Report: Action Games Improve Eyesight (What’s Next?)

From Serious Game Source: researchers have found that action-oriented video games can improve players’ eyesight.

Hope for game-related vision treatment?

“The findings, reported in the March 29 issue of Nature, indicate that action games offer players the chance to improve their contrast perception by as much as 58 percent…
Researchers divided a group of 22 students into two groups. The first group played Unreal Tournament 2004 and Call of Duty 2. The second group played The Sims 2.”

“After 50 hours of game playing over the course of nine weeks, students in the first group showed a 43 percent improvement in their ability to distinguish between shades of gray. Students in the second group showed no improvement.”

So FPS and action gamers come out on top this time, but claims have been made about games affecting all sorts of things: surgery skills, childhood violence, racial bias, increased creativity… even “troubled relationships.”  The findings are rarely cohesive, amounting either to overly positive or negative overgeneralizations. Why is this the case?

As SGS suggests: “Often video game study findings correlate with the funding organization’s political and social agenda, a coincidence that raises questions about the validity of the science that produced the findings… one should bear in mind that video game playing also has been associated with computer vision syndrome and musculoskeletal disorders.”

If only we could find some unbiased bias research. Is this study, partially funded by the armed forces, leaning in a certain direction? I don’t think so; repeatedly looking at objects flying around might actually improve your ability to watch objects fly around. The experiment was well structured and apolitical.


What we should take note of here is that video games influence us (mentally and physically) in ways that they aren’t designed to. This time we’re getting better eyesight, next time we might be more likely to be aggressive. In the end the human effects will depend on how we choose to make games and how we choose to consume them.

Tiltfactor recommends that you remember to blink once in awhile.

[Source for this article was originally published by InformationWeek, a division of Gamasutra parent United Business Media.]