Home > Uncategorized > Video Games and Surgeons

Video Games and Surgeons

Think you’re good at COD and Assassin’s Creed (I’m beter)? Maybe you should invest in a life-changing career in Surgery. Yep, I said it surgery. According to a study done a few years ago, surgeons and surgeon residents who reported on a quiz that they played videogames frequently or during their off time were actually better at laparoscopic surgery than those who were recorded as not playing videogames frequently.

The subjects recorded their individual videogame playing habits on a quiz administered by the researchers. The three distinguishing categories were frequently, less frequently, and not at all. After recording each individual’s information, they put the surgeons and residents through a laparoscopic surgery simulator (thin instruments very similar to to excessively long chopsticks are inserted into one or more small incisions through the skin along with a small camera that is inserted into an additional small opening). This procedure is generally used for gallbladder removal, gynecological procedures, and numerous other procedures that used to require large, invasive cutting and stitching.

(Aren’t you just dying to know what the results were) It was found that the surgeons and residents who used to be frequent video gamers were significantly better than those who did not play video games at all. In fact, on average those video gamers were 33 percent faster and made 37 percent fewer mistakes than those who did not play video games. (Interesting ain’t it) But it is important to also note that these are all successful professional surgeons and surgical residents who simply played a 3-5 hours a week, NOT pale kids who never see any other light besides the television and computer screens. But the results did yield the trend that the more the gamers played, the better their speed and accuracy was on the simulator. Those who were actually avid gamers managed to perform 47 percent faster and with as much as 39 percent fewer mistakes.

On a more serious note, though the subjects may not have been necessarily distinguished, world renown people in their fields, they are still professionals who have worked relentlessly to achieve their respected titles. Although the article does not specify a reason why surgeons who played video games are better laparoscopic surgeons than those who did not, I’m going to infer (as a fellow gamer) that it has to do with dexterity. Video games are designed to be complex worlds with difficult tasks that are only achievable through the player’s understanding of the game, ingenuity, and manipulation skills. But at the same time being smart does not necessarily mean you will be a good gamer, you must also be dexterous and have good hand-eye coordination. These are skills that are developed and modified the more you play. Supposing the simulator and procedure are similar in a gamer’s eye, it is not too surprising that these skills would find applicability in surgery. Who knows, maybe shooting people and racing cars on Saturday mornings may aid my pre-med career.

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  1. October 28, 2011 at 3:27 am

    I have heard about surgeons using the video games to improve dexterity and keep their hand eye reflexes up to speed, even in their free time. It seems like a fun way that can help them to improve their fine motor skills while not actually being in a skills lab or operating on a patient, but a way to work at home as well. Like anything else practice makes perfect. Anyone who plays video games has probably noticed that at first they are not very good and the character stumbles around and the movements are jerky I know this happened to me. Wouldn’t you rather have surgeons learning on a machine in this time of practice rather than on a person?
    I have also heard of soldiers having XBOXs and playing modern warfare or other games and practicing their shot, so it seems like video games may help with more than one profession. This way they can practice without the real life consequences of war, but can still improve their aim. While I do not see video games replacing training any time soon I think they have gotten a lot better in the last few years and a lot more realistic, to the point where professionals use them rather than just teenagers.

  2. October 29, 2011 at 1:54 am

    I am glad to hear that they finally found a proven positive for video games. As an avid gamer as well, I am tired of always hearing about how terrible and worthless video games are for you and that you can always do something better. And everyone says that video games are so easy and that there really is no skill involved. These really annoy me because if you dont play video games and then try, they usually find it very hard because of all the different buttons and joysticks that need to be used at all times. Obviously video games aren’t a mindless and meaningless activities. Video games do help improve dexterity, and also help improve hand-eye coordination. I do believe that this helps me as an athlete, especially I rely heavily on hand-eye coordination. Its nice to hear that a job as important and serious as a surgeon also use video games to improve their skill at their job.

  3. October 31, 2011 at 2:53 am

    I am also glad to hear that video games are “more then meets the eye.” A few weeks ago I heard someone talking about how video gamers solved an aids issue. So I looked into it a bit more. Scientists were trying to identify a protein that caused AIDS in monkeys. The scientists need to know the exact structure of this protein before they could make any more progress in attempting to create a drug that stops the production of thsis protein. So they gave the challenge to video gamers in the form of a game called foldit. Foldit is a gamer where people try to create the most accurate version of a folded protein before their competitors. “It’s a lot like a 3-D jigsaw puzzle, or kind of like a 3-D Tetris.”, said the creator of the game. The video gamers figured out the correct structure of this protein in 10 day, where scientists had been trying for close to 14 years. I thought this was another way that video games have helped improve and forward our society, and it also goes to show that what gwbaseball said about video games not being mindless activities are true. These games are complex and require certain skill sets to play.

  1. October 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm

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