We have all read the stories about how violence in video games is ruining the youth of America, causing people to mindlessly kill, drive recklessly and stop eating their vegetables. People seem to forget the ways that video games have not only helped in the development of new technology, but also have saved its fair share of lives.
The debate over violent video games has been going on for decades, but The Telegraph now added a twist to the story, writing that violent video games could actually save lives through the development of 3D simulation technology. Who would have known that by killing demons in Doom 3, you’d be helping to train people to escape a burning building? A it turns out, first-person shooter technology is the most efficient solution to create fire safety awareness and evacuation training programs. They’re not only cheaper to produce, but also easier to handle compared to virtual reality software.
When you’re blasting aliens or obliterating the newest genetic mutation to hit the virtual battlefield, do you ever think of the processing power behind those massive worlds and realistic graphics? Computer processors have grown in power and speed, thanks to the needs of today’s gamers. Based on a report by cnet.com, it’s processors from top-end gaming graphic cards that are now going into state-of-the-art medical equipment to reduce the amount of radiation caused by CBCT scans. In other words – the gaming hardware produced by NVIDIA and their likes has the potential to significantly reduce the 14,500 cases of cancer deaths resulting from CBCT scan radiation each and every year.
Video game technology is also being adapted for real world situations to train highly qualified surgeons. According to Ivanhoe Broadcast News, trauma surgeons have to make split second decisions during high stress environments and video games are helping with the training by placing surgeons in similar situations. Imagine this scenario: There is a major explosion in an amusement park with as many as 2,000 burn victims and only 1,800 available beds nation-wide. What’s your next move? Trauma centers are employing a game that simulate this very scenario. By closely monitoring 12 victims for a 36-hour period and making the decisions that will save their lives, surgeons are able to train decision making skills and judgment calls in a real-time scenario that would be impossible to simulate in real-life.
Today’s video games are meant to be as real an experience as possible and developers go the extra mile to meet those expectations. This, translated to a real life training for a North Carolina man who used information he gathered from playing America’s Army to save a crash victim. According to Wired, he saw an SUV flip over, went to help out and found a person in the car suffering from severe bleeding. Using know-how from the medic training in the game, he managed to control the bleeding and evaluate his other injuries. This was a case where playing a video game resulted directly in a live being saved.
With the advent of motion control technology in consoles such as the Wii, and now the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, games are being used in hospitals and nursing homes as a form of physical therapy. This therapy is important in letting people regain their strength and mobility so they can lead independent lives. This technology is not only used for the elderly. Wii fit and other games and peripherals help people maintain a healthy life through exercise which can decrease heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
There is not a single gamer who has never left a savage night of gaming with blurry eyes and a case of severe exhaustion, but gaming can actually have beneficial effects on the body and mind. Based on research by the Department of Defense, the perceptual and cognitive ability of people that regularly play video games is 10-20 percent faster than that of non-gamers. Of course, the Defense Department would like to use this to enhance the ability to blow things up. However, in non-explosive terms, this translates to gamers being able to react faster when it comes to swerving around an obstacle in traffic. Considering the saddening number of deaths on our streets every year, this unseeming and little written-about improvement might be saving a lot of lives already without anyone ever noticing. Least of all, the anti-game activists.
Next time you are playing a video game and your mom, dad or significant other chime in about rotting your brain or wasting your time, tell them you are saving their lives and helping others. That without your ability to take out a sniper from a mile away or sneak up and strangle that guard, you are putting lives at risk. If this doesn’t work, you can still hope that one day the media will not only report on the mass-murdering gamers, but also on the live-saving ones.