Researcher Connects Playing Shooters With Better Aim

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Researcher Connects Playing Shooters With Better Aim

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Playing games with gun-shaped controllers apparently makes you a better real-life killer.

Professor Brad Bushman of Ohio State University is fairly well-known among gamers for his staunchly anti-game research, which has determined with remarkable consistency that violent videogames will be the end of us all and that anyone who suggests otherwise is probably either lying or incompetent. His latest bit of science follows in pretty much the same track, declaring that gamers who spend as little as 20 minutes playing first-person shooters with controllers shaped like guns display significantly better real-life aim than those who don't.

Bushman had 151 college students fill out a survey to determine their level of aggression, attitude toward and knowledge of guns, and how often they played videogames. They then spent 20 minutes playing either Resident Evil 4, which rewards players for making headshots on "realistic human targets," the target shooting game in Wii Play or Super Mario Galaxy. Then they all went out to the range [or wherever] and busted some caps.

The conclusion? Players who used a gun controller in a shooting game with human targets scored 99 percent more headshots on mannequin targets using a real gun than those who played the other games, and also had 33 percent more shots hit other parts of the mannequin, most of which probably landed in the poor dummy's junk. [That's not actually part of the research results, just a guess.] The study also found that people who regularly play violent shooting games are more accurate and get more headshots than those who do not.

Dr. Bushman, according to his website, has a Ph.D. in social psychology, whereas I'm more of what you'd call a high-school flunkout, so I certainly wouldn't presume to challenge the academic validity of his study. But I'm not entirely sure what the breakthrough here really is. Assuming his results are accurate, which is impossible to even guess at without knowing his methodology, giving people practice in a simulated environment in order to make them better in the real world is hardly a new idea. Should we really be surprised that 20 minutes with a light gun gives one a steadier hand and better eye on the firing range?

On the other hand, the suggestion that people who play shooters in general are better marksmen is absolute nonsense. It makes about as much sense as claiming that jumping up and down on a box of Band-Aids can make someone a better doctor.

As GamePolitics points out, the release of Bushman's results coincides with testimony from Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who claimed that he trained his shooting skills with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Probably coincidental, but more than a little fortuitous, too.

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Well that's a big NO SHIT Sherlock!

Imagine the new pumper stickers: Guns don't kill people, Wii Zappers do!

This annoys me, as giving sombody time to use a replica gun will obviously improve their ability to use a real gun. How many of these participants already knew how to take the safety off first though, i wonder?

Most everything i learned on guns and weaponry in general, before even firing a shot, was through television media. How many movies make it a plot point that "the Rookie" hasn't taken the safety off or loaded the round into the chamber?

You watch enough television, and you'll know how to shoot, never mind using a faux gun in a videogame.

[/mild ranty thing]

While I havn't read the article I am curious as to what controls where done. Was experience on the range for example taken into account? Maybe people who like guns IRL like playing 1st persons shooters? Its worth pointing out that IRL cops and military are trained not to shoot for the head but the center of mass as its more effective so go for the head could actually be counter productive. Also while 99% seems big really it could be better stated as double. Its also not necessarily relevant depending on the numbers 2 vs 4 for example. Unfortunately I don't think I can get access to the paper but I'd be very curious to give it a read through and see how rigorous it was.

inb4moralguardians

And didn't they do a study a while back that showed FPS's improved eyesight?

Point and click interface. That's how a gun works right?

This is so incredibly stupid and such a waste of time! Not enough facepalms in the world for this...

http://www.livescience.com/19984-violent-video-games-improves-real-shooting-accuracy.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Livesciencecom+(LiveScience.com+Science+Headline+Feed)

Here's a link with a bit more information about the study. They do claim to have asked about previous gun use. Although I might have prefered higher sample sizes (151 people split in 5 groups) bigger the sample the better but ohwell. The gun game players made on average 7 headshots out of 16 with an airsoft gun (other groups dropped down to 2). I'd be curious how these results rank against other things like watching movies etc.

I'm beginning to think playing FPS' could potentially put you in the 'right' frame of mind, which could theoretically improve your aim and over special-opness. But that doesn't really mean anything, neither does this research. I wonder if he realizes there's a different between having good aim and wanting to go on a shooting rampage killing as many innocent people as possible.

Let him prove shooters give you better aim. It'll at least reinforce the idea that video games are a good teaching platform.

I call bullshit, it's timed too well and far too coincidental. If he actually did an experiment I'd bet my next meal it was conducted improperly, high bias, and with just a dash of outright fraud.

I say we just outsource all future "violent game testing" to Aperture Labs, and I nominate Professor Bushman as the first test subject.

really?
you're telling me that playing lots of games that require good aim, may over time improve one's ability to aim? absolute nonsense! i simply cannot believe that!

Andy Chalk:

Professor Brad Bushman of Ohio State University is fairly well-known among gamers ... His latest bit of science follows in pretty much the same track, declaring that gamers who spend as little as 20 minutes playing first-person shooters with controllers shaped like guns display significantly better real-life aim than those who don't.

"Playing games with gun-shaped controllers apparently makes you a better real-life killer."

Has anyone introduced Professor Bushman to the industrial design adage "form follows function", and explained to him that practising with any tool specifically designed and built to accomplish a particular task, will increase the user's chances of success at performing said task?

Color me unsurprised. I don't see a correlation between knowing how to use a gun though and being prone to flipping one's shit and gunning down people at random.

DVS BSTrD:
Well that's a big NO SHIT Sherlock!

Imagine the new pumper stickers: Guns don't kill people, Wii Zappers do!

If you want my Wiimote you'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands!

Molon Labe!

OT: Reminds me of the time we took my brother out to the range for the first time. Shockingly, he had really good aim for someone who was 13 at the time. And he'd never used a gun before. But he did play quite a few FPS games.

(I am a psychologist.)

Breaking news: activities that make you practice hand-eye coordination enhance your hand-eye coordination on other tasks.

I really don't see what he's trying to prove with this, anyway. I mean, if you really want to get good at shooting guns accurately, you could, I don't know, go to a shooting range and shoot real guns. And either way (video games or shooting range) you're still not likely to go out and start shooting actual people.

So... what's his point?

There is a sliver of truth to it, as we experience different forms of physics we are more apt to understand trajectory better.

ORLY?

Well, I don't think it improves your aim so much as it teaches you techniques. Such as how to hold the gun, how to fire it, what to aim for etc.

And might I add, movies have been doing this for more than half a century.

Why didn't this so called 'scientist', do a before and after shooting range test? How can we know that those in the 'shooter group' weren't already 'that' good with the guns on a shooting range, prior to playing the video game? how do we know the group playing the 'wii' version, weren't just 'lousy' shots to begin with? Shouldn't there have been '2' test groups, one, as a control to see the 'average' increase in 'skil' at going to a 'fire range' within a set interval 'twice', to mark there supposed 'average-increase' in skill?
And then compare those results, to another group, that, goes to the shooting range to 'test' there first scores.
Play Resident evil/ect, then go back to the shooting range, to see if there 'skill' at firing 'real' guns, goes up by a far more significant margin then the 'other' group?

The way the article states the 'study', really shows that this guy was 'leading' the group to the 'answer' he wanted.

I learned to shoot with an air Rifle before I learned to shoot with a mouse... sorry but I've seen no improvement with my shooting due to video games because air rifles are single shots, so I can't try my aim while I jump from a ledge spin 360 degrees MP5 blasting away, resulting in the deaths of 5 people...

I'm sure that it helps in the sense that doing any task with hand-eye coordination helps with an unrelated task which requires hand coordination... still that assumes the physics are realistic... shooting in a game doesn't prepare you to deal with recoil. Makes no different with single shots where you need to re-aim but with an assult rifle, sub machine gun or even a handgun, games are not as good for training as joining a local gun club, and fuck me those aren't getting as much attention as video-games (not that there are many in the UK).

So ban gun peripherals, not gun games. Also

On the other hand, the suggestion that people who play shooters in general are better marksmen is absolute nonsense.

I'm glad someone else actually knows this too. Training with something like a gun needs practice with a gun, not a mouse/controller, it's no where near the same thing.

Lastly, this Anders Breivik thing is getting right on my nerves, and I get the feeling someone fucking paid him to do this shit because all this is doing is pouring fuel on the flame that is burning video games.

True story the gun safety instructor told me i should put a sign on my house saying beware of owner after seeing me shoot for the first time and the only experience I had was beating Halo on legendary.

Where the people who played resident evil better at shooting or were they just more likely to be actively trying to get head shots

I've been a target shooter for about ten years now. I can honestly say that games haven't done much to help with my accuracy. If anything, I get stressed and become a worse shot.

Also, I want to know just how close the target range was. Anyone can hit a target in the head at ten feet, but ten yards is a different story.

The statistics sound made up (really? 99 percent and 33 percent? That's way too rounded off and way too extreme a difference. You do not get two times better just because you're practicing a similar target, which you're not since RE4 isn't just a "stand still and shoot zombies" game) the results don't make sense (If anything, those who played Resident Evil would be less inclined to aim precisely at the head since they "practiced" on something that actually had a body), the researcher has already made plenty of BS claims, and wait... Super Mario Galaxy has a shooting minigame? ... so anyways, I'm going to go with "no" until we see research with a larger variety of samples from a more trustable source. Though I wouldn't be surprised to hear that people who had played with a lightgun were generally more accurate, people playing different games being /twice/ as accurate to the head is a tad bit bullshit. I'd also appreciate a bit more data here. How many shots were fired, what is the precise number of hits, and what was the precise ratio of body-to-head hits. For all we know the RE4 people could've just fired twice as many shots.

So he means to tell me that holding a gun and firing at targets makes one better at holding a gun and firing at targets?

Glad to see that degree he has is being put to good use. Wouldn't want to waste it, would we?

He's right all that time spent on Time Crisis 2 in the arcade has made me a deadly shot. I can shoot the eyelashes off a nut from 2 miles away. /scarcasm

Simple logic calls bs on this. If you went to a shooting gallery and an instructor offered you some assistance and you decline because you have plenty of firearm experience from playing Duck Hunt; he will likely not very politely tell you to GTFO.

Also by the same liogc would we not have hundreds of hendrix like guitar players because of guitar hero's controllers look a bit like real guitars?

That study is very likely to be worthless for a number of reasons. His sample among students isn't random, and that sinks the entire experiment.

For a start because psychology as a whole is a 'soft science'. Even it's rock-solid conclusions are prone to change and revision because they turn out to be inacurate.

And to sink the study:
What about students who have experience with actual guns? It was done in the US after all. He asked about firearms training, but what about other sources of knowledge like military service, knowledge transfered from relatives or self-practise. Because I'd 'speculate' that shooting guns makes you better at shooting guns.
And other things that train eye-hand coordination, he didn't control for that. Archery for instance. Different weapon, basically the same activity.
And what about people being customary to other forms of violence? Did he for instance check for ring experience in fighting sports? No.

So he used an extremely unreliable sample consisting of one socio-economic group, same education level, only one country, likely extremely biased in ethnic background even. No matter what else you work on after that, from a sample group that biased, no conclusions can possibly be drawn.

His method is also flawed. He used a gun-shaped controller. Wait, hold it a moment there; So he didn't use the normal input device for a game, but instead he used a gun analogy? That means the increase in accuracy could be caused by using something shaped as a firearm, and not by it being a game.

Also it says he let students fire actual guns. Wouldn't the increase in willingness to aim at human shaped objects be caused by handling actual firearms? It's pretty common knowledge that weapons in such a context incite violence by themselves, so again he's gotten himself an interfering variable that sends his research down the drain.

Unless he's done some serious maths to rule out those interfering variables (something which he pretty much can't because of there being several other variables and the weakness of his test), then all his conclusions already sunk.

To make it even worse, he put a live-sized human target at 6 metres distance. Let me tell you, even if you had Parkinson's disease, you could make headshot on a stationary target at only 6 metres. It's basically point blank range at which nobody can miss, and accuracy results count for nothing at all.

Then he made yet another mistake in the number of shots. Six shots. But wait, he's counting missed or hit. That means he's conducting a new test, a binominal chance experiment. Hit or miss. With only 6 shots, it's impossible to draw any conclusions. The absolute lowest limit to draw conclusions in binominal chance experiments is 30, so the study's conclusions are invalidated because the outcome can be explained by randomness.


Basically this 'professor' wrote a setup that is so crappy that if you used it for a bachelor thesis, your tutor would come down on you like a ton of bricks and give it a heavily insufficient mark.

So okay, professor does test, proves that randomness exists. Good for him. When is his university going to sack him for disgracing them?

Lancer873:
The statistics sound made up (really? 99 percent and 33 percent? That's way too rounded off and way too extreme a difference

He only let them take 6 shots, meaning two shots difference is already a 33% gap. If one non-gamer hits twice and a gamer doesn't miss (which is quite bloody hard at such a tiny range) he can already write in a sensationalist style 'gamers make three times as many headshots', and his conclusions reek of such unsound assumptions.

But you're right. If he lets them take 3 shots, he must have been making up the data, because a hit percentage of 99% is an impossible fraction of the numbers, because people can only shoot 1 full bullet, and not 0,05 bullet.

Unless there's a different explanation, that professor had committed fraud.

About what you'd expect from the Ohio State University..

So using a "wee" to play a cooking game will increase my ability to make delicious pasta?

Sounds legit. *goes off to buy a wii*

At least this guy has a some sort of Ph.D.

Who uses light guns nowadays anyway? I sure as hell don't. And the kind of people who play super mario galaxy and wii play are typically not the kind of people who play CoD and Halo. The whole thing seems a little dumb from where I'm standing.

If it wasn't for years of my sitting on the couch playing Operation Wolf I would have never become a navy seal operator and killed Bin Laden

THANKS GAMES!!!

I like to see a result from more people then 151 'college' students. Also be interesting to see people with a varying degree of gun familiarity in the study. I'd like to see if there i any real correlation as it raises interesting questions about how basic mechanics of games can inform real life practices. I'm sure that could be extremely useful for teaching people something.

Wait, really?

*gasps*

They'll be using flight simulators to help train pilots next. /sarcasm

nothingspringstomind:
This annoys me, as giving sombody time to use a replica gun will obviously improve their ability to use a real gun. How many of these participants already knew how to take the safety off first though, i wonder?

Most everything i learned on guns and weaponry in general, before even firing a shot, was through television media. How many movies make it a plot point that "the Rookie" hasn't taken the safety off or loaded the round into the chamber?

You watch enough television, and you'll know how to shoot, never mind using a faux gun in a videogame.

[/mild ranty thing]

Really? I thought the things about shooting guns were adapting for range, dealing with recoil, holding it properly, sighting properly. I wouldn't have expected it to help much at all.

99% is huge, I'm really interested in this and the legitimacy of this, because if so it's got some big implications. I mean he's suggesting, I don't know, if someone were to do 20 minutes on a shooter before going out they'd become twice as accurate. If you went out hunting you'd hit twice as many birds.

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