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Video game skills pay off big - Rob Felt

I knew it! Even as a small child, planted three feet in front of a 19-inch television screen with an Atari joystick gripped in my hands, I could sense the impending force and undeniable significance of video games.

A story in the Health section of the ABC News website details a study of surgeons who play video games. During laparoscopic surgery, the gaming doctors made 37 percent fewer mistakes and completed their work 27 percent faster than their non-gaming contemporaries.

The reason? Laparoscopic surgery uses a tiny remote-controlled camera and instruments that are controlled by, get this, joysticks. Doctors train on video simulations with the controls before working on real patients. Translation: they play a video game!

I have friends in medical school, and I don't mean to discredit their training, but if all surgery could be programmed into a set of tasks that a PlayStation controller could accomplish then I need to jump in there and take care of some business. Stat!

Medicine isn't the only field where gaming skills can make you a maestro. Ironically, the killing and devastation linked to modern warfare can, and often is, easily translated into a video game. I won't list the moves based on this premise here, but I'm not the first one to realize that playing a flight simulator for hours where you drop smart bombs on targets isn't as far from the real thing as you might like it to be.

To all of the parents who told their kids to go outside and play during summer vacations: HA!

With every hour your children spent dissecting the most efficient level order in Mega Man II, and then painstakingly executing the dexterous maneuvers needed to complete the game, they became better suited to contribute to society.

Newer online video games use a multiplayer system that requires players to meet others and group together to accomplish goals. Aside from the purely physical benefits, now video games are teaching us how to establish social relationships and work as a team. What could possibly be better?

As the years tick by and the movie industry and television networks see Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft cutting their audience off at the knees, we are realizing that this is a good thing.

The next time you tell you children to turn off the video game and do their homework, take a moment and realize that they may already be doing just that.

I feel so vindicated.

Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at rfelt@henryherald.com.