New Medical Research Gives Gamers Bragging Rights

on February 19, 2012 3:30 PM

Most gamers have, at one time or another, been accosted by some nosy teacher/parent/friend of a parent/idiot who insists that video games are, on top of being morally bankrupt and useless, bad for your health.  Gamers have been mythbusting that nonsense one piece at a time for a while now, and it looks like we just got some new ammunition.

A recent study conducted in Vancouver shows that first person shooters can actually improve certain eyesight deficiencies.  Scientists had a group of adults with cataracts partake in an experiment which required them to play 40 hours of Medal of Honor over the course of a month — two hours a day, five days a week — to measure the effects of fast paced action games on eyesight.

The results were extremely positive. Psychologist Daphne Maurer, part of the team who conducted the experiment, said, “All of them showed substantial improvements in eyesight. They also came to see objects with lower contrast, and more subtle differences among faces and moving objects.”

This challenges the commonly held view that video games lead to myopia and other ocular maladies. Maurer’s research builds on that of others who found that Unreal Tournament was able to help with lazy-eye disorder. Add that to other studies which have shown that games can help with both pain relief and post-traumatic stress disorders, and you’ve got a substantial argument in favor of video games as therapeutic devices.

After the experiment concluded, Maurer announced her intentions to develop a computer game specifically intended to improve eyesight, but without the inclusion of guns and violence, as she “[doesn’t] favour making people play first-person shooters.” While her intentions are noble, gamers who suffer from eye disorders and don’t mind playing violent video games need not concern themselves; shoot away, secure in the knowledge that it is for the purposes of self-improvement.

 /  Staff Writer (Weekends)
Sto Austin is the man. Period. When not saving the world from the next generation of Metal Gears or throwing hadoukens at his detractors, chances are he's writing about someone else doing something similarly epic, possibly whilst smoking a cigar. He enjoys games with a strong emphasis on story, which typically fall into the RPG, Action/Adventure, or Horror genres, though he also has a soft spot for fighting games and has been known, when feeling saucy, to shred on some Guitar Hero or Rock Band. He currently divides his time between Florida and Maine, tromping up and down the East coast according to the whims of fate and fortune.