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.