Did this title make you do a double-take? It wasn’t clickbait, this is actually true. Research studies have shown that video gaming greatly improves fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination that can give you an edge when taking on the profession of surgery.
This is a revolutionary discovery, not just because it opens up a career path for video game lovers: but because it further proves how important video games are for healthy brain development in children. Too long have video games been demonized as distractions, or addictions when they are contributing to real-world value. Video games are a booming industry, and even if you don’t go on to become an e-sports athlete or streamer, your skill in video games will inform and build on your skills and prowess in other industries.
Let’s find out more about this incredible research study that linked the connection between playing video games and being a good surgeon.
The Research behind Video Games and Surgery
This link was brought to focus when Dr. James Rosser participated in a study that was conducted by Beth Israel Medical Center. He shared that he plays video games for several hours a week, games like Super Money Ball. This research study was organized by a collaboration of Iowa University’s National Institute on Media and the Family.
The kind of surgery that is most similar to playing video games is laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopic surgery involves using a joystick and a camera to conduct just about any complicated procedure in any part of the body, and it’s an extremely important aspect of all surgeries. Since surgery can be minute and precise and located within the interiors of the body, it’s simply not possible for surgeons to have a direct view of the organs they are dealing with. Laparoscopic surgery allows a magnified view and requires the surgeon to be great at hand-eye coordination.
How does it work? Laparoscopic surgery aims to make as minimal intrusions as possible, which means making very tiny incisions in the body and inserting a micro camera. The feed from this micro camera is projected onto a larger screen and the surgeon will then use remote-controlled tools to perform the surgery.
If it sounds incredibly difficult to you, you’re absolutely right in your hunch. Dr. Rosser actually compared laparoscopic surgery to trying to tie your shoelaces with a pair of three-foot-long chopsticks. Incredibly difficult and requires the highest focus and skillful hand-eye coordination.
Being skilled at video games can improve this hand-eye coordination, and reduce the chance of errors. This can save countless lives.
The numbers might shock you. The research study found that if doctors spend at least three hours in a week playing video games, that allows them to make 37% fewer mistakes during laparoscopic surgery and actually helps them conduct it 27% faster. Just three hours of video games can have this powerful impact on surgeons who are saving lives.
Fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and reaction time are three factors that determine how well you perform laparoscopic surgery. The feel for using similar technological devices is also something that cannot be understated. There were around 30 doctors who participated in the study and all confirmed that there is a strong correlation between video games and laparoscopic surgery.
Dr. Rosser has now developed a video game that doctors and surgeons can play before they enter the operating room. He has called this video game Top Gun. The video game serves a lot of purposes: namely giving the surgeons a chance to ‘warm up’. Have you ever realized that the first video game you play is sometimes the worst? We all take time to get used to the technology and get our brains accustomed to hand-eye coordination.
Surgeons cannot afford to make mistakes. They do not have a Play Again button, and Game Over is much more serious for them. That’s why playing a specially designed video game before laparoscopic surgery can greatly improve their readiness and skill for what awaits them.
It also helps to calm nerves and increase focus, and prepares the brain for what is about to come. Getting better at video games and improving your coordination and agility skills will greatly impact how well you perform in the operating room.
Other Benefits of Video Games
It’s not just surgeons that benefit from playing a few hours of video games every week. Even if you don’t plan to ever enter into the medical health profession, you can reap the benefits of video games.
One of the most well-known and important skills that are imparted to a video gamer are visual-spatial skills. Video games often include the need to navigate and explore a certain territory to complete tasks, and this allows them to have a greater understanding of space and movement.
This can greatly improve understanding of direction, and has direct benefits in industries like architecture, construction and design. Understanding space is a greater skill than we think.
Without video games, regular people only think of space from their perspective. You likely think of your neighborhood in directions: go straight and then take a left. But when someone has played video games and understands spatial dimensions, they imagine their neighborhood from an aerial view and can contemplate space from multiple perspectives.
Before video games, the only way you would’ve gotten an aerial view would be to actually travel to a height, the top of a building, or in a helicopter.
Problem Solving and Critical Thinking
There are very few video games that don’t involve a task, a quest, or a problem to be solved. Video games are never too easy: they are specially designed to give the player a challenge. In return, the player is rewarded for solving the problem with a new high score, a new level, and/or bragging rights.
This is a very important problem-solving skill. Not only does it help the individual use their learnings to tackle real-world problems from multiple perspectives, but it also creates greater motivation and determination. Video gamers don’t easily back down from a challenge, since their brains are trained to constantly solve tougher and tougher problems. As they level up, they are faced with challenges with increasing complexity. This is a great skill to have in life, and prepares them to expect difficult challenges and face them head on!
Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. While video games have an incredible effect on brain development and motor skills, they can also be harmful if indulged in excessive quantities. Video games are also very stimulating for the brain and can cause dependencies since other activities tend to be much less stimulating. Teaching young children to balance and consume video games in moderation is key, and will help them become wholesome and skilled adults.