Motion-Controlled Games Could Help People in Real Life
Motion-controlled video games like Wii games, could potentially help people improve their skills when they play in the real world.
Researched studied participants who played a video golf game that included 18 rounds of golf. They used a motion controller in order to simulate the golf swing. The participants who played the video game with a motion controller did much better in real world golf than the participants who played with a push bottom controller. The participants who played with a motion controller also did better in real world golf than participants who didn’t play a video game at all.
The motion controllers make the plays utilize their bodies to control the avatar’s movements in the video game.
Edward Downs, a former doctoral student in mass communications at Penn State (and currently Associate Professor of Communication at University of Minnesota – Duluth), said, “What we can infer from this is that the putting motion in the game maps onto a real putting behavior closely enough that people who had 18 holes of practice putting with the motion controllers actually putt better than the group that spent 45 minutes or so, using the push-button controller to make putts.”
The team of researches who reported this info recently in an issue of the International Journal of Gaming and Computer Mediated Simulations, says that motion controlled video games and VR devices are making video games essentially become simulations for people to practice a range of tasks and games.
Downs said, “It seems to us that we’ve crossed an evolutionary line in game history where video games are no longer just video games any more, they’ve become simulators. These games are getting people up and physically rehearsing, or simulating motion, so we were trying to see if gaming goes beyond symbolic rehearsal and physically simulates an action closely enough that it will change or modify someone’s behavior.”
“Why we suspect the symbolic rehearsal group did worse than the control group is because the control group didn’t have to spend the previous 45 minutes translating button pushing into putting behavior, so they came in with more of a clean slate.”
There could be some negatives of using these games with motion controllers such as violence as people could potentially practice shooting in the games and then go do something bad in real life.
Downs added, “The study is really about process, and process is going to happen the same way whether the behavior is considered pro-social or anti-social.”
The study was done with 161 people from a university. The participants were divided into 3 random groups. One group operated the motion controlled game, one group didn’t play a video game at all and one group used a push button game. Most participants previously had a decent amount of video game experience, but didn’t know much about the actual Wii game that was used in the study, when they started.
Once the participants were done playing the games (or not playing), researchers then had them putt golf balls from three distances – 3 feet, 6 feet and 9 feet. The researches made note of their accuracy, or lack thereof.
Edward Downs thinks that motion controlled games could surely improve a variety of real world skills, but we can’t for sure prove that yet as there’s still a lot of research to be done. He said, “In this particular study we are talking about an action that would be considered a fine motor coordination. Putting doesn’t use major muscle groups. But, going beyond this study, I think one of the areas we need to be looking at is to find to what extent consoles with motion controllers can be used as simulation devices to improve large-motor coordination.”