The Top Nine Ways Video Games Save Lives

January 11, 2010

Thanks to infamous and now disbarred Florida attorney Jack Thompson, the majority of parents absent and clueless in their children's lives now believe video games are responsible for school shootings, random murders, and any number of tragedies. Not only is this complete and utter dirge, playing video games just might save your life.

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By John Scrovak

9.  Crossing The Street Gets Fun!


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In all honesty, I'm fairly certain this game sucks.  Then again, I'm the sort of gamer who would rather be fragging Nazis, Russkies, and commies in an FPS.  If I were about four or five years old, though, I would totally be down to play some Code Of EverlandCode of Everland is an MMORPG created and sponsored by the British government as part of the THINK! campaign.  THINK! is aimed at teaching young children how to cross the road, to prevent the deaths caused by a child wandering into the street and being struck by a vehicle.  This safety lesson, disguised as a fun game, is just the thing needed to save these children's lives.  Anyone who would protest the benefit of video games very obviously hates children, and hopes they get hit by cars.


8.  Raise Money For Disease Research


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Whether you've played a game a thousand times and gotten tired of it, or you beat it once, chances are you've got an old video game lying around you want to get rid of.  You could take it to some place like Gamestop and get credit for it (credit which amounts to less than the cost of gas to actually get it there), or you can donate it.  Yup, accepts donated video games, which it resells at a discount price.  The catch?  100% of proceeds go to research cures and fighting rare diseases.  There really is no way to get more lifesaving than this.  Actively donating to help fight rare diseases?  Surely, even Jack Thompson could get behind an effort like that!


7.  Treating Dozens of Burn Victims


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Hospitals are generally a great place to go for medical help.  Certainly better than Uncle Ned and his Robitussin and "booster shots."  As great as they are, they can not all be as well equipped and trained in as many areas as others.  For example if you were to fall down and hit your head while climbing glaciers in Alaska, the nearest level 1 trauma center is in Washington state.  Similarly, hospital burn wards are not very large, as burns do not occur as frequently as Emergency Room visits.  What happens, though, when a refinery explodes, an entire beach population falls asleep under the sun, or Steven Segal becomes a cop?  That's right, many fiery deaths, especially from underprepared hospitals.

Enter Burn CenterBurn Center is a game developed to help nurses, doctors, and surgeons deal with large scale, worst-case-scenario events in which dozens, or even hundreds, of patients would come in with severe burns.  The life-like game takes them through the triage, procedures, prioritization of care, and treatments of each patient, so if something like an explosion at a theme park were to occur, the medical professionals at the nearest hospital would be able to maximize the lives saved. Note that this does not help if Steven Segal both becomes a cop, and enters the hospital in question.


6. Military Trains Soldiers in Theaters They Don't Fight In


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The U.S. military has used video games and combat simulators for years to train soldiers, sailors, pilots, and marines for everything they could face in the field.  While these simulations have yet to cover the zombie apocalypse, rest assured, they probably will someday.  Seriously, they need to.  That's the threat no one will know how to handle, and where the military will be needed most.

Until then, the Army's PEOSTRI organization has released an entire library of new video games as tools for the soldiers.  Rather than combat, these games specialize in training military personnel for the cultures involved in every possible theater they could fight in.  The purpose of this training is to familiarize troops with cultures to understand the processes behind the local military, leadership, etc. in order to more tactically eliminate resistance with minimal loss of life on either side.  This is quite possibly the first case in which video games help eliminate war, once again proving the geeks superior to dirty hippies.

5. Play Video Games, Fight Cancer


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It's now official.  Whosoever opposes video games now supports cancer.  Extra Life, an event sponsored by Sarcastic Gamer, is a Texas-based lock-in for gamers.  Gaming consoles and games are provided.  Game fuel is provided in the form of sodas and chips.  For about $42, you get locked into a performing arts center where you stay up all night gaming.  Where does the cancer come in, you ask?  100% of proceeds go straight into the coffers of the Texas Children's Cancer Fund.  By staying up all night gaming, you are effectively battling children's cancer.  And commies, Nazis, aliens, and zombies.  Fight cancer and support video games.

4.  Video Game Console Detects Heart Problems


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Forget the Wii fit!  Thanks to Simon Scarle, a bit of software he wrote, and a graphics chip he tweaked, the Xbox 360 is the latest console in home health.  This does not come from any particular games, packages, or anything commercially available.  Yet.  What it does, however, is replace networks consisting of dozens of PCs and supercomputers used by hospitals to detect issues like heart arrhythmia.  Lacking a medical background, the best detail I could give you, dear reader, about this fancy modification is that it detects the electrical signals generated in the human heart, and can pinpoint (and illustrate) damaged heart cells.  If that's not the most amazing console out there that's not a PC, I don't know what is.


3.  Game Helps Teens Fight Leukemia


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Apparently there's an issue these days with trying to get kids and teens to take their medicine.  Whether it's popping Flintstone vitamins, taking their leukemia medicine, or putting the lotion on its skin, kids aren't exactly as prudent as could be.  That's why Hope Lab developed Re-mission, a cleverly titled game teaching players about their leukemia, and battling cancer.  Game players blast leukemia cells, save patients, and all the while get their therapy impressed on them, according to several doctors studying its effects.  In fact, they've even seen positive results through this enablement and control over the disease, especially when it comes to adherence to their medication regimen.  Thanks to Hope Labs, video games now fight cancer, and any move to ban video games would be an obvious move to ban cancer treatment.


2.  WoW Experience Helped Norwegian Boy Save Sister From Moose


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When he and his sister were hiking in the woods behind their Norwegian home, Hans Jørgen Olsen saw a moose about to attack his sister.  Thinking back to World of Warcraft, he used skills he claimed to have learned in game.  He used "taunt" to draw the moose's attention, so his sister could escape.  As the moose came close, to attack the boy, the boy used "feign death."  When the moose noticed this boy who was apparently dead now, it lost interest and ran off, proving that WoW is largely responsible for the life of Olsen's sister.  Perhaps more importantly, it serves it to prove once and for all that Hunters in World of Warcraft really are a bunch of 12-year-olds.


1.  Triage Accident Victim


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The game America's Army, funded and developed by the United States Army, is a first person shooter game with a lot of training.  Real training, as it turns out.  For example, you have to go through boot camp before you can play multiplayer, you have to go through special forces training before you can play as a special forces unit, and you have to go through basic medic training before you can become a medic unit.  The medic training, as long and boringly informative as it is (What do you expect, it's a government-funded video game), is actually useful.  How?  Why, just ask Paxton Galvanek

Galvanek played as a medic, so he had gone through the medic training.  When he was driving down the road one day and saw an SUV roll over, he got out to help.  How did he know what to do?  In a letter he wrote to the America's Army team, he credits the game with teaching him how to dress the injured man's arm, treat his head wound, and keep the man's arm elevated to he wouldn't lose too much blood.  Now Galvanek had never received prior medical training, and America's Army was the extent of his medical knowledge.  Without the training he received from that video game, the accident victim could very well have died from blood loss.