Rock on with the action games – they make your vision better

I don’t play the action games like I used to. The original Quake (I so pwned with the off-hand grappling hook mod) and Unreal Tournament (still the best of the bunch, although UT2004 is awesome) were my favorites. By my slowing reaction time (as a 36 year old gamer, I’m ancient by twitch-game standards) and frequent hand tremors leave me unable to compete against most of the folks that play shooters. However, if I could/did still play them, I would apparently benefit from improved visual acuity after playing (bonus shortened URL available as well).

Video games that contain high levels of action, such as Unreal Tournament, can actually improve your vision.

Researchers at the University of Rochester have shown that people who played action video games for a few hours a day over the course of a month improved by about 20 percent in their ability to identify letters presented in clutter–a visual acuity test similar to ones used in regular ophthalmology clinics.

In essence, playing video game improves your bottom line on a standard eye chart.

. . .

Bavelier and graduate student Shawn Green tested college students who had played few, if any, video games in the last year. “That alone was pretty tough,” says Green. “Nearly everybody on a campus plays video games.”

At the outset, the students were given a crowding test, which measured how well they could discern the orientation of a “T” within a crowd of other distracting symbols-a sort of electronic eye chart. Students were then divided into two groups. The experimental group played Unreal Tournament, a first-person shoot-’em-up action game, for roughly an hour a day. The control group played Tetris, a game equally demanding in terms of motor control, but visually less complex.

After about a month of near-daily gaming, the Tetris players showed no improvement on the test, but the Unreal Tournament players could tell which way the “T” was pointing much more easily than they had just a month earlier.

And there are actual real-world uses for this, if the improvement can be carried over into treatment for certain visual problems. Play a game, improve your vision. I’d sign up for it. (via Joystiq)

[tags]Action games/shooters improve visual acuity, Play a game to see better?[/tags]