Kurt Verlin
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Action Video Games Scientifically Proven to Improve Driving Ability

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Onboard the Supra.

As someone who regularly plays racing simulators, I could have told you myself that you can learn many skills behind a virtual wheel that can be useful behind a real one—but that would have been subjective and anecdotal. For something to be accepted as truth it needs to be scientifically true, and now we’ve got just that.

In an article published to the Psychological Science journal, researchers Li Li, Rongrong Chen, and Jing Chen describe how they found that playing action video games can significantly improve visuomotor control and thus make people more skilled at accomplishing related daily tasks like driving.

After playing a driving or first-person-shooter (FPS) video game for five to ten hours, people who did not normally play action video games showed significant improvement in visuomotor control. It’s important to note, however, that the people in the control group played non-action video games and showed no improvements—so if your playing history consists of titles like The Vanishing of Ethan Carter and Life is Strange, tough luck (they’re both excellent games, though).

The study also found that improved visuomotor skills translated directly to the road, as action gamers with better visuomotor control showed higher aptitude at lane-keeping. Their precision error was 57% smaller, their response amplitude was 24% larger, and their response delay was 29% shorter.

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In other words, you don’t even need a steering wheel to play the game; heck, the game you’re playing doesn’t even need to be a driving game: as long as it’s an action video game where your reflexes are kept sharp… well, your reflexes will improve, and so will your driving.

In addition, the study suggested that FPS and driving games have different benefits. While FPS games are more effective at improving an experienced driver’s ability to predict input error signals, driving games are better used to improve a novice driver’s stable control.

The authors also cited numerous other studies that have shown playing action video games improves contrast sensitivity, motion-direction discrimination, visuospatial resolution and attention, and top-down guidance in visual search.

So gamers are basically superhumans. Just, you know, don’t ask them to lift anything 😉

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Source: Psychological Science