If you’re any kind of football fan, you were probably watching Denver Broncos’ player Brandon Stokley’s unbelievable touchdown last September (NFL 2009 season). You at least saw it on Youtube afterward. Like us, you probably also noticed that his infamous last-second move looked a lot like something you’ve probably used yourself, in a videogame. Stokely himself confirmed that it was a maneuver he learned from gaming, saying, “I don’t know if subconsciously it made me do it or not.”
As Wired writes in Game Changers: How Videogames Trained a Generation of Athletes, “Today’s football players have an edge that no athletes before them have possessed: They’ve played more football than any cohort in history.” These athletes not only practice on the field, but strategize for fun in their free time through games like Madden NFL. The kids who grow up playing these video games might have extensive knowledge of the game before they even get on a football team. They learn strategies and technical terms so effective that many coaches program their playbooks into Madden and teach their athletes that way. Young athletes and professionals alike practice by “playing” their favorite NFL stars, strengthening cognitive abilities like reaction time, hand-eye coordination, and their ability to process multiple stimuli.
Its amazing to think that playing videogames can actually create better athletes, but it seems to be true, doesn’t it? Can you think of other sports in which videogames and new technologies are changing the nature of the players and the game?