Millions of original Nintendo Wii consoles are currently sitting, unplayed in months, on TV stands around the world. The console was the most successful since the PlayStation 2 launched in 2000, but its time has come and passed in the eyes of most gamers. Heck, the Wii’s successor, the Wii U, isn’t exactly flying off shelves at the moment. Motion-controlled gaming was all the rage and then, suddenly, a mere afterthought.
There’s still one community that’s getting a lot of use out of their Wiis, though: medical students. A new study out of University of Rome suggests that surgeons who play Wii for an hour a day perform significantly better in real surgery situations.
The study asked 21 resident surgeons to spend 60 minutes a day playing Wii games and then tested their ability to perform laparoscopic surgery (which involves tiny incisions and cameras inserted inside the body) against those who didn’t play games. Those who played Wii showed a better ability to perform three-dimensional movements with their hands based on the two-dimensional feedback they got from a video screen.
The surgeons in the study played three games: Wii Tennis, Wii Table Tennis and High Altitude Battle. These games were chosen because they required hand and arm motions similar to those required by surgery. Interestingly, games like the Trauma Center series, in which gamers play as a doctor working in a fictional medical center, weren’t considered useful for this experiment (possibly because most of those games suck).
The researchers who performed the study say that they hope their findings will lead to the Wii, and perhaps similar video game products like the Kinect, beinge used as an inexpensive means of improving surgeons’ abilities around the world.