Flight simulators like the F-18 simulator this man's operating have been used to train pilots for years.

© iStockphoto.com/arsenik

Learning Skills from Video Games

As game technology develops, some games use the latest in graphics and artificial intelligence to make the game seem more interactive and real. This can help you develop skills that will translate to the real world, even if the game isn't targeting a real-world activity.

Educators know that you can learn better when you don't have frustration and anxiety toward learning. The more technology has developed, the more options parents and educators have to give kids a fun way to learn. Toys like the Speak & Spell and the See'n'Say opened this market more than three decades ago, and technology has advanced to today's more interactive toys.

Video games have also morphed into tools to develop professional skills. This is great for jobs where real-life situations are too costly or risky to replicate for new trainees. Piloting an aircraft is one such situation, and flight simulators are a common training tool for both military and civilian pilots. Since before the Microsoft Flight Simulator game was released in 1982, pilots and astronauts have used flight simulators to replicate flying an aircraft in certain conditions to accomplish certain tasks. Technological developments continue to make these simulators more comprehensive and realistic.

Back on the ground, a 2002 study concluded that video games might be a good teaching tool for surgical training. Laparoscopy uses small abdominal incisions to insert a thin tube in the patient, transmitting light and capturing images sent to a video monitor. Surgeons use the video monitor to watch their work behind that incision. The study found that past and current video game players participating in a laparoscopic surgical program had around 33 percent fewer errors and more than 25 percent faster completion than their non-playing colleagues. Analysis of the study data also indicated that the more skilled game players performed better, and that past video game experience was a significant predictor of laparoscopic skills [source: Rosser, et al.].

March forward to see how military training has employed video game technology to train soldiers in combat situations.