Monday, May 17, 2010

Media Monday: Video Games and Visual Coordination

According to a 2003 National Geographic article, researchers that the University of New York in Rochester found that playing action video games conferred on players have better visual skills than non-gamers. Gamers were better at picking out visual detail in real-life situations (noticing the playing child on the side of the street while driving, for example), and so responded faster to such stimuli. They were more aware of their overall environment, suggesting that video games could be useful as therapy for the visually impaired or as training for soldiers preparing for combat in uncharted places.

In short, the study showed "enhanced allocation of spatial attention over the visual field" among gamers. However, no indication is given in the article as to the preferred activities of the non-gamer control group. I would wonder how gamers would compare to hunters or survivalists. Granted, those are pretty small groups, but in a natural environment excellent spacial skills are necessary for humans. What activities in the natural environment does this digital training mimic? I think this is an excellent lead for further anthropological study.

In any case, Aspies are often excel in visual learning, are often drawn to video games and other visual entertainment, and are easily distracted or overwhelmed by visual stimuli in their living environment. With proper guidance and training, could this collection of tendencies and the presence of a sensory sensitivity be turned into an advantage?

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