Allstate — the company that puts you in good hands — apparently believes gamers have good hands too, and it may offer reduced insurance rates to gamers as a result.
Allstate has begun drinking Nintendo’s Brain Age Kool-Aid, hypothesizing that gamers have improved mental agility over non-gamers and, as a result, have improved driving response times. This, in turn, could lead to better driving safety records, which could result in fewer insurance claims that Allstate would need to pay.
For the time being, Allstate is simply testing its hypothesis in older gamers. In its a pilot program called InSight, Allstate is providing 100,000 Pennsylvania customers ages 50-75 with a specialized computer games, with the games’ developer monitoring the total number of hours the drivers play. In true experimental fashion, the group’s accident rates will then be compared to a control group.
Tom Warden, an assistant vice president at Allstate, says people in their 50s and 60s have the lowest accident rates of all drivers, but the rate shoots up again in the mid-60s. Warden hopes the gaming experiment will improve older drivers’ brain fitness, and he notes that Allstate recommends at least 10 hours of game playing (“training”).
The games being tested in the pilot program are not akin to Halo, Metal Gear Solid or Final Fantasy. In fact, they’re far from it — something more along the lines of a Popcap Games title or something you’d find on Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network or WiiWare.
In one game, called Jewel Diver, players track underwater jewels that are hidden underneath fish a la the Three Card Monte card game. When the fish stop swimming, players click on the fish hiding the jewel. Sounds simple, but as Brain Age has shown, it doesn’t take much to keep our simple minds attentive and sharp.
Allstate is running the program in Pennsylvania this year, but it plans to decide in 2009 whether to roll it out in other states.