for some shut-eye. Does that mean I am an autist? Of course I was alone, nobody was there to wake me up to the weekend life.

No s* Sherlock research, indeed.

I find it all the other way around, ADD kids can´t bother to sit for 2 hours straight and play a video-game; instead, they are running about, screaming to the top of their lungs and hanging from chandeliers upside down from their ankles, if allowed to. Of course, it is associated with hyperactivity.

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Pint

Bwa?

I'd say you are in the 1% minority here, most gamers I know (myself included) can't even stay awake for eighteen hours!

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I rather thought

the driver of the X51 into Walsall this morning must have learned to drive on Carmaggedon.

I can't cover the distance in my car that fast but he was stopping for passengers too! Respeck!

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Late research

Isn't this research rather behind the curve? Various militaries around the world have been shoving their troops through simulators for years in order to build up the quick reflexes and rapid decision making capabilities. The driving school already puts people through simulators and have been using them for ages in order to test people while drunk or distracted by mobile phones.

Not sure what this paper seeks to prove, but the bits extracted are not saying anything that has not already been known for years.

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Suprised no one has mentioned

That The Sims is hardly a good counterbalance. Probably was rotting their brains from the inside.

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FAIL

The result was obvious

Anyone playing Sims2 for more than a week would be in no fit state to do anything, an effective software lobotomy.

Scientist: "Where is the yellow dot?"

Sims2 Player : "Ooo but there are so many pretty dots to choose from, I'm not sure I want the yellow one. Can I try them on the walls? that will look nice."

There's your result.

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Speaking as a guy who spends a lot of time on the racetrack ...

... purely at the amateur level, mind ... I'm here to tell you that most of us avoid the "video gamer" set with a passion. They seem to get in over their heads entirely too often. RealLife[tm] isn't a place where you have the option of reloading from a previously saved position ...

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I'm await the study into how running and jumping, improves your running and jumping.

This just in: repeatedly doing things that require quick judgement and observation makes you good at quick judgements and observation.

This also just in: you can actually do some of this stuff, for real (which would also, presumably, provide you with the necessary muscles to actually perform the manouvres).

In fact, I'm going to see if I can get funding, from someone, to work out whether becoming a trialon competitor, three day eventer, or a pole vaulter, makes you better at fragging people in Call of Duty.

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Surgeons?

Split second? Really? I mean, I can *maybe* see it when the occasional patient goes all Sigourney Weaver on the table and it's like "Hmm... so it's not appendicitis after all... Damn, now how do you deal with alien parasitic inseminations again? Crap that was like 4th year med school too... I should remember this." I mean, sure, nobody wants that.

But really... I kinda hope my surgeries go at a nice, smooth and relaxed pace - I'll give the split-second decision making a pass while I'm under the knife, thanks.

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Really?

I would prefer my surgeon was good at making split-second decisions. After all, if they hit a problem (not everything goes smooothly, no matter how skilled the surgeon or how well planned the operation), I would prefer they immediately fixed it rather than I die on the operating table...

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Badgers

And maybe...

strategy game players will show improvement in making strategic decisions?

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Ahh

the motorcycle argument. So flawed.

You know how it is on the roads, yet you choose to put yourselves in harms way.

Don't bitch at drivers, it's your choice.

Bitch at your local representative that the police aren't interested in nabbing people for driving without due care and attention.

Bascally, STFU unless you're going to do something about it.

( I've lost count of reports in the local paper, or seeing the road closed again, because of 40 something riders killing themselves on the roads round here, grow up you wankers)

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Flame

And another one!

"Don't bitch at drivers, it's your choice.

"Bitch at your local representative that the police aren't interested in nabbing people for driving without due care and attention."

So you are saying that we shouldn't complain about people driving about due care and attention?! We shouldn't complain about people who drive too close to the vehicle in front, use their mobile phone while driving, don't look where they are going and generally assume that they own the roads?!?!

Yes, the police should nab drivers (and motorcyclists, cyclists, etc for that matter) who put other road users in danger, but I saw one of my mates doing so, I would complain to him too. If a driver pulls out on me, nearly causing me to crash trying to avoid him, and I see him stopped at the next traffic lights or pull into a car park, I will follow him and give him a piece of my mind. Everyone has a right to complain about someone putting their life in danger. When I am on a bike, I take a calculated risk, true. But it is when people, through idiocy, complacency or whatever, put me in direct danger that I get angry.

"Bascally, STFU unless you're going to do something about it."

Or you can STFU for being a selfish prick, obviously not caring about the safety of anyone who's recreational or transport choices you disagree with!

"( I've lost count of reports in the local paper, or seeing the road closed again, because of 40 something riders killing themselves on the roads round here, grow up you wankers)"

And I've lost track of the number of car accidents which have closed the M62, making me late for work (often a 40-something business exec who is driving like a dick because he thinks 5 minutes of his time is worth more than other peoples safety). Time for YOU to grow up, I think, and realise that there are bad examples of any group.

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Its really rather simple.

Motorbikes do not have enough wheels. They have two wheels, thats two less than is preffered and one less still than is required. Yes, Motorbikes may be fun, they may be fast, they may even be exhilarating, but there just is not enough room to ride on safely on the road now a days. On a bike everything including balance and timing must be perfect - hard to do when the streets are full and other cars are pulling out into ones path. Especially the speed some bike owners tend to do...

They are fun, they can even be safe. But statisticly speaking, at somepoint while driving be it a car, bike, truck or van one does and will have an accident. One accident within 25 years of riding can be one too much.

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Stop

Or looking at it another way.

Cars have too many wheels and too many "safety" features that insulate the driver from the consequences of their actions. They are just too easy to drive.

If the roads are dangerous, surely the solution is to remove the cause of the danger? Or would you also advocate a policy of hiding indoors rather than tackling street crime? Roads are a shared resource and anyone who can't use them safely and with consideration for others should be banned.

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@Richard Jukes

>>" Especially the speed some bike owners tend to do...

...But statistically speaking, at somepoint..."

But there's part of the answer. By not riding stupidly, one can reduce risks quite a lot - not only seriously reducing the chances of all kinds of rider-caused accidents, and reducing the severity of ones that happen, but also reducing the risk of accidents that are other people's fault - see someone look like they might be about to act like a dick - take preemptive action, and/or make yourself more visible.

I guess one problem is that sometimes, in any vehicle, the best preemptive action is actually to speed up rather than slow down, and bikes are generally much better at speeding up than other vehicles, and at fitting through gaps that to other people would have already become off-limits. They can also be relatively noisy when doing that.

The guy who was about to do something daft or was in the process of doing something daft sees a bike zip by, and then falls back on his prejudices about 'dangerous bikers' when if it hadn't been for him, they'd have just been cruising along quite happily.

After all, the Volvo driver who pulls out late into a gap that wasn't large enough, and then doesn't bother accelerating since he's probably going to decide to turn off again fairly soon, maybe even indicating beforehand, isn't doing anything wrong. How could he be, when he always drives like that?

It's the biker who goes round him, either taking immediate avoiding action or just trying to get away from a likely future hazard who is clearly the dangerous one. After all, they're going much faster than he is.

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Precisely

"I guess one problem is that sometimes, in any vehicle, the best preemptive action is actually to speed up rather than slow down"

It is one technique I use fairly frequently, on motorways especially. If I am using the outside lane to overtake, but the vehicle in front is only moving a tiny amount faster than the car being overtaken, The best option I have found is to hang back where the driver of the vehical being overtaken can see me, then accelerate past him once there is space. The last place you want to be is in a drivers blind spot for an extended period of time, as you cannot count on them to check.

But to the driver of the vehicle I am overtaking, all he often sees is a bike fly past him, then decelerate. They may see it as a dangerous maneouver, thinking I was just doing that speed all the way, then decelerating at the "last minute".

The same goes for moving around in the lane, something my instructor told me to do as it increases the likelihood of being seen. But to some, it is seen as a biker weaving around dangerously.

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