Today's Lesson: Call of Duty
- A body of recent research shows that playing certain video games improves vision, attention, spatial reasoning and decision making.
- More than 90 percent of children play video games, and adults do, too: the average gamer's age is 33 years.
- The games that have the most powerful neurological effects are the ones parents hate the most: violent first-person shooters.
I am in an overgrown lot leaning against an eight-foot-tall shipping container. I look both ways, weighing my options. A man with an assault rifle is looking for me, just as I am looking for him. Hoping for a better vantage point, I run toward the abandoned car to my right. A metallic bang rings out as my opponent's shot hits the wall I have just left. I dodge around the next container, then circle behind it. Raising my M16, I peer through the scope as I run. There he is! I hit the track pad of my laptop hard and fast, but my aim is wobbly. I miss. He spins, fires, and I'm dead.
So ended my introduction to first-person-shooter video games. Clearly, I was not very good. With practice, I would probably get better. What is less obvious is that a decade of research has shown that if I spent a few more hours playing Call of Duty, I could improve more than my aim and the life expectancy of my avatar. Aspects of my vision, attention, spatial reasoning and decision making would all change for the better.
This article was originally published with the title Brain-Changing Games.