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Study: Fast-Paced Video Games Help Decision Making

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- It's not just fun and games.

A new study shows how playing action video games can improve decision-making skills.

Caleb Houppert and his friends love playing video games.

Shooting games is the best, especially as a guy, killing things is always fun," Houppert told CBS 2's Dr. Holly Phillips.

But these games may be more than just fun. They may help our brain make accurate decisions faster.

"You're always moving so you gotta be looking all over the screen, because there's always people coming and trying to kill ya'," video game enthusiast Tanner Murray said.

Researchers tested dozens of young adults who didn't normally play video games. Half played 50 hours of fast-paced shoot-'em-up action games. The other group played a slow moving strategy game. Afterward, they were given a series of tests. The action game players reached a decision 25 percent faster and they were just as accurate.

"What the individual gains by playing action games is the ability to collect more information from their surroundings, then really make better decisions," said Dr. Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester.

Researchers say that doesn't just make them better at playing video games, it also improves their ability to make decisions in real life.

"If you are driving that means you would hit the brake faster upon seeing something on the road," Dr. Bavelier said.

"It makes your brain work harder," Houppert added.

For Houppert and his friends, choosing to play video games is the right decision.

According to a report by the Entertainment Software Association, 68 percent of American households have members who play video games. Previous research has found video games can also improve hand-eye coordination and reaction time.

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