How eSports & Gaming might Improve your Cognitive Abilities – Even in Military a Environment

eSports and gaming in general do not, at first glance, seem to have too much in common with the military – unless you take into account first person shooters (FPS) games where you communicate as a team and use different weaponry to achieve the objective(s) of the game.

However, there are surprising effects that playing computer games have on your decision-making abilities – even the ones that might prove useful if you join the military. Speaking of computer games, if you are in need of a good gaming laptop, you might be able to find one for less than $400 here.

There is a growing general acceptance of the fact that gaming skills are transferable to other pursuits, and even the military is hiring gamers.

In this article we have gathered together the most relevant information on how gaming can improve your abilities in the area of decision-making, and how those abilities translate into assets than can be used in a military environment.

Soldiers with the Royal Netherlands Army conduct training in Dismounted Soldier Training Systems at the 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command, Grafenwoehr, Germany, June 5, 2013. The DSTS is the first fully-immersive virtual simulation for infantry. (U.S. Army photo by Gertrud Zach/released)

Learning how to Operate a Vehicle

Microsoft Flight Simulator, the first flight simulator, was released in 1982. It was simple, not overly realistic, and the graphics were very pixelated.

Since that time, flight simulators have become more sophisticated and realistic, being developed for both professional and leisure use.

These flight simulators are so advanced that they are now routinely used by pilots (trainees and veterans, commercial and military) in their training and development programmes.

These flight simulator games are trying to mimic the real flight environment as well as possible, and the more realistic these simulator games become, the better you can learn ways of operating an airplane through playing a flight simulator before you ever step inside a real cockpit.

A 2002 study concluded that video games can be good for teaching surgical training, with the main finding being that video gamers achieved 33% fewer errors and were 25% faster in completing given tasks than their non-playing colleagues.

In other words, past video game experience was a significant predictor of skills and performance in surgeons.

Coordination & Information Processing Skills

In a BBC interview with the Royal Air Force (RAF), a RAF spokesperson stated that the ability to assimilate information, react swiftly and co-ordinate actions whilst under pressure are often attributes of eSports players and gamers.

On top of that they tend to remain calm in these kind of situations where you need to quickly decide the best action to take and follow through with it. This makes sense when you take a look at what kind skills are needed to play strategy and FPS games such as Counter-Strike and Starcraft 2, where you are continuously faced with rapid changes in strategy from our opponents and you need to be ready to deal with whatever is thrown at you.

Often these games can be over within minutes if you fail to react swiftly and adjust your strategy based on the information you get during the game – the same concept applies to military environments where a single mistake by a soldier can lead to injury or death (and ultimately losing the battle/war).

Army Reserve Soldiers from various brigades with the 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), San Antonio, Texas, engage virtual targets on an Engagement Skills Trainer (EST) II during the 4th ESC’s Best Warrior Competition at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, March 1, 2019. Approximately 24 Army Reserve Soldiers throughout four brigades participated in this year’s competition to claim the title of Best Warrior. (U.S. Army Reserve Photo by Ruth Medinavillanueva/Released)

General Cognitive Functions

According to Ray Perez, a programme officer in the US Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) warfighter performance department, gamers are around 10-20% better measured in perceptual and cognitive ability compared to non-gamers in tasks required in the battlefield.

Perez claims that video games have a positive effect on perceptual abilities and short-term memory, as well as on the time that you can keep up sustained focus.

It comes as no surprise that, based on these findings, researchers are working on turning video games into useful learning tools for personnel of the military.

Examples of games that could be used in developing general cognitive functions include mobile device games and battlefield simulations in virtual environments.

Games such as Atari’s Battlezone and PC game Doom have been transformed into military versions for simulation, and we expect more games & virtual simulations to be used in military training in the near future.


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