Remember when our parents would always say we'd burn our eyes out if we played too many video games? Well, while it certainly remains true that sitting too close to a video screen for extended periods of time can and often is harmful, it appears there is a benefit. Well, if you like to play shooters, that is.
According to a recent article by The Australian , laying the smackdown on a group of baddies can actually improve your vision. Evidently, some of the more hectic action titles like FPSs "provide excellent training for what eye doctors call contrast sensitivity." If you're not aware, the latter is "the ability to notice tiny changes in shades of gray against a uniform background," and yeah, this is something we all use on a daily basis. Age has a detrimental effect on it – typical – but in this study published in Nature Neuroscience, the researchers have stumbled upon "a previous unsuspected adaptability in the brain," and it could be utilized to people's advantage. Said Daphne Bavelier, professor at the University of Rochester in New York and the lead researcher for this project:
"This is not a skill that people were supposed to get better at by training. It was something that we corrected for at the level of the optics of the eye – to get better contrast detection you get glasses or laser surgery. What we found is that even without this correction you can help your brain make better use of whatever information is received from your retina."
Follow the link above to learn the specifics of the study, but the conclusion is that those who were exposed to action games performed 50% better in "detecting contrast" than those who weren't. They even addressed the possibility that the participants in this study may have been gamers to begin with, and hence, they had better contrast sensitivity to start. In the end, the results indicate "long-lasting gains" and that the effects may be limitless; in other words, you can't have too much of a good thing. In response to this very question – can you indeed have too much of a good thing? – Bavelier finished with this:
"For your visual system, probably not. For your social life, perhaps."
Man…as true as that is, they just can't find a way to avoid taking a jab at the gamers, huh?