Tuesday, January 26, 2010

U.S. Navy: Video Games are good for you

H/T to the NeoGAF forums

"Think interactive video games are a waste of time or more suited for children? Think again. Research by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) indicates that video games can help adults process information much faster and improve their abilities to reason and solve problems. Dr. Ray Perez, ONR program officer, discussed video game-induced “fluid intelligence” on the Jan 20 webcast."

Other notable excerpts:

"...Early indications suggest that cognitive improvements from video games can last up to two and half years, Perez said, but he admitted that so far the results have been relegated to observations and measurements in a controlled laboratory environment..."

“The major question is that once you’ve increased these perceptual abilities and cognitive abilities, do they transfer to everyday tasks,” he said, “and how long do they continue to influence the person working on these everyday tasks?”

For the record, this is hardly the only instance of the scientific method demonstrating the health benefits of video gaming; one such benefit that goes unmentioned in this particular study (and, thus, earns a peculiar mention here) is accentuated eyesight. Personally, I think my prolonged hours of video gaming have done wonders for my hand-eye coordination, though that's probably the only physical health benefit I derived from them. The intellectual and spiritual formation these games provided, however, was invaluable. The artistic imagery of some of the games also gave me a taste of the transcendent, instilling in me (during those precious formative teenage years, no less!) the idea that beauty was, in fact, NOT in the eye of the beholder. I learned a bit about storytelling and characterization, as well; as a budding English major at a major Catholic University, it is no exaggeration to say that I owe my interest in the subject at least partially to the video games I enjoyed well into my teenage years...and still enjoy, albeit with less frequency, to this day.

That being said, the social isolation and addictive potential of these same games also contributed at times to a kind of spiritual desolation; I will be the first to admit that I failed to employ moderation during my more "hardcore" gaming years, and no amount of acquired ocular aptitude can replace wasted time (not to mention neglected friendships, a deteriorating physique, and a regrettably over-extended introversion). Too much of a good thing is, well, too much of a good thing. Games became my god, and that was...well, not healthy at all.

I sincerely hope the Navy Officers in this study don't fall into the same trap I did. There's something about video games and an incarnational spirituality that really...doesn't quite mesh. They can't replace love of neighbor, even if they do teach the value of the practice of this or any other particular virtue. They can impart wisdom and knowledge, but they can't make you practice it. They can depict, and even bring to life, Christ on the cross, in a way peculiarly unique to the medium, no less. They can never, however, replace Him.

1 comment:

Michael said...

The Navy also likes it when you play war games no less. They make you go "ZOMG THAT IZ DEH BEZTEZT HUR HUR DUR HUR" and then they suck you into a lifetime of military service. (Not that that is a bad thing, but when the military is run poorly (now) then its not a very wise idea) I was almost recruited and it was funny to see and then I asked the liklihood of being betrayed from Mew to and the guy looked at me stunned and walked away. good times.