Not only are video games good for your brain, playing action video games improves your ability to make the right decision, and to do so faster, according to a new study at the University of Rochester. Take that, Jack Thompson (and legions of "they'll rot your brain" parents).
The study didn't actually test driving competence in relation to video game playing, but the idea is easily analogized to on-road performance. Testing of two groups of 18-25 year-olds revealed that those that played fast-paced action games like Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament were better able to make quick decisions and answer questions--up to 25 percent faster than the slow-paced gaming group.
But it's not just quickness that comes from the action gaming. Accuracy was just as good as the slow-paced group. In other words, the action gamers were able to evaluate the information presented and make the right choice more quickly--skills essential for good defensive driving on the open road.
The researchers even made the driving analogy themselves. Daphne Bavalier, author of the study, said, "Decisions are never black and white. The brain is always computing probabilities. As you drive, for instance, you may see a movement on your right, estimate whether you are on a collision course, and based on that probability make a binary decision: brake or don't brake." Playing fast-paced video games, presumably including driving games, will improve your ability to make the right decision.
Game on, people. For our sake if not your own.