For those of you who don’t know who Eduard Punset is, he’s a Spanish¬†renaissance¬†man. Lawyer, economist, politician, author, and a scientific popularizer he’s the¬†epitome¬†of what a man should aspire to be by his ripe age of 74. I don’t plan on having the same professions but I’d like to achieve as much as I can within my talents and desires, oh, getting to his age and still be able to play PacMan… bliss!

Why am I writing about this guy you ask? Well the above video was posted on his blog where he¬†analyzes¬†the benefits of children growing up playing video games. I just new there had to be a reason I’m so damn smart! HAHA! The real brainchild behind the research is Marc Prensky who wrote a book called “¬°No me molestes, mam√°; estoy aprendiendo!” (Don’t bother me mom! I’m learning!) Punset is a very distinguished figure who has spent the latter half of his life popularizing and promoting technology and our entrance into the digital age.

Punset mentions some interesting data, apparently in the 50s we spent on average 25,000 hours reading but now we spend only 5000 hours reading and twice that watching videos,¬†television, cell phones, and video games. Society typically has given video games a stigma of useless and lacking educative value. Since his blog is in¬†Spanish¬†I’ll translate the meaty part for you¬†English¬†speakers.

It is urgent to tell you that we were deeply mistaken. They call us “digital immigrants” and we call them, “digital natives.” However, the digital natives have everything to gain by learning the skills to survive in societies of tomorrow. If they re-learn to use the identical systems we do, not only will they not find work, but, worse, will be unhappy. The differences between the two groups go well beyond what people think: ¬†”Different individual experiences indicates different brains”, scientists now say.

A great surgeon at Beth Israel Hospital said: “I use exactly the same eye coordination and hand movements when I operate as when I play video games.” It’s amazing to note that surgeons experienced in video games make about 40 percent fewer operating errors than those who never had that digital experience.

Apparently, young people who like video games and electronic¬†computer programs learn activities¬†like flying planes, driving fast cars, building neighborhoods and practice medicine or veterinary medicine. But it’s not just that, it has been shown that, in addition to expanding the visual horizons and senses in general, they also learn to identify the most important factors and discard the¬†auxiliary.

Young people who are allowed to play with video games that require the attention of many factors learn more quickly than others to distinguish the essential from the important, to focus on what really counts and do without lesser tasks. There are those, poor things, that have to unconsciously¬†trust their dreams to digest trivialities ¬†and somehow will remind them what to remember in the long-term. Computer and video game consoles do the same to the letter, they call it “selective visual attention.”

What else? Children who are fortunate enough to be allowed to entertain themselves with video games learn by trial and error to develop strategies to overcome obstacles. For those who seek a military vocation will be better off from what the information they learned to value coming from multiple sources, the specialists call this “situational awareness”, which over recent years has made educators and philosophers to devise a “multidisciplinary innovation strategy.” Today it is impossible to innovate without resorting to the multidisciplinary and it’s¬†impossible¬†to be familiar with it without games.

Obviously these studies are based on games that actually require some precision and control and not “Hello Kitty Online” but it is interesting nonetheless. I could totally see how Tetris improves puzzle solving or how a strategy game like StarCraft helps you analyze a situation quickly and come up with the best solution. I’ll admit, I think I’m pretty good at improvising ad-hoc, it’s definitely got me out of quite a few binds in my job.


Tags: , ,
Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>