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Action-Packed Video Games May Be Good for You After All
Date:9/14/2010

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Fast-action video games may help train people to make quick, accurate decisions in all aspects of life, new findings suggest.

The authors of a study published Sept. 14 in the journal Current Biology theorize that action games like Halo encourage players to better use evidence drawn from their senses in decision-making, a skill known as probabilistic inference.

And their decisions are just as accurate as those of non-players, which is evidence that the fast-paced gamers are not responding in a "trigger-happy" fashion, the researchers said.

"They are making more efficient use of the information that is out there," said C. Shawn Green, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral associate at the University of Minnesota's department of psychology. "They are pulling more information from the sensory world, related to the decision facing them."

It was only action games, which are commonly "shooter" games, that had this effect, as opposed to strategy or role-playing games, the study authors found.

The researchers had one set of subjects play the first-person shooter games Unreal Tournament 2004 and Call of Duty, while control subjects played The Sims, a strategic game meant to simulate life.

Both groups were then asked to perform visual and auditory tasks that tested decision-making skills. One task involved observing an array of dots in motion and trying to detect their primary direction of movement. Another asked the subjects to don headphones and listen through white noise to figure out which ear was receiving a tone signal.

Action video gamers displayed superior decision-making ability in terms of speed, and their responses were no less accurate than the other players' responses. These findings held true for diehard video game players as well as non-gamers recruited to play action
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