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  1. #1

    New study: Gaming is good for you!

    At least for your English grades, says new study from University of Helsinki:

    http://yle.fi/uutiset/news/2011/11/w...g_3013236.html

    Not so sure if this applies to native English speakers though...

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Rii's Avatar
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    Is it my imagination or are those silhouettes getting fatter as gaming time increases?

    The actual findings are to be expected I think. More exposure to a language = better grasp of that language.

    I guess my only real surprise would be that gaming alone would make a significant different to one's language diet. Isn't English pretty pervasive throughout the general internets also?
    Last edited by Rii; 09-11-2011 at 11:13 AM.

  3. #3
    Lesser Hivemind Node TillEulenspiegel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rii View Post
    Isn't English pretty pervasive throughout the general internets also?
    I think that's more likely to hurt your language skills.

    Steam's language switcher is a big, big reason I often prefer to get my games there. Lately I've been working through games like Fallout 3 and the Mass Effects in Italian. (Oh, and Diablo II - Blizzard's download service with the new language-changing feature is also great.) It's been extremely helpful.

  4. #4
    Network Hub Antares's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rii View Post
    Isn't English pretty pervasive throughout the general internets also?
    Yes and no. While I can't speak for every single non-native, I can speak for the french-speaking ones, and the truth is that the vast majority of them stick to french websites regardless of what it is they're looking for.
    I work in IT, which is about as english-dominated an industry as it gets, and most of my colleagues will still prioritize websites like developpez or siteduzero when they have a work-related question. This is not helped by the way that Google "helpfully" suggests French search results if it so much as suspects you might not be a native yourself, even for searches worded in english.

    As to the article itself, while I definitely recognize myself in what it describes (IIRC the first English word I learned outside of the classroom was "shotgun", which is very fitting) I'll add a caveat, though: This effect the researchers noted obviously only applies when gaming in English, either because the game itself is in English or because the online community surrounding it is English-dominated without any linguistic "ghettos" for non-natives to congregate to, and this is, in my experience, increasingly not the case.

    I do not know why this is true of Finland, though, and would be interested of hearing from a Finn on this matter. I would suspect that they either do not have much choice in terms of dubbing, or that they are open enough to English that they could probably pick up the same language skills by just spending the same amount of time reading English books or watching undubbed movies.

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    For me it definitely was a major help. I started with cartoons (though I'd watch them only sporadically at relatives because where I was living we didn't have cable) and then moved on to PC games, and WoW at like 13/14 (which was when I got my first Internet connection) which really helped me understand the language better. This was all done unconsciously as I never tried to "learn" the language and didn't do English at school until high-school (which wasn't that helpful either since the rest of the class was so bad the lessons just stagnated). But in high-school my English was good enough to see me win the national Olympiad for English language and now it's good enough that I'm studying in the UK.
    Hurrah for gaming!

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    Hmm, well the opportunity cost that isn't being taken into account, is it? If you're not playing games, you're interacting with people, or reading books, or watching T.V.

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    Lesser Hivemind Node Kaira-'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antares View Post
    I do not know why this is true of Finland, though, and would be interested of hearing from a Finn on this matter. I would suspect that they either do not have much choice in terms of dubbing, or that they are open enough to English that they could probably pick up the same language skills by just spending the same amount of time reading English books or watching undubbed movies.
    Very rarely any movies or TV-series (not to speak about video games!) get dubbed here, and those are mainly aimed for children, everything else uses subtitles, so the sound of English pretty much permeates through our "media atmosphere" effectively. Also, teaching English begins when kids are around 10 years old, which makes some pretty good basework for learning English. Myself, I learned pretty much before my 10th birthday because of playing Super Mario Bros. 64 with my father, who tried to translate things to me, but he was so damn slow that I grew frustrated. Though I've always been pretty linguistic person (Swedish, German, French and English), so I'd say I'm not an 'average' Finn.

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  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Rii's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamster View Post
    Hmm, well the opportunity cost that isn't being taken into account, is it? If you're not playing games, you're interacting with people, or reading books, or watching T.V.
    Whose side are you on? :P

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    I'm not from Finland, but Sweden has a similar tradition of not dubbing foreign films and television and we also start studying English quite early. It's an obligatory subject from 3rd to 9th grade (9-15 years old) in primary school and more or less everyone getting a theoretical education (and quite a few technical ones) in secondary school will have two or three more years of studying English there.

    There are a few things about gaming that I think helped me a lot with becoming better at English.

    The first is that usually when reading a text or watching a film it doesn't really matter if there are a few words or sentences you don't understand. As long as you get the bigger picture you can still enjoy the experience just fine. Same thing goes for school. You can usually work around things you aren't sure about. In computer games on the other hand, especially adventure games, understanding the details of what's going on and what you have to do is often very important. I'd have a dictionary next to me while playing Lucasarts games when I was young.

    The second is the social aspect of gaming. Something I've noticed about Swedish people (and other Scandinavians as well) is that we're good at understanding spoken and written English and we usually don't have any problems with things like writing a letter, but we often have little practice actually speaking the language. In school you spend a lot of time learning words, pronunciation and grammar but you don't really learn how to have a conversation. In-game chat systems and even more so voice chat has made me much, much better at using English as a conversational language.

    Third, taking a deeper interest in games means you'll eventually start reading and writing a lot more in English, whether it's sites like RPS, forum communities, MMO guilds or clans or whatever. Games journalism especially is absolutely awful in this country so if you want quality news and musings you'll have to find places like RPS.

    It's a bit funny that these days, mostly due to the internet, the language I hear, read and write in is more often English than Swedish and I quite often find myself thinking in English. Even more worrying I'm sometimes struggling to express something in Swedish that I can articulate immediately in English. At the same time I'm nowhere near being able to use it with the practiced nonchalance one usually has with their native language, but maybe some day. :)

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antares View Post
    (IIRC the first English word I learned outside of the classroom was "shotgun", which is very fitting)
    I was wondering if our SAT exams would start using "fag" and "noob" on the vocabulary sections.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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  12. #12
    There are a few other studies regarding gaming and it's potential benefits. One study showed that playing "action video games" in this case a first person shooter, increases visual "contrast sensitivity" which is the ability to rapidly distinguish colors and shades from one another. The control for this was another "non-action" video game (the Sims I believe) which showed no improvement in subjects. That study was published in Nature Neuroscience 2 years ago: http://www.nature.com/neuro/journal/...l/nn.2296.html

    Another study showed action video games improves decision making reaction time. One might think that perhaps video gamers were "trigger happy" but they actually found that these faster responses were actually also more accurate. This study was publish ed in Current Biology http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...60982210009425
    Last edited by herbbread; 18-11-2011 at 04:34 AM.

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