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A View from Henry Jenkins

Scalpel, Sponge, Joy Stick...

ABC News last week reported a new study which shows that video game players make the best surgeons. To be specific, researchers with Beth Israel and the National Institute on Media and the Family at Iowa State University found that…

  • April 8, 2004

ABC News last week reported a new study which shows that video game players make the best surgeons. To be specific, researchers with Beth Israel and the National Institute on Media and the Family at Iowa State University found that doctors who spent at least three hours a week playing video games made about 37 percent fewer mistakes in laparoscopic surgery and performed the task 27 percent faster than their counterparts who did not play video games.

The idea that video game play improves hand/eye coordination has long been a cliche among defenders of the recreation, but this research gives some substance to those claims.

According to one of the researchers, this study “landmarks the arrival of Generation X into medicine.” They are working to develop a special game which surgeons can do to warm up and hone their skills before entering the operating room.

Another recent study found that men 18-34 devote 6 percent and teenage males devote 15 percent of the time they spend with media each day to playing video games. We knew it was high, but we were surprised to learn that it was this high,” says Robert DeFelice, vice president-client service at Knowledge
Networks/SRI, which conducted the research. Now, all of those moms and dads can sit back and watch it happen, comfortable in the knowledge that their son or daughter may grow up to be a surgeon one day. :-)

Television executives, however, have more to worry about since the increased time spent playing games seems to be coming out of the amount of time this highly desired demographic spends watching network programming and the results have been noticeable through some dramatic drops in Neilsen Ratings this year.

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