First off, I’m proud of you LifeHacker. As a current blogger and previous WebMaster of the UM student organization Consider Magazine (, I think the point-counterpoint approach towards investigating these types of developing issues.

But with that shout-out to the sophisticated and intelligent publication on campus aside, I think Alan Henry brings up some very interesting points about the “entertainment” side of videogames. Our class focus is clearly on the side of educational value, but the fact that we actually play real videogames should be factored into their inherent educational value.

The article starts out by pointing out a recent Nature article which talks about how “brain-training” videogames have very little affect on actual cognitive abilities. I think the author is correct in stating that this should be VERY CAREFULLY looked at. Within several of his Counterpoints, he showed that there could easily be a wide array of affects that playing videogames could have, including learning a foreign language and helping with certain analytical skills.

For the most part, I think I agree with his overall conclusion. For example, in my quest for becoming a Starcraft pro, I have really increased my ability to balance juggle mental tasks while still consciously focusing on the major goal at hand (whether it be building an army, or crushing the opponent’s economy).

And even more pertinent than that, I started playing first-person shooters recently in order to improve my hand-eye coordination. Why did I do this? Well, I want to pursue a medical career and as any med student knows, medical school splits off into surgery and non-surgery rather quickly. With that in mind, if I happened to want to do surgery, I would need extremely precise and well-planned hand-eye coordination, very similar to the fast-faced jumping around and careful aiming seen in many high-speed first person shooters.

Perhaps later on in the semester, I’ll try to dig up some studies about how there has been correlational studies between FPS-playing surgeons vs. non-FPS-playing surgeons. If I remember the statistics correctly, the margin of proficiency is very eye-opening.

So all in all, do I think conventional video games have a place in day to day enhancement? Sure. But at the stage they are at right now, I think they will have to be part of the stress-management/having-fun category rather than vocational and skill-training stages.



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