Do Video Games Make you a Better Driver?

Driving is one of the, if not the most, dangerous activities that the vast majority of society engages in on a daily bases. In this day in age there are many different methods in which entities try and protect society to the best of there abilities in order to make driving as safe as possible. With this in mind, I was compelled to conduct research on a way that was rumored to improve you driving skills. I have heard that certain types of video games, particularly ones involving driving, improve you ability to drive.

Shortly into my research I found an article titled, “Do video games really make you a better driver?” that discusses the reasoning behind why video games make you a better driver. The article starts off by saying that video games are in fact good for your brain, and then goes on to say that they improve your ability to make the right decision faster. The article then goes on to explain a study conducted on two groups 18-25 years old, the one group played fast paced action video games while the other group played slow paced video games. The study examined individuals from both groups ability to make quick decisions and answer questions. The researchers found that the group that played fast pace video games was able to make decisions and answer questions at a 25 percent faster rate. Not only were they able to make these decisions at a faster rate, but also these decisions were accurate, which is the crucial factor as to why video games benefits driving. My only criticism on the study is that the connection to driving is present, logical, and easy to follow; however, the study would be more meaningful if they did a test involving driving. They could do some type of simulation where each individual experienced the same potentially dangerous situations while driving and examined how they the two groups reacted differently.

In order to ensure that this study was not an outlier I conducted further research to see if similar studies drew similar conclusions. The next study I found was explained in an article titled, “Increasing Speed of Processing With Action Video Games”. This study simply reviewed evidence that found that individuals playing action video games significantly reduced their reaction time without loosing accuracy. Unfortunately, this study did not test the individual’s improvement driving capabilities; therefore, I continued to look for ones that did.

Eventually I was able to find a study that actually conduced an experiment that tested driving through a simulator. The study was discussed in the article, “Excellent gamer, excellent driver? The impact of adolescents’ video game playing on driving behavior: A two-wave panel study”. The study included 354 adolescents that played video games took a driving stimulator. The researchers found that they did have improved reaction time, which benefited driving; however, they exhibited risky behavior while driving, which in fact made them worse drivers. The conclusion of this study was unique in that it said that video games made them worse drivers; however, I wonder if they took greater risks because they knew they actually were not in danger since it was a simulation.

Take home message: Action and high paced video games improve reaction time in individuals, thus, giving them the an asset to become a better drivers. It is important to realize that video games only give the individuals an asset to become better drivers, but does not mean that they will be better drivers.

4 thoughts on “Do Video Games Make you a Better Driver?

  1. Hunter Alexander Mycek

    Adrain, I am going to have to disagree with you here. Making the jump from video games to reaction time to driving capabilities is a long one. First of all, reaction time is only important in cases where a driver makes a bad decision or another driver threatens you with lapse in concentration. Second, very few things about driving a car and driving a car simulator are similar, at least in my experience. Mainly, I am going to have to argue that reaction time is not an indicator in driving ability. Finally, you only use one study that relates video games directly to a driving simulator and that study concluded that it did not make them better drivers.

  2. Margaret Kreienberg

    When I first read your title I was very curious to see what you would discuss. It makes total sense that video games improve reaction time. Reaction time is just one of many factors that make up a good driver. Since a video game controller does not simulate the wheel of a car, people still need to be aware that being an avid video game player will not guarantee them perfect driving skills. I remember my fifth grade teacher told all of us to play guitar hero because it would improve our reaction time and make us faster when it came to the “mad minute” math tests. Here is a cool list of all the other ways that video games can help us!

  3. Rory McGowan

    Very interesting content. I am a pretty staunch advocate for the enjoyment of video games. Not only do they allow the opportunity to refine one’s reflexes and reaction timing, as explained in your article, but, they also have the ability to augment the critical thinking skills of an individual. Take a look at this article http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/01/16/gone-home-a-video-game-as-a-tool-for-teaching-critical-thinking/.
    Also, do you think that having the proper hardware–eg. a steering wheel controller–would have further beneficial impacts upon the augmentation of reflex?

  4. Aidan Quinn Graham

    As someone who plays video games, and considers himself a good driver, I was naturally attracted to your headline. I’ve always believed that I have good hand eye coordination and reflexes, which undoubtedly can be attributed, in part, to playing high paced video games.

    I had always believed that this would be a useful skill for driving, so it was cool to see you discuss and reinforce that idea within a scientific way of thinking. I also really liked the way you structured the piece, taking the reader through your methods of conducting research. Good job!

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