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Nature29 May 2003

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Computer games: The broad view

Few people have a good word for computer or video games except gamers and software providers. And the tendency towards violence in game play attracts plenty of criticism. But now comes the finding that extensive game-playing can improve a range of attention-related visual skills. Video games, it seems, can do you some good. True, most of the games feature mindless 'run and kill' tactics, but it may be precisely those tactics that stretch the visuo-motor system in ways that alter visual skills as the player detects new enemies, keeps track of old ones and avoids getting killed again. In the experiments reported this week, experts at games such as Spider-Man, 007, Super Mario Cart and Grand Theft Auto 3 also excelled in tests of field of view, enumeration and other attributes, and players new to the games also improved their skills.

letters to nature
Action video game modifies visual selective attention
Nature 423, 534–537 (2003); doi:10.1038/nature01647
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