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I don't feel as though FPS games have affected me much in RL, although I've never tried firing a gun before. It's possible that playing these games has helped my navigation skills, but there's no way for me to tell for sure.

I do think I've learned things from video games, though they tend to be the ones in which I'm presented with complex choices that provoke me to consider alternative perspectives. For instance, Deus Ex and Hidden Agenda affected my views on politics and ethics, and Planescape: Torment confronted me with a variety of moral and philosophical dilemmas that I believe I learned something from. I'm also currently about halfway through Knights of the Old Republic II, which has made me think a lot about the ethics of charitable acts, among other things (the game was created by the developers of Torment, so go figure). These kinds of games are few and far between, though--I don't learn much from games that present black-and-white choices like Fable, though they certainly may be enjoyable to play.

Aside from that, I recall after playing The Sims 24/7 for about two weeks straight that I became extremely perceptive towards the physical arrangement of my living space, and how it affected the efficiency of my daily tasks. Suddenly I was wondering if I would be more productive if my fridge was closer to my countertop, or if my toilet was in a more central location. Obviously, a lot of these lines of thought were completely ridiculous, but I think there were times when this sort of perceptiveness did help me out.


Actually I think you're just looking TOO much in depth on this. You're looking at actual skills, directly linkable.

It's not that simple.

But when you use your brain, it's the same as using your body. You're exercising it, and learning how to better use it. You're actually becoming a more efficent thinker. Not all games affect the same part of the brain of course.

Fast-action games, tend to go directly to my brain. I forget I'm even controlling it. When I'm done playing, I find that my subconcious thought patterns are actually a lot clearer. I have an easier time thinking in general.

RPGs, on the other hand, tend to work the more abstract parts of the brain. I think about the cultures and socities in the game, and I find I have a much easier time comprehending our own.

It's really a use it or lose it thing, and VGs are some of the best things to help it. (Reading, on the other hand, I used to be an avid reader. I gave it up because with most books I read, when I was done, it left this void because my brain was used to working at a much slower level. I don't really like it.)


Playing Amplitude always helps me brush up on my awareness of music production. I'm no better at making music, but I'm more cognizant of how different tracks fit together and where they fit into the rhythm.


I agree with Karmakin - it's not so much the actual skills that get developed, more often its more general things like reflexes.

An FPS, for example, includes some important points of physics (more so in the more realistic games) - time delay between firing and hitting a target, kinetics when firing grenade launcher rounds or throwing grenades, using short bursts to minimise recoil. If you then started using firearms, experiences learned whilst playing games could provide valuable (perhaps even subconcious) reminders in the field - 'The target's walking right to left, 800m away; I'll fire half a meter ahead'; 'Fire in short bursts to minimise recoil'.

I think it's fair to say that reactions speed up as well.

But there are things you don't learn. I've not seen many games drop the round because of gravity at range, although in FPSs it wouldn't normally make much difference. Actually learning how to physically brace against recoil, or even how to reload or clear a jam, are things that would be vital in the field that I've never seen in a game...

Something that worries me is the possibility of learning things that we'd be better off not learning. For one thing, a particularly long session often results in me walking away, viewing the whole world as if it were part of the game I'd just been playing. Fortunately, this is rare and short-lived, but it's worrying to think that a few hours on a computer could actually be narrowing my mind...

I do also worry that years of playing PARANOIA has left me, well... paranoid. At work, I tend to think everything's a big conspiracy, and I've even given thought to plotting my boss' downfall on several occasions. But that probably reflects more on my place of work, given I don't get that way in other parts of my life!


Tablesaw:My third example was actually going to be Amplitude :). I'm a late-comer to that game (just picked it up a few weeks ago), so it's the game currently in my PS2. (As a side note, I'm about halfway through the Insane difficulty level).

I find myself way more thinking about the lines and different tracks used in songs. It made my reaction to songs much deeper than it was before I played it.

Zild:Yeah that's the sort of direct thing that people look for in "game learning". But that stuff really doesn't work. It's mostly just general brain goodness, and nothing really specific.


Hey Jane,

Check out the new book "everything bad is good for you". Makes a strong case that gamers (esp heavy ones) develop strong problem-solving, among other skills.

BTW I play Halo these days - I'm "Sex n Vylnce" - say hi if u see me.

Max L.



I am going to have to disagree with you about the FPS. First off, I do not believe that there is ANY game engine out there right now that can recreate the physics of reality. There is no way to synthesize the feeling of gravity pulling on your body or the weight of a firearm in your hand. These are factors that play a BIG roll in how you use a firearm in reality. I can think of very very very few things that you can transfer from a game into reality when it comes to firearms. Even your example or a target walking 800 meters away, what if the wind is blowing? Firing in short bursts? I would say that no matter how many virtual short bursts you shoot, there is no way that you can pick up a gun in reality and know how to fire it if you never have before. Clicking a button and pulling a trigger are two different actions in this case. In one case, when you gun fires the screen jumps, in the other the gun, your arms, and even your entire body can jump. Even the fact that you fire in short bursts seems trivial. You dont need a game to learn that. Anyone could tell you that before you pick up a gun and you have the knowledge right there, no need to play the game. I believe that just about anything that you are going to learn from a FPS will be considered trivial when it comes to transering to reality.

There are some good things to be learned though. Team based games (even fps) can teach you how to work together as a group, and lets you get to know your teamates better. I think Karmakin hit it dead on though. I really agree you Karm about the fast action games too. in high school, I used to study spanish vocab and play fighting games at the same time. Because playing the games and useing the moves and busting out the combos was all second nature I was "reacting" to the game while concentrating on study.


What, Counter-Strike no longer applies? ;P


Adam Carstens

Also check out our book, "Got Game." It's all about how gamers think differently because of video games. You can read more about it here: www.gotgamebook.com

Adam Carstens


Mstirling, I don't disagree with you, so much as present a slightly different point. I'm not talking here about 'learning' as in discovering, but 'learning' as in it becoming second nature. Yes, all it takes is one person to say 'fire in short bursts', but in the heat of the moment - especially if under fire - people don't remember every little thing they've been taught. I believe that a fairly accurate game could make such things second nature, and having such experience under fire even in a game would probably prove more valuable than a few training sessions in real life; the adrenaline is just as real, as can the fear of being hit (if the game is immersive enough).

As for the point about physical effects playing on the body, I must agree with you. It was a point that I had originally intended to make - the more physical an action is, the harder it is to learn from a computer game. Learning to perceive the environment and quickly decide how to react to it, which relies on sensing (typically eyes, maybe ears) and processing by the brain, is something games seem to make us better at. Actually performing the actions, which rely on physical co-ordination, technic and muscle performance, is something that games cannot help us with, and I'd suspect something that games make us worse at. Try pressing left and the square key next time somebody takes a swing at you in real life!

Oddly enough, though, the initial point about the weight of a firearm not having an effect strikes me as the best example of where physical effects HAVE been modelled in computer games, at least in arcade games. Holding them (especially pistols) up for just a few minutes can be tiring enough, and they're only made of plastic!


There is a lot of hype surrounding the effects of video games on children, but I haven't been able to find out much about the effects on adults.

If games do change our perception of reality, I wonder if there is a limited timeframe in which they can alter our perception. For example, languages are best learnt between the age of 10-14 years, after which stage it gets increasingly difficult. Languages also instill a certain type of sensibility, like sensitivity toward time, gender, class, nature and even colours.

I wonder if there is a limited time for our perception to be altered. If you started gaming at 35, would it have the same effects as it would on children (who are essentially a clean slate)?

Technology in general is sometimes said to be like another language, if so, surely the kind of games we play would influence our sensibility toward a particular way of thinking?

I think excessive play can alter our perception of reality and it definitely helps with strategy and hand eye coordination but when compared to traditional games and sports I don't think there is much difference eg. Football would teach you similar skills (although may also cause a few more injuries!), although it can't modify your perception of things such as weightlessness as physical games are bound to the constraints of the physical world.


OK so I am not QUITE sure this goes along with the theme of the thread, but I do think this story (which is apparently not a hoax) points to just how deeply games are affecting some of us, tho' not ME, surely!

As the previous poster 'mishyr' said "excessive play can alter our perception of reality": indeed it seems excessive play can utterly blur the line between fantasy and reality...

...The metaphysical implications are making my head hurt. I'm going to play Halo online and go to bed...

original news source:

Chinese gamer sentenced to life

A Shanghai online gamer has been given a suspended death sentence for killing a fellow gamer.

Qiu Chengwei stabbed Zhu Caoyuan in the chest when he found out he had sold his virtual sword for 7,200 Yuan (473).

The sword, which Mr Qiu had lent to Mr Zhu, was won in the popular online game Legend of Mir 3.

Attempts to take the dispute to the police failed because there is currently no law in China to protect virtual property.

Appeal plea

Buying and selling gaming artefacts such as imaginary weapons is a booming business on the web.

The internet games section of Ebay saw more than $9m (5m) in trades in 2003.

While China has no laws to deal with the theft of virtual property, South Korea has a section of its police force that investigates in-game crime.

Dragon sabre

According to the Chinese press, more and more gamers are seeking justice through the courts over stolen weapons and credits accumulated in games.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

um and yeah could this page support html or what?

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