Grab the controller and let’s go! It looks like all that time you spent dodging banana peels and turtle shells on Rainbow Road is finally going to pay off. Research–yes, real research–has shown that playing driving and action video games can actually improve your real-life driving. Hooray!
Researchers at the University of Hong Kong studied the effects that playing action and non-action video games can have on visuomotor-control (i.e. hand-eye-coordination). ‘Action’ being driving (Mario Kart!) and first-person shooter games; ‘non-action’ being games like The Sims and Roller Coaster Tycoon. Participants with no action game experience played an action or non-action game for 10 one-hour sessions. Those who played the action game had improved success on a driving simulator, while the non-actioners had no improvement.
We’re not talking about a tiny improvement to ease your mind about playing video games so much. The effects were so notable that the researchers suggest playing a driving game for just five hours can be a ‘cost-effective tool to help people improve essential visuomotor-control skills used for driving.’ The study shows that even experienced drivers could benefit from a few laps around the raceway.
Surprisingly little research has been done on the real-life benefits of playing video games, but now that someone’s finally done it, it looks like science is practically telling us to play video games to become better drivers. Okay, we’ll take it.
So maybe it’s not so bad when your kids won’t get off the couch and want to race each other on Mario Kart all day. At least in a few years, you’ll have some exceptionally skilled drivers on your hands.