Review | 2007.03.19

So Yahoo reported on a study by a German research group that concluded that racing video games are linked to reckless driving.
'Driving actions in these games often include competitive and reckless driving, speeding and crashing into other cars or pedestrians. Those who played the games most often were more likely to report engaging in aggressive and risky driving and getting in auto accidents.'

There should be little doubt that humans are inclined to do what they see - it's the reason a dude will endure a chick flick or surfing documentaries give you aquatic urges. Whether or not we act on this inclination is based on the ever-blurring ('the twinkees made me do it') definition of free will.

This is by no means restricted to gaming, let's throw tv and movies into the mix.
I remember sliding the rear wheels of my mom's Benz on a two-lane left turn (from being stopped) because the road was wet, her tires were done, and I was accellerating/turning. I credit the instinctive countersteer to hundreds of hours of Gran Turismo 1 and 2. Before those games I didn't know what a countersteer was. I expect I otherwise would have turned harder and slid into the car alongside.

So I assert the study's findings go both ways - and Yahoo decided to play the alarmist and report just on the ills of racing video games. Sure GTA will make you want to drive fast, sideswipe cops, and shoot up pedestrians because you're an idiot, conformist human being who wears G-Unit tees because that's what they do on television. But if the game is modeled on realistic competition (both the mechanics and consequences) you'll be better off.

Real life teaches you to yak on your cell while driving. Forza teaches you that you can't.


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