Playing Video Games Can Make You A Better Searcher

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Image: Belinda Hankins Miller

According to new research, car racing video games, like the one seen here, help improve visual searching. Image: Belinda Hankins Miller

Want to be a great doctor or scientist? Make sure you play video games.

New research shows that certain video games can help people “find things” better and faster.

For instance, if a doctor is looking for something on an x-ray, or if a scientist is looking at a satellite image—they may be able to do it better if they’ve “trained” by playing video games.

Certain video games, like driving games, can improve a person’s “visual search skills.” That’s the ability to see something that’s hidden in the middle of a confusing field of things. Like finding “Waldo.”

Researchers at the University of Toronto studied three groups of people: 20 people who played a shooting game called Medal of Honor, 20 people who played the driving game Need for Speed, and 20 people who played a puzzle game called Ballance.

The people who played the shooting and driving games became “faster and more accurate” at searching for things, says Sijing Wu, the lead author of the study.

The people who played the puzzle game did not improve their ability to find things faster.

Researchers also compared video game players against people who didn’t play video games. They found that the experienced players were better at visual searching.

Past studies have found that other aspects of a person’s ability to see well are also enhanced by video games, says U of T psychology professor Ian Spence.

Related link
There is more information about this research on the University of Toronto website here.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
The article mentions two professions that would require a person to be a good searcher. What are some other jobs that might require a person to be good at finding things with their vision?

Reading Prompt: Responding to and Evaluating Texts
Sometimes journalists will stretch the truth slightly to lure the reader in to an article.

Re-read the first line of this article:

Want to be a great doctor or scientist? Make sure you play video games.

Do you think this is an accurate statement of what the research showed, or does it stretch the truth a bit?

Primary
Express personal opinions about ideas presented in texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Junior
Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Intermediate
Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence from the texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).

Grammar Feature: Contaractions
A contraction is one word that’s been created by blending two. In fact, in the sentence you just read, I blended the words “that” and “is” to create the contraction, “that’s.” Contractions are used quite often when people are speaking. However, when contractions are used in writing they create an informal tone (relaxed). For that reason, when writing essays or applying for jobs, contractions shouldn’t be used.

On the lines below, write the contraction that goes with each pair.

Must not ___________________________
Has not ____________________________
She would __________________________
What will ___________________________
You are _____________________________
Will not ____________________________
Let us ______________________________
I have ______________________________