Gamers bring hand-eye skills to work

Photo credit: ChrisBravoTown on Flickr

Electronic gaming gets a bad rap in many circles, but union rep Herb Conat thinks students’ gaming skills are bringing benefits to the workplace.

According to Herb, students who play video games are more skilled at using the joysticks on heavy machinery than students who don’t game.

“It’s just remarkable. Some of these students would blow you away,” says Herb, who – like these young people – was only 16 when he got his first job operating heavy machines. Today, in his early 50s, he’s still playing an active role in the industry as a union rep for members of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 115.

“The ergonomics of today’s machines – the hand joysticks and stuff like that – are all things these kids use for gaming. They’re not designing them for old guys. They’re designing them for the young person who’s been playing with joysticks since they were a child…” Herb says.

Herb is one of the organizers of “Heavy Metal Rocks” – a hands-on career program for Grade 11 and 12 students who want to try heavy construction and road building equipment.

These lucky students can actually get behind the wheel of some mighty machines – once they have the right training and safety preparation. They get WHMIS training, Level 1 Occupational First Aid certification, and a site-safety orientation from a WorkSafeBC officer who also gives them their own personal safety equipment.

Scientists study effects of gaming

For years, scientists have looked at how video games affect people – especially kids – who play them. For example, a study published in Current Directions in Psychological Science shows that: “the very act of playing action video games significantly reduces reaction times without sacrificing accuracy.”

What do you think, parents? Does this make you feel better about your kids’ gaming?


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