Us gamers have been the brute of some abuse. Our hobby is not always as respected as other hobbies. Baby Boomers seem to especially like trashing the hobby as a brain cell killer. No benefit to gaming, they say! It’s frustrating and can get to us gamers eventually. I know I sometimes compare my gaming hobby to more “respected hobbies” and wonder if I’m actually spending my time well. It’s so goofy because gaming makes me happy, and there is no better hobby than that. However, now there is scientific proof that the happiness from gaming is not the only benefit.
At the University of Liverpool, the Psychology, Health & Society Institute decided to do a little study with UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). In this study, they wanted to figure out who could pilot these drones better. Specifically, they wanted to see how gamers and pilots compared to each other.
IMAGE FROM MILITARY-TODAY
Now, drones have actually been around a while, and in the past, they were operated in much the same way planes were flown. These days, not so much. The popular boys on the scene are the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper. These bad boys are used by the United States Air Force for missions. These drones are popular and need pilots. However, there are not enough professional pilots with airtime to fill the positions. So, who makes a good pilot other than professional pilots?
For this recent study, they took gamers, pilots, and a control group and pitted them against one another. The first measuring was all about personality aspects such as how agreeable they are, how open they are to new experiences, neuroticism, how conscientious they were, and how extroverted. Those personality aspects can help to identify how a person will react in certain situations. Professional pilots were shown to score better in key personality features.
Next came piloting the UAV. Each group was tested on a full flight from take off to set down. In each part of the flight, the person would be given a situation where quick and possible risky decisions had to be made. Gamers scored nearly as well as trained professional pilots! Wow!
Why did gamers score so high? They think it’s a combination of factors. One of the most obvious being great hand-eye coordination. There was an older study, back in 2007, that showed that gamers have better hand-eye coordination than the general population. The study actually revealed that gamers could make better surgeons than most people. Not only did they make fewer errors, but they completed the job faster!
IMAGE FROM GOOGLE PLAY
The second reason gamers might do so well flying UAVs is the ability to multi-task. This is something true for all heavy internet users. There have been several studies that actually look into the brains of older generations that are not so internet savvy, and internet dwellers such as me (and probably you). The connections in the brain are wired differently. Whereas the internet shunner can sustain attention span longer, the internet savvy can move their focus around faster and make quicker connections. Think of the internet savvy brain more like a google search engine, compared to the internet shunner’s library brain. There is a great book all about this called The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains.
However, gamers probably have an even better ability to multi-task than the average heavy internet user. I think that because in games their attention is forced to multi-task to have success. With the way, drones are piloted now the ability to multi-task is a great asset.
The final reason they think gamers probably do so well piloting is due to an emotional disconnect to the “game.” Professional pilots have real first-hand experience of actual flights where fear plays a part. Gamers do not. Gamers also are known to have an emotional distance between games and the real world. Piloting the UAVs is more like a game, where you are controlling something through a screen. This less emotional aspect that gamers offer can help to make unclouded decisions.
Now this study isn’t the first time gamers have been looked at as potential UAV pilots for the military. The military is creating more and more drone pilot jobs than there are professional pilots with flight time. What they are doing is replacing these professional pilots with cadets who have tons of hours of video game time. These new drone pilots get a flight training as well, but it’s sort of crazy to think they are made to play tons of video games to make them more capable of flying these UAVs.
There are even UAVs that use a PlayStation 2 controller for the menus. Now that just screams that they have gamers flying these drones. Not only do they have these new pilots playing video games, but they like finding recruits who already have hundreds of hours of gaming experience!
What do you think? How’s a career in the military flying drones sound? Though I doubt the military will be the only ones in need for drone pilots considering Amazon wants to start making deliveries using drones. Or, perhaps you are more interested in being a laparoscopic surgeon? Take a look at any job that requires great hand-eye coordination, and I bet gamers will have a leg up.