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Are Gamers Safer Drivers?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the stunts-served-me-well dept.

Transportation 220

thecarchik writes "Racing video games: many of us play them and love them. But do they really make us better drivers, as some say, or do they make us more dangerous on real-life tarmac? Two studies go head-to-head on the issue."

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Depends on the game (4, Funny)

Josh Triplett (874994) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065118)

Re:Depends on the OS too! (1, Offtopic)

kale77in (703316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065182)

Depends on the OS too. -- How often have we heard that Linux has poor driver support!

*hwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh*

Re:Depends on the OS too! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066570)

Linux may have poor driver support, but Windows crashes every other day. ::rimshot::

Oh, and Mac just works and rarely has problems, but it will only take you to Apple-approved places.

Yeah, that one was weak.

Re:Depends on the game (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065356)

Uhm, what does that game have to do to the article in question? Try Carmageddon!

Except for initial levels, actually trying to race becomes tedious, hard and unprofitable so you end up winning every level by crashing all opponents. The best and most profitable way is head-on collisions.

Due to great realism it damages you just a bit, and you can instantly repair paying cash -- with each collision with another car bringing far more than you pay for damages (so you can afford colliding with the environment).

If Carmageddon isn't the best way to learn how to drive safely, I don't know what is.

Re:Depends on the game (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065656)

Depending on your point of view, it's either funny or scary that I was playing Carmegeddon around the time I learned to drive.

Every so often I wasn't as alert on the road as I should have been, and started thinking in terms of scoring points. Now thankfully, I never did drive over any old ladies IRL, because those walkers would cause a lot of damage to the bearings.

Re:Depends on the game (0)

aussieslovethecock (1840034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065410)

I'd like to safely drive my wang up your anus. Okaylah?

Re:Depends on the game (1)

underqualified (1318035) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065792)

try playing grand theft auto for a few hours then go out with a real car.

i actually had to remind myself that i wasn't playing anymore.

Re:Depends on the game (2)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065966)

i had this same effect, but a bit more subtle.

At the time i was playing Project gotham racing 4. In that game, they just introduced bikes. The easiest way to win against a bike was when given the chance, just bodyslam them into the railing with your car when comming out of a corner or something, making them lose about 6-7 seconds, giving you a comfortable lead and breathing space to worry about car-driving competition.

Then one day i sat at the traffic lights, and a bike pulled up beside me, my first reaction was "if i just slam him to the side right of the line, i wont have to worry about him", thankfully it took about a tenth of a second for my brain to catch up and correct myself :)

Re:Depends on the game (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066696)

Yeah, much as people try to deny it, practicing something like that over and over does structure your responses. That's the basic principle of any kind of training. It's also why games like Burnout (where you crash frequently and, while it's somewhat realistic, you instantly reset with a shiny new car) are dangerous - because they're training people who play them to believe, on some level, that crashing at high speed is a minor inconvenience rather than an often life-changing disaster. (Not that I don't love playing Burnout... but I watch myself very carefully when driving after doing so.)

Interestingly, I had a similar but opposite effect after the first time I played GTA 2. After spending about four hours at a party with everyone laughing ourselves silly while taking turns at trying to get gourangas (yes I went to those sorts of parties), the next day I jumped every time I heard a car behind me, expecting it to try and run me over for points and lulz.

Re:Depends on the game (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066416)

you drive around with a gun and crowbar in the front seat, and a hooker between your legs?

Re:Depends on the game (2)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066604)

Don't you? O.o

I'd say... (1)

Crimson Wing (980223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065120)

I'd say it's probably some of both.

Re:I'd say... (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066012)

Yes, but it certainly doesn't work the other way around. Driving hasn't made me a better gamer, I still completely and utterly suck at racing games, seemingly flying off the track every 5 seconds,

Fortunately I don't do this in real life.

Perhaps being bad at racing games makes you a better driver in that you know you suck so badly at it you just generally don't bother trying to race, and instead prefer to do other things like run round shooting people and chopping them up with chainsaws... wait, no, that's not right either.

Perhaps these studies are both just shit.

Re:I'd say... (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066180)

In a decent racing game you can learn how your car reacts at the limits of grip, which will serve you well in snow and rain for example, though yes also just driving slower works if you want to be inefficient :p

To be good in racing games you need to realise that slowing down adequately (pick a braking point by the track to help you judge when to brake, and try to brake *before* corners rather than on them - throughout a corner you need to be on the gas slightly to keep the car balanced/at a constant speed) helps you get round the corner faster (better line through, able to accelerate out again earlier), and overall it's better to go in too slow than too fast and end up off the track. It's useful to test the limits from time to time of course, to find out just how fast is too fast.

Re:I'd say... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066484)

In other words he needs situational awareness, that is very tough to get on a single monitor.

Personally I use my peripheral vision a lot. Playing Racing sims, and FPS games is tough because I can't see over my shoulder. I have been tempted for years to build a three monitor system to give me a little side to side views but there are so few games that support it well.

Re:I'd say... (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066582)

Yes, this is a major part the problem with racing games. You just can't judge the distance to a corner or the speed you're doing in a racing game simply by the context of your surroundings (other than your speedometer) like you can in real life.

I know when I'm going too fast in my car because I start to feel and hear it in the engine and the car, I can better tell my surroundings, and can more easily judge the stopping distance required.

I imagine it's largely because on a 2D screen you just can't judge depth for corners like you can in a real car. Presumably some people get better at this playing enough but I just find it hard work most the time.

I played Need for Speed Hot Pursuit and Shift a fair bit over christmas, and I was fine with Hot Pursuit and started getting quite good because you can race 3rd person and it's a much more arcade style game, but I just couldn't play Shift. Forced into a drivers seat view things are just completely different.

Oddly I've always been good at the likes of Flight Sims though, and cockpit mode didn't cause me any problems here. Playing the recent Apache: Air Assault in cockpit only mode on Veteran difficulty I actually found damn good fun and online I found myself excelling at flying round canyons at speed, not crashing and pulling off some tough rocket shots as I flew by. I'm not sure why I find this so different.

Re:I'd say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066204)

Yes, but it certainly doesn't work the other way around. Driving hasn't made me a better gamer, I still completely and utterly suck at racing games, seemingly flying off the track every 5 seconds,

Fortunately I don't do this in real life.

If you drove at the same speeds IRL, you would.

And if you drove 45 MPH in the games, you'd probably stay on the track too.

type of game matters! (2)

big ben bullet (771673) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065128)

FTA: "Continental finds that frequent players of titles like Gran Turismo and Grand Theft Auto are more likely to crash their real-life cars than those that don't."

There's a huge difference between driving a car in Gran Turismo (or any racing sim for that matter) and driving one in Grand Theft Auto. If you can keep your car on the road in Gran Turismo, there's a good chance you can keep it on the road in real life. If you drive your car like Carl or Niko... well...

Re:type of game matters! (0)

dadelbunts (1727498) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065208)

That is bullshit. I play racing games religiously. Had over 20 racing titles on ps2 alone. Not a week goes by where i dont put in some hours in forza. Hell i learned to drive via gran turismo. 0 tickes 0 accidents And what the hell is a low percentage pass. Low percentage according to who.

Re:type of game matters! (3, Insightful)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065266)

Road rage carries over to discussion forums I see.

Re:type of game matters! (1)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066244)

One thing is true: simulator physics really helps you when you start racing in real life. You'll jump a little ahead in the learning curve, but it doesn't necessarily make you a better driver if you where born to crash.

Re:type of game matters! (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066352)

how does that saying go?

"you can't make a slow driver fast, but you can make a fast driver safe" something to that effect.

Re:type of game matters! (1)

ikkonoishi (674762) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065234)

If you can drive like Niko I think you need to get the Teflon taken off your tires.

I found that when I started driving my experience in how cars maneuvered in videogames helped me learn the ropes faster. Since the games had much different control schemes than actually driving I didn't transfer any bad habits.

Re:type of game matters! (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065460)

I think it is more to do with the competitive nature of games. In real life the best way to drive is considerately and somewhat cautiously, but in a game the only thing that really matters is beating everyone else to the finish line.

Even the summary is quite adversarial, putting the two studies "head to head".

What I got FTA: (2)

Aerorae (1941752) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065130)

"We're not sure..."

Re:What I got FTA: (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066450)

"...more funding needed"

VIC20 (1)

sixthousand (676886) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065136)

My first driving game (perhaps video game overall) experience was a VIC20 based vertical scroller with keyboard controls, and I've never had an accident. Evidence conclusive.

The Anti-Gaming Study is Questionable (2)

mentil (1748130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065154)

TFA says that those who play games are more likely to be involved in certain types of accidents, but doesn't say whether they controlled for age. The accidents they're more likely to be involved in? Running red lights, road rage, or "low-percentage passes" whatever that means. I suspect playing Gran Turismo doesn't lead to running red lights or road rage.

Re:The Anti-Gaming Study is Questionable (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066260)

It's also not a study. Jalopnik [jalopnik.com] has more. It's a survey of drivers in the age range 17 to 39, half of whom were gamers. Possible sources of error include the possibility that gamers are more likely to be young and male and that this is the actual cause of their recklessness. It's not apparent from the report whether or not they accounted for demographic factors but the way the figures are reported - x% of gamers vs. y% of non-gamers - suggests not. Also it's asking drivers to describe their own behaviour so it may just be that gamers are more self concious than other drivers, or just prouder of their bad behaviour. And the there's the causation issue - boy racers like racing games.

OTOH, the pro-gaming study didn't actually include any evidence that gamers' superior reaction times translated to safer driving. So neither study draws much conclusion either way.

Yours faithfully,

Buzz Killington

Not all skills transfer (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065158)

I always get pulled over when I try up up down down left right left right on the freeway.

No (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065164)

What makes you a better driver is:

- Respect for other people on the road
- Courteous driving
- Attentiveness to road conditions and what others are doing.
- Doing a defensive driving course that teaches you how long it *actually* takes to stop.

I have not RTFA (proper slashdot style!) - if it states that gaming effects different attitudes then I am all for changing my opinion.

Re:No (3, Insightful)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065238)

What makes you a better driver is:

  • Respect for other people on the road
  • Courteous driving
  • Attentiveness to road conditions and what others are doing.
  • Doing a defensive driving course that teaches you how long it *actually* takes to stop.

Quoted for truth. Most video games, save those that perhaps are specifically geared towards teaching safe driving practices (of which I've heard of exactly zero outside of any sort of classes or programs for driver's education ), do not typically reward any of the above, and a person who plays driving video games will not be practicing any more than anybody else who is behind the wheel of a real vehicle just as frequently. At the very worst, playing driving games could possibly even create bad driving habits as the above practices are ignored.

Re:No (2)

cronius (813431) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065368)

At the very worst, playing driving games could possibly even create bad driving habits as the above practices are ignored.

So it's probably not wrong to conclude that since none of the mechanics above are relevant in video games (as you're saying, they're ignored) there's no transfer of either good or bad habits to real life.

(It would be different if e.g. you drive around in congested traffic for a big part of the game and learn that if you time your red lights correctly you can plow through an intersection.)

I think car physics are probably more transferable. I used to love Colin McRea Rally 2, and with an expensive wheel with force feedback I remember the angst of driving on ice and feeling *no force in the wheel* during a complete loss of grip. Whether it makes you a better driver ... does driving a rally car on a track make you a better driver?

Re:No (2)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066364)

Car physics are largely irrelevant when you are driving courteously, paying attention, and using sensible defensive driving techniques.

Car physics become important when you take a corner too fast, overtake in the wrong place, don't allow sufficient stopping distance, become distracted, or someone cuts you up and you haven't planned an escape route. The trick is not to get into that situation in the first place.

Re:No (2)

Caue (909322) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065824)

Yeah, let's just disregard anything said by those damn scientists. bah. Both my parents are university teachers, with good resumes. The thing they hate the most is when their students say things like: "I reckon yadda yadda yadda..." or "I think yadda yadda yadda", pulling their own concepts with no research or anything like it. I know it seems common sense, but maybe you guys shouldn't be so quick in your assumptions - always remember: in a perfect world, a research only comes available to the public when it's been reviewed by peers. So it's conclusions are far more auspicious than yours, even if you common sense tells otherwise. I'm not saying someone should be naive and trust anything they read, but in order to say out loud your own conclusion on a topic, at least do some research, get an statistical proof of concept and publish it. Only then you'll have a fair ground of discussion.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066402)

Most video games, [...] do not typically reward any of the above

I'd have to say that most videogames that I play tend to reward paying attention to surroundings pretty well.

Even a game like Diddy Kong Racing requires you to keep looking ahead for oil slicks and the like while also keeping track of where everyone is around you.

Hmm? (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066446)

Hmm? I'm pretty sure that most games had an advantage if you can do at least some of those. Not all games are Grand Theft Auto.

Respect for other people on the road

I don't think any games teach one to respect some NPCs, but there can be as big a penalty as you wish for colliding into them.

Courteous driving

Again, maybe not "courtesy" as such, but you can learn that if you drive all over the place you're going to get rammed.

Attentiveness to road conditions and what others are doing.

Are you kidding? I'd like to know if a game even exists where it's not important to pay attention to what the others are doing. As for road conditions, heh, let's just say that if you think rain or snow are bad, in games like Death Track "road conditions" could include a landmine. Now that's one good reason to keep your eyes on the road.

Doing a defensive driving course that teaches you how long it *actually* takes to stop.

Most racing games have such stuff in the tutorial, if you care to take it. And some don't even let you get to the actual racing until you prove you can stop between two lines. E.g., I still remember getting annoyed at GT2 making me do that again when I got a corrupt savegame on the memory card and had to start again from scratch.

Re:No (5, Insightful)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065320)

You're confusing the different meanings of the word "better". You mean "better" as in "friendlier to other drivers", where this study means "better at actually driving the car" (judging angles for corners, slow-in-fast out with corners, learning how hard of a corner you can pull and the warning signs of when you're getting close to the limit, etc).

In regards to your comment about a driving course that teaches you how long it "actually" takes to stop - there are SO many different factors involved in braking that there is no "actual" time / distance it takes to stop from a given speed for cars in general - hell, even ONE car if you change the brake pads, rotors, tires, and suspension can have two dramatically different braking distances.

The real key to being a good driver is to know your car. That's one of the reasons I strongly advocate manual transmissions - not only does it cut out the whole "I've got a burger in one hand and a cell phone in the other" driving, but it also requires you to intimately know your car and pay more attention, which makes you a much better driver.

Re:No (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065508)

The real key to being a good driver is to know your car. That's one of the reasons I strongly advocate manual transmissions - not only does it cut out the whole "I've got a burger in one hand and a cell phone in the other" driving, but it also requires you to intimately know your car and pay more attention...

to your car and less attention to the road. I like my fake-manual transmission when I want to accelerate fast, but I can feel the extra thought it takes to shift.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065700)

In the UK, most cars have manual transmissions, and deaths per vehicle mile are less than half the rate in the USA [wikipedia.org] . The two factors may or may not be related.
 
Italians drive like lunatics, though.

Re:No (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065848)

Please, repeat after me:

Correlation does not imply causation [wikipedia.org]

It may have everything to do with education required for licenses, wider roads, narrower roads, lower or higher average speeds due to different population density, larger or smaller cars due to individual preferences, taxes, cost of gasoline and/or the insane density of speed trap cameras in the UK.

In short: it is not clear how many cars in the UK have automatic transmission and how many are manual. Neither is it for the US. Both countries differ wildly in so many important aspects of traffic safety that any and all comparisons of singular factors must be ridiculously flawed.

Compare accidents per kilometer between automatic and manual transmissions within ONE country, account for differences in driver age and social stratum (older and / or richer drivers pay the the premium for automatic transmissions) and then we'll draw any conclusions from them.

Re:No (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065998)

Exactly this. The UK's road network isn't nearly as extensive as the US road network, and while the measurement taken there is deaths per vehicle mile, you can bet your bottom dollar the average speed for that vehicle mile is very different in the US and the UK. Now I know speed is not the only factor in road deaths, but it's certainly a powerful factor for severity of injury.

I'd also cite the counter-example of Australia, where autos and manuals are nearly equal, with a more extensive road network than the UK but not so much as the US, yet only has a slightly higher death rate than the UK. Compulsory seatbelts help!

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066130)

Please, repeat after me:

Correlation does not imply causation [wikipedia.org]

In the UK, most cars have manual transmissions, and deaths per vehicle mile are less than half the rate in the USA. The two factors may or may not be related.

Bolded the important part. While I'm all for stomping out that fallacy, let's not spam it on every little thing we see. All the AC did was point out that it is possible they are related, and might be worthy of further investigation. If there were a reverse correlation (is that the right term? It's been a couple years since I took stats), that would cast a lot of doubt on the idea that driving a manual made you a safer driver.

Re:No (2)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066174)

This correlation-causation fallacy needs hammered in everyone's minds, since it accounts for so many wrong decisions, prejudices and sheer crazyness.

Of course there might be a possible relation, but when comparing countries so different in terms of traffic and roads like the UK and the USA, it can not yield a single hint of a theory. It can only mislead or confuse, so it has a negative measure of information content.

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065846)

"I have not RTFA (proper slashdot style!)" - if i had mod points, i'd mod you insightful simply for this.

Yes, but... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065992)

What makes you a better driver is:
- Respect for other people on the road
- Courteous driving
- Attentiveness to road conditions and what others are doing.
- Doing a defensive driving course that teaches you how long it *actually* takes to stop.

Very true, however what makes you *avoid* accidents are quick reflexes and being able to control the vehicle under extreme conditions.

I've had two cars totaled by rear end crashes. In both cases the drivers who hit me were middle-aged women who would never dream of having road rage or tailgating someone, but they couldn't control their cars when traffic suddenly shifted around them.

In most cases it's wrong to attribute the cause of a traffic accident to one driver alone, there are circumstances where a driver, even if he or she didn't cause the accident, could have avoided it. In this regard, knowing your car and being able to perform an evasive maneuver without hitting other cars is more important than the precautions you mentioned.
 

Re:No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066000)

What made me a better driver was being a motorcycle rider prior to driving cars. Everytime I got on my bike I turned my brain to "everyone is out to kill me" mode (which in many ways is true, motorcycles appear invisible to most car drivers, sadly), and act accordingly. Those "survival" techniques carried over very well to the 4 wheel world, I learned to observe traffic more closely, to be proactive instead of merely reactive, to recognize the potential dangerous situations well before they actually happen. In my opinion most car drivers would become much better drivers if they had to ride motorcycles exclusively for a few months

Re:No (2)

Xacid (560407) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066660)

One of the best pieces of advice on how to be a better driver given to me by my driving instructor ages ago: BE PREDICTABLE.

Simple as that. It's easy to remain safe on the road when you can anticipate events - even stupid events with enough warning.

Beyond that - I wish people would realize tailgating doesn't gain them anything. Rather - I wish officers would start enforcing this more than speeding. This isn't NASCAR where drafting is ok. This is a bio-mechanical ecosystem filled with machines that crunch and families who'll die. I can work with people who speed and operate predictably. I can't work with asses who invade my "buffer zone" and risk my safety.

No kidding (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066698)

Most of the dangers drivers create on the road, most of the problems, are related to bad practices, not to skill. Things like not watching the road, refusing to yield, driving aggressively, speeding, etc, etc. You look at most of the accidents and these are the kind of things that were in play. It is far more rare to find something where the driver was doing what they were supposed to, but simply lacked the skill or reflexes or whatever to be able to deal with the situation. It happens, of course, but it is pretty rare.

Well I could see video games helping in terms of that, many kinds of games train and reward fast reflexes and of course if you played an accurate driving simulator you could learn how to handle vehicles in more extreme conditions. However that really isn't what most people need to improve their driving skills. What they need to do is pay attention, obey the law, and be more concerned with avoiding potentially dangerous conditions than with getting where they are going.

I know who loses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065188)

I know who loses the debate; anyone who refers to themselves as a "gamer".

Anecdote (5, Interesting)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065204)

Most of my friends are big video game players. A number of them are nutso drivers. We all used to play Mario Kart when we were 14, one friend in particular would always win. Great reflexes, totally twitch, and when he turned 16, he took to driving a real car like it was a game.

I don't remember how many cars he's crashed. He's mellowed out on the road over the years, as hyper-aggressive teen drivers tend to do when they hit their twenties, but I still get nervous when I see him near a car.

He's technically proficient with a vehicle. Yes, he can maneuver out of a tricky situation much better than I can. On the other hand, he's more likely to put himself in a tricky situation than anyone I've ever met. He would try to min-max his driving, slam on the brakes not a second later than he needed to, slow down only at the brink of an accident, and tailgate like crazy. These are all very good things to do in Mario Kart. In the highway, you've probably seen someone like him: that maniac who zooms past you when you're already going 10 over, swerves a foot in front of you to avoid rear-ending a semi, and vanishes on the horizon.

He might even drop a banana in your lane.

Re:Anecdote (0)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065326)

I hate to break it to you, but Mario Kart is NOT a "racing" game. Yes, it has cars, but nothing even remotely in the way of actual physics. I'd suggest getting a red turtle shell (read: red bowling ball) and tossing it through his windshield the next time he drives like a moron. Only kidding :-)....well, sorta....

Re:Anecdote (4, Funny)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065478)

Mario Kart is NOT a "racing" game.

So what is it? An adventure game with an exceptionally fast gameplay and a weak storyline? An on-a-rail third-person shooter with a terrible aiming system?

Re:Anecdote (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066002)

dont take the guy so literal. Mario Kart is still a racing game in that it depicts moving cars, and the first across the finish is the winner, but it has so incredibly little to do with actual racing (not how i didnt say the fastest is the winner), that it is more of a party-game then actual racing.

Mario Kart is to racing what McDonalds hamburgers are to good beef

Re:Anecdote (1)

mazesc (1922428) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065384)

As long as he only drops bananas ...

Man, I hate those red turtles!

Another anecdote (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065392)

I can nail snap shots with ungodly annoying precision in FPSes, and love to master arcade racers like Need for Speed in between coding sessions. I like to think I'm an above average gamer. The only traits I have that might be partially attributed to a life of gaming are that I don't startle easily and I'm very slow to stress.

I'm not a crazy driver. I'm happy speeding at 80mph like anyone else who grew up in Southern California, but I'm otherwise safe and entirely unlike the kind of person you describe. I don't have any particular great skill at driving and consider myself average.

Arcades vs Simulators (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066058)

We all used to play Mario Kart when we were 14

And I used to play Space Invaders, that's why I always shoot first when I see an UFO. I think you are mixing cause and effect here, your friend seems to have an aggressive personality, that reflects in both his driving and game playing.

I have played several car simulators using a force feedback wheel and I think this has improved my driving. When the car starts slipping for some reason I'm able to regain control easily. Real life cars usually have more grip than simulator cars (because they are driven much slower) and you feel the acceleration which gives you extra hints that you don't get in a simulator. If you know how to control a car in a simulator you'll have no problem controlling a real car, even in tricky conditions with snow or ice.

Re:Arcades vs Simulators (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066170)

I think you think I said something that I didn't say.

Re:Anecdote (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066692)

These are all very good things to do in Mario Kart. In the highway, you've probably seen someone like him: that maniac who zooms past you when you're already going 10 over, swerves a foot in front of you to avoid rear-ending a semi, and vanishes on the horizon.

Not quite. Usually that maniac zooms past you, swerve a foot in front of you, then abruptly slams on his brakes because he failed to look past the end of his hood and realize there was a *reason* for the speed you were going ;)

Not in my experience (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065206)

Most gamers that I know tend to be more aggressive drivers. So no... I'd say that they aren't safer at all. At most they handle vehicles with more confidence and a greater sense of control, but there is far more to really driving safely than just being confident behind the wheel of a car.

Re:Not in my experience (2)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065264)

I personally have exactly the opposite: all of my friends who play car games and me are all very responsible and careful on the streets, we anticipate things, keep a keen eye on our surroundings, and start braking very early just to avoid any accidents or mishappenings.

Personally, I don't think games really have anything to do with this. It's the personality: some people just tend to be more aggressive and careless and thus it reflects in both their real-life driving and virtual driving, not because virtual driving was the reason behind the aggressiveness.

Re:Not in my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065312)

Ditto. Leave the fun times for the track!

Anecdote (1)

LordNacho (1909280) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065210)

About ten years ago I had a driving test. My brother had just bought a steering wheel + pedals, so I ended up playing Gran Turismo (I forget the version) the whole day before. Failed due to excessive speeding. No damage though.

Video driving vs real thing (2)

mvar (1386987) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065212)

Top Gear tested this on laguna seca track back in 2005. Clarkson attempted to beat his gran turismo record of 1.41 but only made it to 1.57, and he said that the game omitted a few details of the track, and the game's physics allowed him to brake later when coming into turns than he could in real life. Video here [youtube.com] . And since we're on the "safety" thing, you cannot press a key to restore your car on the track

Re:Video driving vs real thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065310)

I can't believe people actually take that so called test for real. They used an arcade game title (Gran Turismo) and worst of all, a gamepad to drive. I don't know about you, but I haven't seen many gamepad driven real life cars. If you want to properly compare racing games to real life, you need a serious simulator that is actually realistic AND a proper steering wheel. The Top Gear test was just television entertainment, not a valid test in any way at all.

Re:Video driving vs real thing (1)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065344)

That's not contradicting the study - that's simply saying that the game is not a 100% perfect recreation of real life. The game clearly taught him the track well enough that he got pretty damn close to his game time, especially given that (as most games go, I'm assuming Gran Tourismo does this too) the in-game cars are significantly faster than their real life counterparts.

And since we're on the "safety" thing, you cannot press a key to restore your car on the track

I dunno, I heard that Bill Gates has that option.... ;-)

Re:Video driving vs real thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065526)

Actually they omit the fear and gravity of the driver. Never mind the car, it's the neck that has to take the brunt of the force when breaking and changing directions.
Those are important too, unless you've become really fit moving between the kitchen and the basement. :)

Re:Video driving vs real thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066458)

He had a non-race tuned NSX instead of a NSX-R. Gran Turismo is accurate, they just didn't have the right vehicle that's lighter, has 30 hp more power, and better aerodynamics for downforce.

carmageddon (2)

Jimpqfly (790794) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065248)

Carmageddon really made me a better driver : I'm able to get a triple combo bonus when aiming an old lady, followed by a kid, then a dog.

Simulators (GTR/iRacing etc) might very well do. (1)

fozzmeister (160968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065250)

Simulators (GTR/iRacing etc) might very well do, in a car without ABS I managed to get round a corner of black ice without an issue, as I knew what to do past the level of grip, to regain it, while the car infront went into a ditch, funny really (nobody was hurt) as I was the early 20's driver and the other guy was very middle age.

Sim racers, yes, arcade gamers, no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065274)

It comes down to which kind of racing games we are talking about here. Proper sim racers are often consistent and good drivers both in real life and behind the virtual steering wheel. I just hate to see modern arcade racers like NFS Shift being heavily advertised as "realistic", possibly causing your casual gamer to think he's actually a pro driver in real life too when he succeeds in arcade racing games.

An interesting article what happens when a sim racer who doesn't even have a drivers license is put in a real race car: http://www.topgear.com/uk/photos/geek-rebooted-2010-11-26

Don't know if anyone can relate to this? (1)

ghmh (73679) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065282)

One of the reasons I never got a drivers license was because I was afraid I would treat it a bit like a computer game (the main other reason was just a general lack of interest in cars and public transport otherwise sufficed).

Probably a good thing - occasionally I've walked down the street and been so lost in thought I've stopped (consciously) processing visual input and once even crossed a road in this state.

Re:Don't know if anyone can relate to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066222)

You see, I'm pretty similar. I very easily get lost in thought, my focus can shift between things very rapidly, I often will walk across the house and by the time I've reached my destination, completely forgotten what I went there for.

But the moment I get in a car, that all changes. My focus is completely on driving. I'll listen to music, sure, but if driving conditions are bad, it's very possible that once I arrive, I will have no idea what I had been listening to. I have a hands-free bluetooth set (Ford Sync, to be specific), but I keep my conversations as brief as possible and am more than willing to tell people to shut up and give me a minute if I see a situation ahead that demands my full attention.

I've been in two accidents. One was leaving the high school parking lot when a car full of high school girls in an SUV weren't paying attention and rear ended me, the other was when someone blew through a red light and I couldn't stop in time.

In other words, give yourself a chance. A full understanding of how important it is to drive safely really helps you to focus when necessary.

Changing reference frames. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065338)

When I got behind the wheel of a car after not having driven in anything but a video game for 6 months I noticed I was driving just like I did in Test Drive Unlimited. Namely ignoring stoplights and just looking for traffic. Needless to say once this was brought to my attention it ceased to be a problem.

25 year old gaming experience (1)

mutherhacker (638199) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065366)

I ve been playing games for 25 years and I can say with certainty that they have had a very positive impact on my reflexes. I rarely drop items (catch them mid air) and can track multiple objects at the same time without much difficulty . I think it's all thanks to gaming.

Re:25 year old gaming experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065772)

Or perhaps you've been playing games for 25 years because you're good at tracking objects?

Re:25 year old gaming experience (2)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066018)

The catch-falling-items-in-mid-air effect is actual. As a (former) avid FPS gamer, I can attest this has everything to do with it. This has brought much fun when things were dropped around friends and family. Average people don't expect someone to catch falling stuff in the blink of an eye and more often than not applauds when seeing that. Depending on the circumstances :) it could be even more fun when not catching that thing but striking an obstacle in the process, since force and momentum of this is impressive. Catching a falling dinner plate or cooking pot is impressive, but completely obliterating it in mid-air or severely denting the pot is even more - depending on the circumstances and ownership of said devices, of course :) Having experienced the speed and force of this rather involuntary action made the tales about Kung Fu at least somewhat plausible - though I was completely unable to repeat any of that consciously or in any other situation :)

As I slowly played less and less, this skill unfortunately diminished :)

Works also for sudden and critical situations in driving. Being able to estimate speeds and vectors of different objects all around the visual field helps tremendously. As does the skill to react correctly in an instant, not overreact by jerking the wheel around, keep cool (until several seconds after, at least).

And GTA works wonders for slippery road conditions, since you've trained thousands of kilometers for them without even knowing it. Steering into the slide when losing traction to let the wheels regain traction and then steering back is a skill that takes some training and guts to do it in the real world. As is knowing how the vehicle will react when suddenly drifting. Saved my hide for a few times now.

I think gaming is a double-edged sword for this. It may lead to risk-seeking or risk-increased driving, but also to much faster and more appropriate responses to sudden incidents. If you're able to keep down the urge to drive like a maniac, it will certainly increase safety because of all these hours spent "training".

How gaming helped me. (1)

bronney (638318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065456)

The only help I got from gaming was horning the reflex I needed when driving, in the snow. And have zero problems viewing the minimap aka GPS once in a while. I know many people that aren't gamers, with a low visual bandwidth, that has trouble looking at the GPS, even for 1 second. So I think gaming improves your visual bandwidth somewhat.

The most helpful advice I got from my driving instructor was always noticing what's around me while I was driving, and always know your safe spots (where to steer) in case something happens. In the Canadian Winter, the brakes isn't enough to save your life :)

Re:How gaming helped me. (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066054)

The visual bandwidth is a good point. Games tend to spread important information all around the screen and that helps with real-world cars, since they, too, have a map there, a speedometer there, a radio down there and three mirrors around the other edges of the screen. Being able to track all that without losing focus on the main part is very important. Hard to do for most non-gamers, but trivial for people that have been playing FPS games all their youth.

Being able to track a large number of "opponents" around the "map" is also quite nice. FPS'es and GTA-style games heavily rely on the skill to keep track of action *outside* of the visual field and make correct "guesstimates" on the actions of others.

Answering the question "I've seen this guy a split second ago in that spot, moving over there in that manner - where will he pop up again and what is he actually trying to do?" is an invaluable skill in Counter Strike and on multi-lane highways.

Another anecdote (1)

Brazilian Geek (25299) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065476)

I don't know if it's true or not but my definitely non-gamer wife that only 3 years ago started driving drives like a mad-woman in town while I, a driver for the past 15 years and avid gamer, drive cautiously and actively avoid conflict. When we hit highways, we trade personalities - I drive fast and furious, respecting as many laws as I dare, while my wife turns into 25kph-old-man-with-blinkers-on.

I tell her that I don't trust other drivers in town, I feel like they can swerve at any time and cut me off - like they do in oh-so-many games. On highways I feel more at ease so I cut loose and step on it.

Irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065486)

Driving safety is 95% attitude, 4% luck and 1% skill. Sure gaming gives you twitch reflexes and good situational awareness. But respecting the speed limits, keeping a safe distance and generally being a predictable object on the road is what gets you home in one piece. Unless you get hit by a drunk moron who runs a red while speeding, but that's the 4% luck :)

Re:Irrelevant (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066084)

Don't underestimate skill. As a gamer would say "Skill is when luck becomes a habit".

Of course, everything can be brought down to attitude, since everyone driving 10kph everywhere would reduce accidents and their severity by far. Wouldn't make much sense for overall traffic, though.

Tracking other car's vectors, guessing about driver's intentions, accounting for road conditions, knowing when and how to service the car correctly are skills that invaluable to safe driving. Attitude is not flooring the acceleration even though you have the skills to do so :)

shocked! (1)

puterg33k (1920022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065522)

They didn't include Mario Kart :'(

So the gist of it is... (1)

simon0411 (1921684) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065550)

...that games improve motor coordination/reaction time, but may also increase risky behavior/undue confidence in one's driving skills? Seems to me that second part is more a personality fault that is present in most young drivers.

The only times a game has ever affected my driving were when I decided to read the manual on the way home.

Re:So the gist of it is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065670)

Agree.
If you just had your driving license, and pretend to drive like in GT5, then you deserve to meet THE WALL.

both good and bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065580)

One time i was driving. It was a straight with only two lanes, one in each direction. As i was occupying one, a car coming in my direction was passing another one. So two cars coming in my direction, occupying their and my lane. Since I didn't want to crash, I drove my car to the side of the road, thus avoiding a major crash.

BUT: I didn't even brake, and only a few seconds later I realised that I had avoided such accident.

I think video games made me do that maneuver and not really think it through, and I think videogames made me do that maneuver without having to think it through. =)

Feed Your Need For Proper Dynamics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065630)

I do at least 20 laps a day in Formula 1 2006, and a few in GT4 on nurburgring and leguna seca in a car that I have modified to try and be as close as my daily drive as possible. I race karts on the weekends and long for the few track days a year, until I buy a proper formula car. Every single time I play racing games, from the very moment I take off I treat it as though my life is at risk, any crash and I turn the game off and return to it later.
I'll admit to having done 300kph in a 70kph zone and racing motorbikes from traffic lights to traffic lights but i've never been in an accident in 7 years of driving and have never had car insurance. I grew up playing racing games, since my very first computer when i had a 2 colour motorcycle racing game.
What i must say though is, Need for Speed is not a racing simulator it automatically puts the car into a drift and is entirely unlike driving a car, if you want to get good at driving get in a gokart, don't play stupid NFS games.

Re:Feed Your Need For Proper Dynamics (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065896)

have never had car insurance

Where in the world is it legal to not have car insurance? I don't care if you were genetically engineered in a secret government lab to be the ultimate safe driver, you sure as shit better have insurance if you're on the same road as me.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35065662)

Are drivers better gamers?

I call bull on this (1)

Dreth (1885712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065664)

This is about as relevant to my driving skills as it is to my jumping-on-turtles skills in real life.

Correlations (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065770)

Gamers are more likely to be young men, who are already much more accident-prone than the average. Did the studies take this into acount?

Re:Correlations (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066674)

Both "Gamers" and "Accident Prone" are subsets of "Young Men". How much do these two subsets overlap?

Re:Correlations (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066690)

The problem is that video games NEVER model physics correctly. All driving games also lack haptic feedback like feeling the rear wheels slip out.

If you have a young male child that loves driving games, the bes thing you can do is get them into REAL racing. Start with kart racing and then upgrade as their skills upgrade. Even full car dirt oval is cheap to get into, I raced from 13 years to 18 years old. I was driving a piece of crap on a dirt oval at 16 years old against 18-40 year olds and learned more about driving that anything else could have EVER taught me.

Plus it's 900X more fun than any racing videogame ever made. IT has real rewards and real consequences with real gains in knowledge and experience.

Causal Relationship? (1)

Ventriloquate (551798) | more than 3 years ago | (#35065978)

To develop a relationship between the two is difficult at best due to all of the factors involved. One might take the gender of gamers into consideration or try to measure the impact of one game versus another, but in the end, you still have to deal with additional factors like what sort of information people take away from games and actually apply to real world situations as well as what really qualifies as a good decision in traffic given multiple factors. I think it is better to slowly pick out the effects of gaming on individual measures of "driving performance" before coming to something as grand as a definite relationship between driving and gaming. That's just me, though.

Risk vs. reward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066046)

The only angle of validity I could believe that the Continental study may have is risk vs. reward behavior. Games tend to emphasize this, and the reward is commonly disproportionately greater than the risk involved. However, in reality, ordinary well-adjusted people recognize that there are consequences for driving irresponsibly. Personally I like to drive fast, and I've got two speeding tickets in my 13 years driving to show for that. On a day to day basis, though, I keep my speed within 10 mph (16.09 kph for the rest of the world) of the posted limit to mitigate the risk of being cited again.

I'm of the belief that games generally improve driving ability, due to common requirements of the two activities such as concentration, environmental awareness, reflexes, and rapid judgment. I know benefits to hand-eye coordination are well-documented in various studies, but I'd be interested to see more research in this area. As regards driving games specifically, I suppose that they would boost confidence behind the wheel. I felt like a driving god when I finally earned the S-class license in the original Gran Turismo. The game had some relevant advice for real-world driving in the license test briefings too.

Also, maybe gamers are simply more honest about their mistakes? This was a survey of 1000 gamers and 1000 non-gamers. Gamers do experience failure on a very regular basis, and discuss those failures pretty openly in my experience. Primarily to overcome them, and progress further in the game, but who knows? Maybe this is habit-forming.

Aaaaand... Fox News is on the case, naturally.
http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/01/31/study-says-video-gamers-make-dangerous-drivers [foxnews.com]
Here's Jalopnik's version. At least they provide some context. (Since the Metro version is nowhere to be found.)
http://jalopnik.com/5747792/video-gamers-more-dangerous-drivers-than-non+gamers [jalopnik.com]

I'd say that it makes us safer. (1)

Phoenix (2762) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066116)

And here are my reasons.

1. There is the fact that with most video games, we are forced in game to pay attention to everything that moves as it may be a threat. This is the case in First Person Shooters as well as driving games. In order to not get ganked by either the game's AI or by other players, we gamers need to learn spacial awareness and the ability to access and analyze anything that could potentially be a threat and/or opposition.

2. The Unites States Air Force frequently uses Microsoft Flight Simulator installed PC's in the dorms of trainee pilots. While it does nothing whatsoever for actual feel of the plane in flight, they have noticed that avid players of MSFS are often many hours ahead of "raw" pilots when it comes to simulator practice. It also is a great teaching aid for plotting courses since MSFS shoots for realism. If you're landing at LAX on Runway "X" in the game, it is going to look like and have the same landmarks as the real Runway "X" in the real world. Not to mention the flight paths, routings from airport to airport, fuel considerations, etc.

3. There is also the issue of getting out the pent up aggressions that one can develop on the real road. How many times has someone cut someone off and that person wishes that they could just gun the engine and ram that sonovabitch off of the overpass and into the path of an oncoming tractor trailer? God knows I've wished that many times myself. With the video games, you CAN. You can get your anger out by either firing up a FPS and blowing something away all the while imagining that it is the person who cut you off, you can fire up a road racing game and just randomly start slamming cars into a multi-car pile up of Brobdingnagian Proportions. You can even lose yourself in an RPG or a MMO game to let yourself de-stress and forget what was bothering you.

So my bet is for safer because of gaming.

Gamers leave the house? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066220)

I didn't think that gamers ever left their homes.

I think FPS help more than driving games (1)

Zorpheus (857617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066378)

FPS train the reaction speed and the ability to analyse complex situations in a split second. That is what really helps with driving skills. Driving games give you bad habits, but do not help too much more with actual driving. To really control a car you need to feel the movement of a car, that is lacking in those simulations.

YES WE ARE! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35066650)

Now shut up before I run you into the guard rail!

What ever happened to the scientific process? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35066666)

The first article contends that playing games (specifically, they used Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament) increases the ability to process information and quickly make a decision. Then, incorrectly assumes that playing any type of game correlates to an increase in that ability without any negative consequence.

Playing fast paced racing games where the physics (and therefore, the decision process) is completely different from the real world very well may have a negative effect on real driving decisions. Drivers may still make the decisions faster, but they also need to make the CORRECT decision.

The Second study actually did their investigation using driving games instead of making up a correlation to fit the outcome they wanted to achieve. It showed an increase in accidents for gamers... largely because some decisions are made in a video-game mindset of "no consequences".

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