Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Video Games and Navigation

I admit it, my brain makes some odd connections sometimes. But the other day it made one that made a lot of sense to me. It all happened while we were trying to direct my older sister out of the city and across the Bay Bridge to the East Bay. Not an easy feat, considering that she has no sense of direction whatsoever. In fact, if you could have less than zero sense of direction, that would be her. The girl once went around a cloverleaf 4 times in the same loop and barely found her way out alive. What's worse is that her husband has no sense of direction either. Thank the lord for GPS systems - which they both have in their cars and on their phones!

What's funny, though, is that my other 2 sisters and I actually have quite good senses of direction. And Andrew has a great sense of direction as well, although when he gives directions, he knows landmarks, while I mainly go off of street names. So I guess that's even more reason why we make a great couple.

This last part struck me even more this weekend, when Andrew and I were playing Borderlands together. He sucked me into this video game, and I have to admit his addiction has rubbed off on me a bit. What's struck me from when I started playing this game, though, was how much difficulty I was having finding my way around the maps.

Now, granted, he had already played through the game at least 8 times already, and in general he's been playing these kind of games for decades, while I don't really play a lot of games involving maps, shooting, and the like. And that's when it hit me - there are no names of streets or areas generally posted throughout the game maps. Sure, they're listed on the teleporter, but the map in the game is all landmarks, and Andrew knows it all like the back of his hand (which I always found to be an odd saying, as how well do you really know the back of your own hand...but I digress).

So doesn't it make sense that subconsciously searching out and remembering landmarks would translate from video games to the real world? And that perhaps all those years of playing video games has actually increased Andrew's real world navigation skills? And therefore, does it stand that, in this society of up-and-coming video game addicts who are entering the drivers-license age, they might just have learned a valuable real life skill from all that playing of video games?

I think someone needs to do a test on this. 'Cause, you know, studying kids for decades won't be creepy or interfere with their lives or anything.

BTW, another tidbit I've always remembered from my piano teacher: she used to chastise one of my fellow piano-lesson-takers for playing video games too much and not practicing enough. And his answer was that playing video games actually improved his pinky trill. Pinky trills are the most difficult to pull off, as the pinky is much harder to make do what you want, really fast. See, yet another benefit. And they say video games are evil...

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