Athletes, military find video games educational |

Athletes, military find video games educational

Video games are rarely acknowledged as learning tools. But many of them are, in ways that we are just beginning to understand.

The concept holds no surprise for professional athletes and the military, who have long recognized the value of games for learning and recognizing strategies, and solving problems on the fly.

For example, peek inside the Steelers’ South Side practice facility, where the Sony PS2 and the latest version of Electronic Arts’ “Madden” titles are staples of recreation. Many Steelers spend hours playing the game to formulate a better understanding of both the Steelers’ own and opposition schemes. In fact, head coach Bill Cowher is a noted fan of the “Madden” series, and star players such as Joey Porter swear by it as a training tool for younger players and veterans alike.

Steven Johnson, author of “Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today’s Pop Culture Is Actually Making You Smarter,” sees similar advantages in his own favorite sport.

“I play golf in real life, and golf simulations have gotten so good that I think there’s no question you can improve your game with them,” he says. “Especially if you’re playing one of the same courses that are in this game, because they map these courses’ topography down to the inch.

“So much of golf is visualization — the ability to stand over the ball and see the shot (especially in the short game), and if you’ve been playing one of these games, they simulate the physics of this world so well. If you play 10 hours of computer golf, and go out on the course, you’re definitely going to play better. There’s no question about it.”

The military, too, has developed video game-like simulators, training everyone from fighter pilots to infantry squad leaders in the latest tactics. “Full Spectrum Warrior,” based on one of the Army’s games, forces players to learn to use cover in an environment, move your squads in a coordinated fashion, and figure out the best route to the objective.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review staff writer Rob Rossi contributed to this report

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.