Action games improve 'real-world' skills, researchers suggest

"So what?" you might be thinking, "I don't care about the real world." Hey, we hear you. But! What if you could get those nagging loved ones off your back?

A host of new studies could prove an important bargaining chip in convincing your parents, partners and pad-mates that you really should keep playing Black Ops in lieu of other activities, productive or not. NPR reports on a series of brain studies that suggests playing action games can improve one's attention, multitasking ability and vision skills, including spatial reasoning and "contrast sensitivity" -- "a skill that comes in very handy if you're driving in fog," says Daphne Bavelier, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester.

And get this: Jay Pratt, a psych professor and brain researcher at the University of Toronto, claims his studies have shown that women, who he says typically score worse than men on spatial cognition tests, "improved substantially" after playing action games "and almost caught up to the men's scores." So, if your particular loved one happens to be both concerned and a female, reassure her: Black Ops supports split-screen multiplayer!

But, um, before you forward anyone the article, you may want to edit out some parts ... Apparently, just a few weeks of "training" can show lasting effects on your "real-world" skills for up to two years, and all the researchers involved encourage (ugh) "moderation" in playtime.

[Thanks, Chris; image credit: J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.