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Military Research: Gaming Improves "Ability To Reason"

1985

"But Mom, video games might actually help me."

"Ridiculous. You'll just rot your brain."

2010

Ongoing research conducted by the Office of Naval Research suggests "that video games can help adults process information much faster and improve their fundamental abilities to reason and solve problems in novel contexts." This as posted at the United States Department of of Defense by Bob Freeman. Freeman quotes Ray Perez, program officer at the ONR's warfighter performance department who gave the following statements during a January 20 interview on Pentagon Web Radio's webcast, "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military." For those who have always been convinced that gaming isn't a 100% negative influence - as the mainstream media continually wants everyone to believe - these findings are for you. Perez says they have discovered that frequent game players "perform 10 to 20 percent higher in terms of perceptual and cognitive ability than normal people that are non-game players." Perez, who holds a doctorate in educational psychology, is seeking new training techniques that will allow our soldiers "to improve performance on the battlefield." This new war on terror has forced the military to adapt to "deadly adversaries who constantly change their tactics," and this being the case, games could be of great assistance. Said Perez:

"We have to train people to be quick on their feet - agile problem solvers, agile thinkers - to be able to counteract and develop counter tactics to terrorists on the battlefield. It's really about human inventiveness and creativeness and being able to match wits with the enemy."

Perhaps most interesting is the mention of something Perez calls "fluid intelligence," which is the "ability to change, to meet new problems and to develop new tactics and counter-tactics." ...that sounds a heck of a lot like what we always do in many games, doesn't it? Up until now, Perez says fluid intelligence was thought to be "immutable," in that it couldn't be changed or improved. The general belief was that after the age of 20, "most humans had achieved their brain cell capacity, and that new brain cells were acquired at the expense of existing ones." But playing video games have produced "surprising results" during testing and now, the aforementioned belief may be deemed incorrect. Added Perez:

"We know that video games can increase perceptual abilities and short-term memory. They allow the player to focus longer and expand the player’s field of vision compared to people who don’t play video games."

Perez admits that they're not entirely certain of the chemical process that allows this to happen for gamers, but they're "now looking for the underlying neural mechanisms that are responsible for these changes in behavior and in abilities." He says that gaming has a number of positive impacts, including increasing your "executive control, or your ability to focus and attend to stimuli in the outside world." Does anybody else find this to be downright awesome? Who wants to print it out and hand it the nearest anti-game activist?

1/27/2010 12:21:18 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (69 posts)

fuk u
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 12:52:40 PM
Reply

yea that is awsome ben. Though if I were to print this out and hand it to an anti-game activist they would probably say " See! now these army people are trying to turn our children into gamers and rot there brains!"

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Sk8monkey
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 2:26:05 PM

Navy... Sorry I'm in the navy it's a habbit to correct people.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 2:37:27 PM

You are? Than spell "habit" correctly.

I kid, I kid. ;)

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Random_Steve
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 3:19:46 PM

Learn when to say 'than' and then'. However, if to say 'than' in that context is American, then i am sorry :)

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Shatterday
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 3:31:33 PM

I think it maybe a little stupid to think that using an incorrect form of a word makes it American.

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Random_Steve
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 3:40:54 PM

it may be, I'm not American so how should I know?

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 4:22:37 PM

@Random_Steve

I'm pretty sure you mean type, not say since I didn't hear anything come out of his mouth. Also Ben used the correct word.


dumbass

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carl0975
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 4:43:43 PM

LV - Actually, Ben didn't use the right word. Than is used in a comparative form(e.g. John is better at algebra than Phil), whereas then is used for a series of events(e.g. I played Uncharted 2, then my head exploded from not being able to handle such great graphics in a video game).

Ontopic: Time to show this to my mom, she hates the fact that I play video games so often.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 4:52:33 PM

@ Carl

I understand the usage for either word. I'm sticking to my guns on this one.

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B-RadGfromOV
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 5:42:47 PM

What a completely retarded argument. None of y'all can spell.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 5:55:41 PM

Hey B-Rad, there's a difference between misspelling a word and using the wrong word.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 6:00:10 PM

You guys are funny.

Honestly though I come here for gaming news. If I wanted to learn how to spell, I'd attend a spelling bee contest.

No harm in a little argument though. Pardon my interruption. Continue! ;)

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 6:08:33 PM

In all fairness it's pretty easy to scroll past any posts you don't want to bother with. I do it regularly and I have no problem with people being off subject as long as they aren't spamming nonsense.

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Hezzron
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 6:10:56 PM

Me not rite so good, so I doesn't say nothing.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 6:20:34 PM

You taught me the skills of homosexuality, it's all good.

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NiteKrawler
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 8:21:25 PM

Lmao. This is probably the best string of comments I've seen on the site. I have to add my two cents. I think Random_Steve was just saying that between countries (most notably the US and UK), words have a way of differing slightly. Grey/gray, pissed means drunk instead of angry, colour/color, honour/honor, etc...He was just saying that maybe the "then/than" phenomena was different between our countries. It is not and Ben did indeed use the incorrect word. In his defense though, he spelled the wrong word correctly. And I am sure that his correct word/incorrect word ratio is much better than any of our own. :)

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DeathOfChaos
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 10:42:42 AM

Sk8monkey, Navy and Army are two different categories, right? lol. Narrow minded much?

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Shatterday
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 3:34:22 PM

Yeah... that was a little much haha. NiteKrawler hit the nail on the head though.

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Silent_J
Friday, January 29, 2010 @ 2:06:10 PM

you guys are freakking halaerious!!

jk

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nogoat23
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 12:58:38 PM
Reply

Do games cause people to be smarter, or do smart people just enjoy games more?

If I did a study about basketball, and concluded that basketball makes people taller that would be false. Basketball doesn't make people taller. Tall people just play more basketball.

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vicious54
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 2:13:58 PM

I agree with you that smart people gravitate towards games more but I know for a fact a lot of dumb people are playing online FPS's.

Last edited by vicious54 on 1/27/2010 2:15:38 PM

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www
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 2:36:34 PM

vicious I take it, a lot of dumb people will be buying MAG eh? If there's any game genre that improves hand-eye coordination best should be FPS, not just playing single-player but ONLINE especially, where the action is intense and requires more concentration and faster reflexes.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 2:40:34 PM

I don't think games make people "smarter," per se, but they do have their benefits.

And remember, the geeks were the ones who MADE this industry. Last time I checked, the geeks were the ones getting As in school...

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vicious54
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 3:32:23 PM

@www

You assume that I am saying FPS's are being played by dumb people. Basically what I was saying, if you listen to some of the people playing MW2 online you certainly won't think they are the brightest Crayon in the box.

Games playing now:
MW2
Uncharted (Platinum)
GOW Collection

Last edited by vicious54 on 1/27/2010 3:34:30 PM

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Bugzbunny109
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 9:16:07 PM

I wouldn't use the word smart, but would say more open-minded and flexible [in inherent cognition] people are more likely to play games. I do believe this has something to do with the higher cognitive rate; however, I also believe that the situations games put us in are very different to the problems people encounter in their daily lives. In today’s society people are not forced to think much so their brains are comfortable thinking at the average mediocre level it usually thinks at. On the other hand, since games take us to situations we might never encounter in our lives, we are forced to think at a higher and much deferent level we usually think at. Video games, just like any other form of media, have its advantages and disadvantages.

Last edited by Bugzbunny109 on 1/27/2010 9:17:43 PM

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Deathstriker
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 1:23:27 PM
Reply

I agree with stroh000, they will say there trying to use the youth of now to get more advanced in war.

I think it's awesome tho how the common since of a gamer who actually does good in game's is what now could be the best soldier on the field. There's one thing I think we can all agree on tho.

The gamers who actually are good at using gamers instincts...aren't too well with getting rough...if you know what I mean??

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www
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 1:39:29 PM
Reply

The 1985-2010 intro made me LOL.

Thank God for this research. Now am going to sharehis with the 1985 video game haters.

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WolfCrimson
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 1:39:42 PM
Reply

For some reason, MGS4's Big Mama's speech about videogames and how soldiers are made ( the scene before Snake rides the motorcycle) came to mind when I read the article. Anyone else get that?

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Naztycuts
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 2:03:03 PM

I can see why you'd remember that given the correlations between young people and the military in both instances, ironically when I heard her speech in MGS I instantly thought of COD4 and how that game has probably enticed a portion of our youth to aspire to military careers because they want to be like the soldiers they play with. I hope they liked Hardcore Search & Destroy otherwise they'll be screwed when they find out there are no respawns.

Last edited by Naztycuts on 1/27/2010 2:03:38 PM

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Solid Fantasy
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 5:55:51 PM

Yeah, good point WolfCrimson. I always thought MGO or almost any online gaming was what Drebin was talking about when he mentioned war just becoming "proxy battles".

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Akuma07
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 9:25:23 PM

I like to believe that the children of today, are not so narrow minded, and frankly....stupid.


It is good to finally see a few points going to the gamers though.

My kids will be playing as many video games as i can get my hands on, as long as i have anything to do with it.

I think it benefits ALOT of ways, my girlfriend never played a game in her life, and shes so darn boring at times.

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BikerSaint
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 1:47:43 PM
Reply

We should leave a copy of this in that Satanic-game fearing "frumpy old mom's", mailbox.

(but she'd probably swear that Lucifer wrote it himself).

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TheCrazyMerc
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 2:06:29 PM
Reply

Seriously my Mom still wont believe it *sigh*-_-

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Highlander
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 2:10:31 PM
Reply

Nice article Ben. This is wonderful stuff. It's particularly great because it's confirming some things that I have noticed with my son. He has specific challenges in the area of cognitive reasoning and is severely ADD. It's always hard to isolate a single factor when dealing with the development of a child, but I am certain that playing video games has not had a detrimental affect. In fact I have noted that his abilities in the areas of cognitive reasoning, abstract thought, planning and focus have all increased dramatically as his tastes in games have become more sophisticated. The simplistic games he once adored are boring to him now. I can't and won't attribute his progress solely to video games - that would be stupid. However, I am certain that they have acted as a catalyst allowing him to practice and extend his skills in these areas in settings that are not formal learning situations. It's experiential learning, which I always feel is more effective anyway.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 2:39:06 PM

I think it'd be VERY interesting to see the effect gaming has on ADD. Many have believed it helped to cause the disease but I've always thought that with anything that requires such focus, such attention to detail, such determination, how can this do anything but HELP attention spans?

Well, perhaps only with certain games. I doubt playing seventy billion rounds of CoD online would do much to help; i.e., "twitch gaming" just feeds into the problem. Just a personal theory, of course.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 4:28:50 PM

Glad to hear videogames are helping your son Highlander. Far too often games get a bad rap. Nice to see you're able to improve your son's skills.

Will he be getting FFXIII?

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Highlander
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 5:12:23 PM

LOL, no but I will be getting FFVIII....

I remember years and years ago when someone suggested that video games were good for improving hand eye coordination. There was so much doubt and scorn. But it was true. I still remain cynical over video games and physical exercise. But video games can definitely exercise your brain. Not just those 'games' that are aimed at exercising the brain. I mean virtually any game that takes strategic planning and decision making. You have to perform critical thinking and reasoning to make a sound decision. You're mentally performing similar exercises to those a chess player performs. I've always heard people talk of chess as a mental challenge and exercise. Why not video games?

Ben
Regarding ADD and video games. Vidfeo games create a reward cycly so you get near instant reward for efforts in game. There is some research that suggests ADD may be linked in someway to differences in how people feel that sense of reward. The theory is that ADD people do not feel rewarded and get bored more quickly. But in a videogame, the structure of a game is designed to reward the player and keep rewarding them so they keep coming back for more. For an ADD patient that could be a very welcome thing. In my personal experience as someone who is ADD I think that this theory has merit. In my working life when my job profile included many short duration tasks of great variety with an immediate pay off at the end, I enjoyed my work immensely. As I moved up the ladder, tasks became longer and rewards became more abstract and distant. It's hard to maintain motivation - and focus - when you do not feel any sense of reward for your efforts.

Last edited by Highlander on 1/27/2010 5:24:57 PM

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 5:25:30 PM

Depends on the videogame IMO. RTS for sure but a fighting game..meh.

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NonProphet
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 2:28:34 PM
Reply

It may be that on a chemical and neurological level, gamers are well-trained to adapt and respond to intense situations because when we are really focused on game and are in a life or death scenario, on a chemical level our brains may behave as if we are in an actual life or death situation even though cognitively we aware we are just playing a game. So perhaps we have neurological pathways that are specifically tasked with high-pressure, split-second decisions, and as a result of our gaming, they are slightly more developed. Or something.

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vicious54
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 2:31:36 PM
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Just play Demon's Souls, that will teach you the importance of staying alive.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 4:26:37 PM

It taught me to be humble.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 5:42:04 PM

LV hows that going for you? ;)

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 5:53:54 PM

No comment.

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bigrailer19
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 5:57:47 PM

Just checking!


Last edited by bigrailer19 on 1/27/2010 6:00:44 PM

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Hezzron
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 2:42:26 PM
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Video games aren't as dumb as out-of-touch people would like to make them out to be. Just like doing math in school, video games probably do exercise your brain somewhat.......except with less numbers and more fun.

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Shatterday
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 3:32:32 PM
Reply

It's always nice to have some more ammunition to use against people who hear that all you did was play a game for 24 straight hours last weekend, and automatically think you're a bum...

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 3:51:12 PM

...you did what now?

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 4:24:22 PM

You're a bum if you did such a thing.

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Alienange
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 5:45:40 PM

What a disgrace... there's 48 hours to play games on the weekend!

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 4:25:58 PM
Reply

I think the genre of game someone plays says a lot. An RTS or an RPG require more thinking than the latest Madden or GOW game.

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Cuetes
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 4:46:03 PM
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Thanks for this ben, I'm doing a research project on video games and it's connection to violence. This is a very good example of how video games can be positive and helpful.

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Snaaaake
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 5:21:34 PM
Reply

Playing FFVIII improved my basic English because of all the dialogue and when there are words I don't understand I either ignore it or get my little Oxford.

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Alienange
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 5:57:05 PM
Reply

Considering video games originated with the military I'm not really surprised by these kind of statements from them. I wonder, will gamers one day rise up and save the world from oppression? Would be ironic don't you think? Headlines would read: "Gaming Nations United frees non gaming nations from the grip of terror!"

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 6:10:06 PM

You're crazy, humans will eventually grow balls and press the shiny red button that once and for all eliminates our species on planet earth.

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Alienange
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 10:40:49 PM

Yeah you're right... Why the hell would gamers save non-gamers?

Anyways, whatever happens, don't call me, I've got games to finish.

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LimitedVertigo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 11:14:09 PM

No worries, I'm hoping I get to push the button and sit on the nuke as it launches.

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Akuma07
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 9:30:16 PM

I think the following headline is more likely...


"Gaming Nation annihilates Non-Gaming Nations"

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sunspider13
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 6:28:20 PM
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Now we know who will survive the coming zombie apocalypse...nice find Ben.

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Gamer Girl Gemo
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 @ 10:03:35 PM
Reply

Take THAT Ron Jeremy! Ha and ha :P
Most of us here grew up with video games and look how we turned out! Er... Bad example... Oh well, who says you can't be a dork AND have fun with it? As Gamestop says, Power. To. The. Players!

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___________
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 12:02:02 AM
Reply

hmmmmm theres a reason why they call it the idiot box.
ive always been wondering why im such a good arguer, unlike my parents they normally give in quite easily.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 12:28:25 AM

You're good at arguing?

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Highlander
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 1:05:39 AM

@LV
ROTFLMAOTFVF!!

Surgical precision.

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Vitron
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 1:12:09 AM

mine just get angry when they're starting to lose their argument

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___________
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 1:55:55 AM

pro.
good enough in fact to teach a uni degree on it.

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bigrailer19
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 2:40:20 AM

Dont say that.

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LimitedVertigo
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 3:25:52 AM

DeVry?

Last edited by LimitedVertigo on 1/28/2010 3:26:10 AM

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MysteriousMagus
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 4:40:41 AM
Reply

I learned my English because of video games!
If i wasn't constantly playing games in English (because it's hard to get games on spanish in South America).

I was forced to play them in English, slowly I started taking classes. However, most of the knowledge i earned it comes from them!

SO hurray for video games! Without them I wouldn't be so smart and here in Australia!

BTW I hate maths! :P

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Day_v
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 10:00:19 AM
Reply

I have learnerd about world events, places and generally improved my I.Q because of playing games for the last 13 yrs.

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Akuma07
Thursday, January 28, 2010 @ 9:28:08 PM
Reply

I completely agree with Day_v

I have done the same.

Roughly 50% of my knowledge comes from video games and/or movies/tv shows.

Laugh at that all you want, but it's the truth.

This is coming from someone with an above average IQ.

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