Drivers may be able to improve their skills behind the wheel by playing action video
games, according to a new study.
“Our model-driven analysis revealed that although different action video games have
different effects on the sensorimotor system underlying visuomotor control, action
gaming in general improves the responsiveness of the sensorimotor system to input
error signals,” the authors wrote.
Researchers performed multiple experiments comparing action gamers who had played
an average of five hours a week over the past six months and non-action gamers.
They studied the performance of the two groups in a driving simulation and found the
action gamers did a better job staying in their lane.
They also looked at the two groups’ performance controlling a moving target on a computer
screen with a joystick. Again, the action gamers performed better than their counterparts.
To prove causality, they randomly assigned non-action gamers to train on action games
or non-action video games for 10 hours. The action gamers played a driving game in
one experiment and a first-person-shooter (FPS) game in another.
Visuomotor control skills improved among both action groups but not in non-action
gamers. Researchers found there was a difference in the specific skills improved after
playing the driving game compared to the FPS game, even at five hours of training.
“The differing effects of driving and FPS video games on the sensorimotor system underlying
visuomotor control suggest that for experienced drivers, who have stable control but
need to improve their ability to predict input error signals, training with FPS rather
than driving video games is more effective,” authors wrote. “In contrast, for novice
drivers, who are still struggling with obtaining stable control, training with driving
rather than FPS video games is more helpful.”