Saturday, March 17, 2007

Good news for gamers

You can quote the good researchers at the University of Rochester. They proved that students who played action video games a few hours a day for a month improved their performance by 20 per cent at a "clutter test" - something like a standard eye-test.

Chosen for the research were students at the University who hardly played games. It was a tough job, but they found some. Then those students were given the clutter test. This consists of the following: one needs to identify the orientation of a "T" thrown somewhere in a "clutter" of other symbols. Then, the students were divided into two groups - one group played Tetris for about an hour a day, and the other played Unreal Tournament. The official difference? The latter is more visually complex.

After a month, the Tetris players hadn’t improved and the UT players had improved at the clutter test.

So here’s the head researcher’s verdict: Daphne Bavelier says, "When people play action games, they’re changing the brain’s pathway responsible for visual processing. These games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it."
And if that weren’t enough, Bavelier goes on: "That learning carries over into other activities and possibly everyday life."

Meaning - and it doesn’t get any better - that gaming actually makes you smarter, too!
What next? Bavelier’s team plans to use a 360 degree virtual reality lab being developed at the University. Now if they find something useful from that, I’m not sure you’ll be able to convince your folks to buy you a head-mounted display, but for now, you can show them this.

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