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Rocket League among games found to help surgeons improve their skills

Playing video games can be an amazing way for surgeons, especially those who perform robotic and laparoscopic surgery, to hone their skills for the operating room, according to new research. Several games have been identified as particularly useful for surgeons and medical students, including the successful title Rocket League.

The research comes from medical student Arnav Gupta of the University of Ottawa and researchers from the University of Toronto, who analyzed 16 different studies involving 575 people. The findings indicated that playing video games can serve as “valuable auxiliary training” for medical students who plan to specialize in surgery.

The benefits were more associated with robotic surgery, according to the study, and included things like an increase in movement economy, completion time and overall surgeon performance. Similar improvements have also been identified in relation to laparoscopic surgery, including an increase in accuracy, the amount of time required for certain tasks, economy of movement and the surgeon’s overall performance.

In describing how video games can offer benefits, Gupta explained:

While video games can never replace the value of first-hand experience, they do have merit as an auxiliary tool, especially when trying to replicate important movements for surgery. For example, first-person shooter games require you to translate three-dimensional movements on a two-dimensional screen, which is like the concept of laparoscopic surgery.

Certain games have been found to offer potential benefits for students planning to specialize in laparoscopic and robotic surgeries, including Half Life, Underground, Rocket League and Super Monkey Ball. They’re not the only games that can be beneficial, however, with Gupta noting, “I’m not kidding when I say that games like Fortnite have the potential” to improve surgical skills.

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