Video games are not only fun, they’re often a fun way to keep your brain sharp. But can they help you drive in the busy city of New York? Well, the answer turns out to be fairly complicated. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that playing video games improves your multi-tasking skills. And anyone who’s ever been in a car knows just how many things need to happen to navigate a car safely to its destination. At any given moment, drivers must steer, brake, and react to several different stimuli.
While most of our behavior becomes second nature (meaning, we don’t even consider it multi-tasking anymore) after a while, those who are just starting out may not share those same benefits. Beyond standard training, a love of video games may help speed this transition from novice to expert faster (at least a little bit.) If you’re driving with a foreign license, see what it’s like to go from in front of a screen to behind a windshield.
The biggest difference between driving on the street and driving on a simulated road is that the stakes are exceptionally different. Dying in a video game just means that you have to go back to work, but it’s not like that in the real world. If you’re driving with foreign license, you must be prepared for the consequences of getting on the mean streets in New York City. Not only are there pedestrians everywhere, but there are also motorcycles, scooters, bikes, and other cars coming at you from practically every direction.
The more safety measures you take in real life, such as taking a defensive driving course, the better off you’ll be. In a video game, safety measures will often slow you down. You want to get where you’re going in the fastest possible time. But in real life, such risks can end up costing far more than you think. However, there may be more to the story than just the obvious differences between driving behind the wheel and in front of a video game.
Quick Decisions, Poor Awareness
If a person on the road is swerving all over the place, what do you do? Speed up to get away from them? Pull over and call the police? Slow down so that you can watch their behavior? If a little kid rushes out on the road, how quickly are you going to be able to brake in time to save them? The good news is that video games are known to improve how quickly you make decisions. It also improves your ability to ignore distractions.
And yet, even with all the video game training, it’s not enough to turn people into safe drivers. There have been several studies done to see whether people who don’t drive could use the techniques learned in a video game to stay safe. New drivers typically look straight ahead, while experienced drivers look all around to stay alert. Even with all the outside stimuli coming from offscreen on a video game though, this didn’t help novice drivers learn to control their eye movements on the road. They still looked forward instead of around them.
Video games may be able to help you a little before embarking on your first drive in New York, but not as much as a defensive driving course will. The more real-world advice a person gets before getting behind the wheel, the better!