Research: Shooters Make You a Better Aim in Real Life

Brad J. Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, often conducts studies that almost always lead to the same conclusions: that video games are nothing but a bad influence on anyone that uses them. His past studies that draw the conclusion that video games do more harm than good are listed on his web page. So his latest research comes as no great surprise and is coincidentally timed with the Anders Breivik trial going on in Oslo Norway. Breivik claims that he trained to kill people by playing Call of Duty.

Most people would tell you that it is impossible to do that, but a new study released this week by Bushman claims that 20 minutes of playing a shooter using a gun attachment improves accuracy when using a real gun. According to the study, players who used a controller shaped like a pistol in a shooting game with human targets had 99 percent more head shots to mannequin targets using a real gun than those who played other video games. They also reportedly had 33 percent more shots hit the mannequin in various body parts. The study also concluded that those who regularly play violent shooting games were more accurate than others when shooting at the mannequin, and got more head shots. The data comes from research published in Communication Research.

Bushman co-authored the research with Jodi Whitaker, a graduate student in communication at Ohio State. The study used 151 college students who filled out questionnaires to measure their aggression levels and their attitudes toward guns, gauge their knowledge of firearms and if they had any formal training with them, and their favorite video games, and how often they played them.

The group spent 20 minutes playing a violent shooting game with realistic human targets that rewarded players for making head shots (Resident Evil 4); a non-violent shooting game with bull's-eye targets (Wii Play); or a nonviolent, non-shooting game (Super Mario Galaxy). All three titles are Wii games in case you didn't come to that conclusion sooner…

I played Gumshoe until my fingers and hands were numb, but my NES Lightgun training did nothing for my accuracy. Go figure. Resident Evil 4 for Wii didn't turn me into to Dirty Harry either.

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  1. 0
    mthiel says:

    To be honest, I am not surprised that there is a study stating that shooter video games improve aim. I am still waiting for studies stating that even if you stop playing games for a long period of time, such as 4-5 years, you are going to commit a shooting spree. Or that before you commit the shooting spree, you decide to remove all evidence that you even played video games.

  2. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Does the study say how long after they game the tested with the real guns?

    To me this just sounds like warming up before a shoot, a little practice before applying real skills, which is plausible with a dummy gun since people actually DO train this way.  It will not make you a crack shot, as others have pointed out things like recoil are not taken into account, but it can be a useful part of a practice routine.

    But just like training on a flight simulator, it only works if you have a fairly accurate input device, i.e. a good dummy gun. 

  3. 0
    GrimCW says:

    i'd bet they were basing on the "first shot" as opposed to subsequent shots.

    the first one is a no brainer, even an untrained shooter could make those at short distances.  so tbh it brings into question a variety of issues. Namely, gun type, caliber, and distance to target, as well as did they have to fully pull the trigger on the first shot, or were they permitted to manually cock it?

  4. 0
    GrimCW says:

    whew, i was hoping i wasn't the only one that cought the catch 22 in that :)

    aside from the very few PSmove enabled, and light gun shooters out there for the PS3/Wii, i don't see where the study is worthwhile.

    and given the amount of used PSMove guns and lack of moving Wii guns.. i'm in doubt that many people use them for them avail platforms..

  5. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    I dunno I think if you boil it down gaming through various attempts at physics helps in the ability to guestamate better when it comes to trajectories.

  6. 0
    prh99 says:

    Someone should study the ethically questionable research practices employed, especially at a public university, to blame games for societies ills, who knows it might end a few careers.

  7. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    "The group spent 20 minutes playing a violent shooting game with realistic human targets that rewarded players for making head shots (Resident Evil 4)"

    Must have been playing the early in the game because it's not long before head shots becomes a really bad idea.

    I wonder what "controller shaped like a pistol" he used, the Nyko Perfect Shot or something like that?


    Andrew Eisen

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