Despite what your mother may have told you, spending a few hours with a fast-paced first person shooter like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 or Halo: Reach may actually make you a bit smarter – at least when it comes to making decisions quickly. Research from the University of Rochester suggests that doctors, soldiers, young entrepreneurs, day traders and everyone else can benefit from video games, a hobby that now occupies the leisure time of 68 percent of American households.
The research looked at two groups of students – one played the first-person shooters Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament, while the other played The Sims 2, a slow-paced simulator. Both played for 50 hours, then were asked to make quick decisions that tested both auditory and verbal reaction.
Those who played the fast-paced games were 25 percent quicker on average, and answered just as many questions correctly.
“[It] is not the case that the action game players are trigger-happy and less accurate: They are just as accurate and also faster,” Daphne Bavelier, one of the study’s authors, said. “Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time. If you are a surgeon or you are in the middle of a battlefield, that can make all the difference.”