Studies underway by the Office of Naval Research found that video game players are better-equipped to fight the war on terror, for all the reasons you’d expect. Games help adults process information quickly and solve problems on the fly — valuable tools when you’re at war. Compared to people who don’t play video games, gamers performed 10 percent to 20 percent better on perceptual and cognitive ability tests. It seems obvious, but ONR Program Officer Ray Perez said in a Department of Defense story that the results are surprising, because it was once believed that brain cell capacity was achieved at age 20. But video game training programs are resulting in greater focus and expanded field of vision. It’s not clear what the research entailed to produce these results.
The question now is whether the added abilities of gamers translate to real-world skills. ”We have to train people to be quick on their feet – agile problem solvers, agile thinkers – to be able to counteract and develop counter tactics to terrorists on the battlefield,” Perez said. “It’s really about human inventiveness and creativeness and being able to match wits with the enemy.”
The Army is now looking at video game training programs and learning tools, from games on laptops and PDAs to full-blown simulations, including one where players enter a virtual, cave-like environment and have to interact with avatars who are their teammates. Whatever it takes to increase the chances of troops coming home. [Department of Defense via GamePolitics]