Virtue of video games: Teenage gamers are better at surgery than doctors, according to study

Having trouble convincing your parents to let you play video games until your eye balls bleed? Or, as a parent, are you looking for a compelling reason to justify the insane hours your children spend on video games? Or, as a girlfriend, do you want to find justification for why your boyfriend prefers to play Call of Duty with his pals all night instead of spending time with you? Then this article is for you.

The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) ran a study seeing how well high school students — who play an average of two hours of video games a day — perform at simulated surgery using robotic tools (did you expect them to let high schoolers cut open real people?) than medical residents (doctors in post-medical school training). What did they find? The high school students performed “slightly better than our physicians in training”. The kicker? These doctors — who lost to high school students — have taken part in real surgeries in the past.

While it has been hypothesized for the better part of the last decade that video games help improve hand-eye-coordination, no one expected high school students — who have no formal surgical training — to outperform real doctors. Go figure.

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  • johnO

    naveed, I totally respect your views and am glad we can have a respectable discussion. I am also glad that your experience was not on a personal level but rather on a professional/career level(which can be also very demoralizing). I know many doctors that I would not even recommend for my family or friends. I totally agree with you that people should be extra vigilant and do their own research especially when a doctor prescribes only a certain kind of medication or equipment from only a particular company. IMHO I believe that drug and health insurance companies have the medical system with a tight grip on the throat and I agree with you that for change to occur, more people need to stand up and demand the change.
    I will make a point to watch the movie you suggested. I also applaud you for standing up for your views and your passion of promoting health awareness to the people, I hope you continue with this noble endeavor.

  • @johnO:

    john, I pretty much agree with everything you said. I didn’t mean to come off all tin-foily.

    Antibiotics have side effects, yes. But, they do what they are supposed to do and do it well. With antibiotics, you are trading the high probability of curing the bacterial infection with the low probability of side-effects. With the particular examples I gave of sleeping and anti-depression medications, there’s no such cost-benefit. The probability of relief much less cure is very small, while the probability of problems is high. This information comes from their own tests, not from outside sources.

    There are obviously other effective drugs as well. My point, was why approve ones that are known to be not only ineffective but do more harm than good. There have been enough debacles where drugs that have been approved by the FDA had to be recalled.

    The over-prescription of antibiotics has led to multiple other issues from drug resistant bugs to intestinal problems where the healthy bacteria have been wiped out. Antibiotics are prescribed for common colds which is caused by a virus, with the excuse that it’s a preventive measure.

    By no means, am I implying that the entire medical industry is a farce. Yes, there are good and bad doctors. My experience is not from an individual experience with an individual doctor, but from having worked in the medical industry for many years as well as researching health issues.

    An interesting movie to watch on the topic of the broken health insurance system is “Damaged Care”.

    And yes, fixing any broken system of this scale is incredibly hard. But to do it, the want to do it should exist in enough people.

  • johnO

    I do respect your views but I do think the FDA does an adequate job in approving medications via specific guidelines before being offered to the public. The issue is that we humans are all different and hence medications(which are all almost chemicals) work differently and with different side effects on each of us. Doctors/healthcare professionals will often err on the side of benefit vs risk when treating a disease. For example, antibiotics are really excellent medications, but the downside/side effect is that they can cause severe liver/kidney damage and even superinfections. But if you go to the hospital with an infection you will be given an antibiotic rather than take the risk of dying from the infection or side effects. Some people might get the side effects but usually most will not (especially the severe ones) hence therefore, it is SAFER to use the medication (otherwise that med will be pulled off the shelf). There is no medication that is 100% safe since also we as humans react differently, e.g lets look at shellfish, some are allergic but most are not, of those allergic some will have a minor rash while others can go into full shock and even die…. and of those not allergic, some might develop allergies later in life!! There is new research out there to match the patients dna with the chemical profile of the med so as to dispense tailor/custom made medications. It is the next huge thing in the medical/pharmacy field.
    I find calling doctors glorified pill pushers, to be a little extreme( it is just like calling the police ‘glorified mall cops’). Yes, there are good and bad doctors, just like there are good and bad police/waiters/ lawyers/teachers/parents etc. Yes some are driven by ambition, money, personal gain, etc but this is the same just like in any other profession including also religion(pastors, ministers etc.).
    I do agree that the health system needs to be overhauled but from which end do we start….The giant pharmaceutical companies, the insuarance companies(health & malpractice) or the hospitals?
    It seems that you might have had a bad experience with a bad doctor, but do not let it cloud your thoughts/better judgement, just like a meeting with a bad cop does not mean all cops are bad… but yes, it does pay to be vigilant with what the doctor prescribes just as you would be vigilant when dealing with a cop/lawyer/contractor/politician… etc.

  • Along with the patent system, the medical system is another thing that needs serious fixing in the US. I don’t understand how the FDA approves drugs that are almost no better than placebos and the side effects are worse than the disease. The drug trials of most sleeping pills show that they might marginally improve one aspect of sleep, while harming others and the overall effect is worse than having had no sleep at all.Similarly, many anti-depression medications are known to cause suicidal tendencies, which they’re supposed to prevent in the first place.

    Many, not all, doctors are glorified pill pushers who have no concept or interest in keeping the patient healthy. They have devolved to money creation machines, at the cost of their patients and even their own families and their own lives.

    Sorry for the rant, but do your own research thoroughly before you blindly follow your doctor’s recommendation, particularly if it is powerful medication or intrusive test.

  • clockmendergb

    I am not going to show my son this article that,s for sure.