How Playing Video Games Helps With Surgical Skills

Recently, scientists performed a study to find out if gaming can improve surgeons’ performance. The results seem in favor of the connection.

It’s easy to assume that video games have no practical applications to the real world. However, an experimental study suggests that this may be a misconception, as surgeons who play more video games seem to be more effective during certain medical procedures.

From a scientific standpoint, regularly playing video games does provide some beneficial results for humans. Among other things, gaming tests one’s hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills, spatial abilities, and reactions. Many of these skills are important to a variety of occupations, but in the case of a surgeon they enable more than just a career – they save lives. A surgeon with poor dexterity is a deadly thing, and video games might be a plausible tool in keeping a surgeon’s skill as sharp as a scalpel.

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A study published on found that playing video games “demonstrates potential” as a form of surgical training. The study group cross-referenced results from previous experiments, testing the issue against their own findings with a combination of observational and randomized controlled studies. The conclusions drawn from their results are that video games seem to be most beneficial in aiding surgeon efficiency during laparoscopic and robotic surgeries. However, more thorough experimentation is needed to determine if there is any hard connections between video games and surgical skill.

Should Surgeons Use Video Games To Train?

Players wield a saw and an axe to operate on Bob in Surgeon Simulator 2

In the end, this shows that there is at least some cause to explore video games as an educational tool for medical professionals. More work is necessary to determine which games can help surgeons with which surgeries. It’s unlikely that any old game will do the trick, as it has to exercise a very specific set of abilities. So, unfortunately for some surgeons, spending six hours decorating an Animal Crossing island is likely not going to help them with tomorrow’s appendectomies. For the time being, surgeons should definitely not just trust any random game to improve their skills.

The study also warns that their results might not be the most consistent. Different rounds of their experiments possessed “methodological heterogeneity.” Basically, they didn’t follow exactly the same process for each round of experiments. This doesn’t completely disprove their conclusion but it is important to recognize that they’re working with skewed data, even if by a small amount.

On the bright side, this study shows that there is a bright future for video games to be more than just entertainment. It can be an educational tool for some of society’s most important occupations. Plus, it’s a sign that scientists are working on improving gaming’s medical and educational benefits. Sometime in the future, it’s entirely possible that some form of video games may be the industry standard for training and educating workers in all types of job fields.

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