In the classic 80s movie The Last Starfighter, an ordinary teenage boy becomes an interstellar hero when he leverages his video game playing skills to become a hotshot star pilot. Most gamers have the same idea somewhere in their minds. If they get good enough at driving games or shooting games, they’ll be qualified to be NASCAR stars or super spies. But there is even better news for those of us who sit in our basements and shoot zombies all day. If you play enough video games, you could become the world’s greatest surgeon. No, really.
It seems that the hand-eye coordination that hardcore gamers develop is exactly the type of skills that one needs to be an outstanding robotic surgeon. The repetitive nature of the gaming is similar to the types of controls used in robotic surgery. This news is according to researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch and NOT the Nintendo Power fan club.
The study showed that high school sophomores who played video games for two hours a day and college kids who played four hours a day exceeded the skills of highly trained residents. Subjects were testing on how much pressure they applied, how steady their grasps were and how precise their hand-eye coordination was.
“The inspiration for this study first developed when I saw my son, an avid video game player, take the reins of a robotic surgery simulator at a medical convention,” said Dr. Sami Kilic, lead author of the study and associate professor and director of minimally invasive gynecology at UTMB. “With no formal training, he was immediately at ease with the technology and the type of movements required to operate the robot.”
This is not to say that aspiring surgeons should forget med school and instead plunk down $59 for the latest edition of Wii Laparoscopy, but perhaps the next time your mom tells you to put down the controller and pick up a book, you can tell her you are prepping for your career as a life saver. She may even buy it.
Edited by Rich Steeves