And the Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Study Says FPS Players Have Faster Decision-Making Skills

Nathan Grayson

Sorry, folks. If you're at a loss about what your college major should be, how best to finally approach that cute girl who works over in human resources, or which Star Wars prequel is the absolute worst, playing a couple rounds of TF2 probably won't bequeath unto you some sort of life-altering revelation. But we make hundreds of tiny decisions – usually based on visual or aural cues – each day, and according to a study from the University of Rochester , fast-paced first-person shooters can rewire our brains to get the lead out before we, among other things, die horrifically gruesome deaths.

"Decisions are never black and white," said researcher Daphne Bavelier. "The brain is always computing probabilities. As you drive, for instance, you may see a movement on your right, estimate whether you are on a collision course, and based on that probability make a binary decision: brake or don't brake."

In a test of 18-to-25-year-olds who didn't typically play videogames, Bavelier and co. found that those in their Unreal Tournament and Call of Duty 2 group made such split-second decisions up to 25 percent faster than those in their Sims 2 group. Too much speed, though, makes us sloppy, right? Wrong, surprisingly enough.

"It's not the case that the action game players are trigger-happy and less accurate: They are just as accurate and also faster," Bavelier said. "Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time. If you are a surgeon or you are in the middle of a battlefield, that can make all the difference."

So then, surgeons, soldiers, and race car drivers of the world, look out, because gamers are gunning for your jobs. And here's the kicker: they're probably better at them than you.

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