Gamers are good at virtual surgery

Operation

This week, we argued that videogames should be taught in schools, because they make you better at shooting people’s faces off multitasking, thinking about abstract shapes and making rapid decisions. A new study suggests gaming might have a home in medical school too.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston pit resident medical students against video-game playing 10th graders in a battle to see who could perform virtual, robotic surgery simulation; doing things like suturing wounds. The results?

The gamers did just as well – and in some cases better – at the simulated surgery as the medical residents. Researchers suggest that could be because the unpredictability of gameplay in sports games and shooters is similar to surgery – and the quick-thinking that gaming fosters is a boon. And while it means all those hours on the PlayStation aren’t a waste of time, it doesn’t mean you should give up medical school to play games.

“I’m not encouraging [teenagers] to spend countless hours in front of the computer games,” says lead researcher Sam Kilic,"because our job is not to create the best surgeon ever or the best soldier ever … in this age group. They have to have the fundamental human being skills in their developing age.”

I already know that I’d be a great surgeon; I’ve poured countless hours in to the very realistic surgery simulator Trauma Centre on the Nintendo DS – and that’s all the training anybody really needs.

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Author:Geoffrey Tim

I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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