Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Optometrists improve athletes - I still think it's Video Games

If you haven't caught this article about eye-tracking exercises in virtual worlds and the improvement in athletes, then take a read. My feeling is this all fits along my theory that video games are a great training tool for athletes. The difference in this new research is that a virtual world, seen through virtual glasses (or something similar), might be a better training implement for information that comes in through your peripheral vision. This in contrast to the standard console and television set-up that can be viewed almost completely within your field of view.

Pictured Above: A key practice session in the art of video gaming.

The day can't be far off when these tools are integrated in athletic training. Given the cost effectiveness of the Wii, it can't be far off until we can create these systems for home consumption.

The articles progressive research into cognitive performance evaluation may be the key piece of research that we can then use to evaluate different scenarios. Maybe my theory will soon be proven as science as opposed to an excuse why video games is a valid pastime.



i da ho said...

your 'theory' was one of my thesis projects. i created a full vision therapy program for beginner-intermediate ultimate players.
i'm trying to patent it.

sockeye #44

honeyhands said...

I wonder what else gets trained in addition to hand to eye co-ordination... I just started playing Fallout 3 and it's a lot of sneaking around and shooting things. There are big benefits in the game to keeping awareness of what's happening all around you, prioritizing targets, being judicious with ammo, all of which could be helpful in ultimate or other sports. It also makes me feel good, which I figure can't hurt in other areas of life.

On the other hand, I'm running around SHOOTING at things when I should be sleeping. Will my hand to eye improve but my aggression/irritability also increase? How do we track improvements? What exactly are we tracking? Domains of the virtual space being sampled in a certain amount of time?

Having just played with some pretty new players last night, I can say that field scanning is something that has to be developed, and even top players get locked into one part of the field. I'm not sure that just playing video games will improve this scanning ability unless the game is so challenging that you die/are penalized for not scanning optimally. If it helps me justify playing the game though, then of course it will help; not just in ultimate, but in life as well.

Another question I had about this was whether improving visual search efficiency is a general ability or very context specific- are the types of scans you should make in ultimate radically different then where you should be looking in soccer? If so, then there may be an even bigger divide between video games and real life sports performance.

On the other hand, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. There could be a general capacity to quickly scan the environment, that then can be tailored to specific sports.

Mackey said...

Using the wii to train perception...

the tools are out there.

Completely agree that peripheral vision is possibly the most important perceptual facet to train for ultimate. Keying in on specifics is instructive, but learning to see the "whole field" means learning to use your whole vision.

Re: video game playing, there has been evidence to show gamers tend to have better hand-eye coordination than non-gamers. For perceptual tasks...I haven't seen or heard anything to that end, but it's likely because I haven't looked hard enough (and the discoveries haven't been big enough to find its way to my newsfeeds).

I will offer that today's society--managing attention in multiple fields, switching regularly between information on the internet on your iphone while you're walking down the street and avoiding people ahead of you, etc--definitely develops a competency for what I'll call partial attention. That sort of thing would definitely jive well with taking in information from multiple parts of the field simultaneously when making decisions in real-time there.

Jeff said...

i don't like the grouping of "video games".

there are low intensity games where you click buttons, and high intensity games where multiple objects are speeding around and you have to be able to immediately separate and identify them. first person shooters, multiplayer real time strategy games are in this category. slow games like rpgs i would highly doubt help hand/eye, same with MOST others. i would also argue that the mouse is the most effective for improvement, and the wii controller is probably a step back in hand/eye development - it was designed for simplicity.

Mackey said...

I get your point, Jeff, but I think you're confusing the difference between hand-eye coordination and reaction time.

FPS, RTS, yeah, you'll learn to respond more quickly. Any video game, however, will teach you to use your hands in order to enable action based upon what you're seeing. I'm pretty sure they've done studies based on even simple video games, but at this point I'm bordering on talking out of my ass without any review of actual literature. (I was a neuroscience major in college)

If it weren't (c) Match, I'd throw in a "just my thoughts" here.