Playing action-based video games may boost the players’ ability to coordinate visual information with their motor control – a skill critical to many real-world behaviours including driving, says new research.
The findings showed that playing some types of video games can confer benefits for specific visual abilities such as sensitivity to contrast and visuo-spatial attention.
“The research shows that playing easily accessible action video games can be a cost-effective tool to help people improve essential visuomotor-control skills used for driving,” said lead researcher Li Li, Associate Professor at New York University in Shanghai, China.
Experienced action gamers showed much greater precision in keeping to their lane and showed less deviation from centre in the face of increasing headwinds, when compared to the participants with little to no action video game experience.
To establish a causal link between action video games and visuomotor control skills, the team recruited participants who had no action video gaming experience to take part in a training study.
They then compared the visuomotor abilities of players who had played at least 5 hours per week over the previous 6 months to participants who had negligible action video game experience.
The participants were randomly assigned to either an action video game group or a control group, and they completed a total of 10 1-hour training sessions.
The data showed that playing “Mario Kart,” a fast-paced action video game, improved participants’ visuomotor control skills on the target dot task after five hours of training.
Those who played “Roller Coaster Tycoon”, a non-action strategy game, showed no such improvement over time.
For novice drivers, training with driving video games may be more helpful, the researchers suggested in the work published in the journal Psychological Science.