SYDNEY (Reuters) - Violent video games like “Call of Duty” can help trigger-happy players make decisions faster in real life, according to a study released on Wednesday.
Researchers from New York’s University of Rochester found that first-person shooter games produced a heightened sensitivity and led to more efficient use of sensory evidence.
“These benefits of video games stem only from action games, which almost always means shooter games, where you go through a maze and you don’t know when a villain will appear,” researcher Daphne Bavelier said in a statement.
“It’s not exactly what you’d think of as mind enhancing. Strategy or role-playing games don’t have the same effect.”
The study, published in the journal Current Biology, involved testing 26 people aged 18 to 25, none of whom had played shooting games before, over several months.
Half of the participants played 50 hours of shooting games like “Call of Duty” and “Unreal Tournament” while the other half played 50 hours of a strategy game, “The Sims 2.”
They were then given various tests such as deciding which direction a group of dots on a screen was moving at varying speeds, and deciphering which ear was hearing noises.
The researchers found that the group who had played the shooting games was able to make judgments faster and more accurately. They were found to be 25 percent better at decision making.
“Unlike standard learning paradigms, which have a highly specific solution, there is no such specific solution in action video games because situations are rarely, if ever, repeated,” the researchers wrote in their study.
“Thus, the only characteristics that can be learned are how to rapidly and accurately learn the statistics on the fly and how to accumulate this evidence more efficiently.” The findings come amid a debate about the pros and cons of violent video games such as first-person shooters.
Research from Texas A&M International University earlier this year found violent video games can increase aggression and hostility in some players but also found that they can benefit others by honing their visual/spatial skills and improving social networking ability.
Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Dean Goodman