Games in Healthcare

Video Games Help Improve Certain Life Skills

A SurgeonStudies presented at the 2008 Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association have uncovered the benefits of certain types of video games in strengthening useful life skills. They were found to not only improve dexterity, but also problem-solving abilities and scientific thinking.

One of the papers, presented by Fordham University psychologist Fran C. Blumberg, PhD, and Sabrina S. Ismailer, MSED studied the problem-solving abilities of 5-7 grade students while playing a newly introduced video game.

As the kids played, they were asked to think aloud for 20 minutes. Researchers examined their problem-solving abilities by noting the kind of cognitive, goal-oriented, game-oriented, emotional and contextual statements they made. Read More...

"Younger children seem more interested in setting short-term goals for their learning in the game compared to older children who are more interested in simply playing and the actions of playing," said Blumberg in a news release. "Thus, younger children may show a greater need for focusing on small aspects of a given problem than older children, even in a leisure-based situation such as playing video games."

Another research paper focused on studies involving high school and college students and laparoscopic surgeons that looked at their video game usage and its effects. In this literature review, Iowa State University psychologist Douglas Gentile, PhD, and William Stone, BS, confirmed the findings of other research which concluded that those who played violent games were more hostile, less forgiving and believed violence to be normal compared to those who played nonviolent games. On the other hand, players of "prosocial" games got into fewer fights in school and were more helpful to other students.

The study of 33 laparoscopic surgeons found that those who played video games were 27 percent faster at advanced surgical procedures and made 37 percent fewer errors compared to those who did not play video games, said Gentile. Advanced video game skills were significant hints of suturing abilities, found the researchers, regardless of sex, years of medical training and number of laparoscopic surgeries performed.

A second study of 303 laparoscopic surgeons (82 percent men; 18 percent women) also found that surgeons who played video games requiring spatial skills and hand dexterity were significantly faster on their first and subsequent attempts at performing drill testing than those who did not the play video games first.
 
"The big picture is that there are several dimensions on which games have effects, including the amount they are played, the content of each game, what you have to pay attention to on the screen, and how you control the motions,"