5 Crazy Ways The Real World's Changing Thanks To Video Games
Video games aren't real life. Eating a mushroom won't make you a giant, and you'll eventually die no matter how many gold rings you hoard. But that doesn't mean games can't -- for both good and bad -- affect reality. For example ...
Games Are Killing Male Sex Drives
Some of you better go rummage around for a power-up somewhere, because you may constantly be having a hard time clearing the bedroom level. That's right, science has proven that male gamers aren't that great, sex-wise. Not that they're bad, mind; just that they never get around to doing it.
Published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, an Italian study observed that men who played video games for over an hour a day were less likely to ejaculate early. Hey, that's great news! Except that they also found that they had a lowered sex drive as well, and not simply because a heavy controller was slowly but surely crushing the life out of their testicles.
Researchers aren't even sure exactly what makes frequent gamers not want to frequent the bedroom that often. One theory is that games are too stressful. Saving the world over and over again is hard and exhausting work, after all -- just ask Clark Kent and Lois Lane's therapist.
But there's also the opposite theory, that games aren't too stressful, but too much fun. A good vigorous round of gaming can release a big enough dose of dopamine in your brain that you no longer have the impulse to get a good dose of lovin'. After all, why go out and desperately try to get laid while you can stare at Aloy's butt for an entire day?
There's some good news, though. This study also concluded that gamers and non-gamers are equally likely to stay erect, climax, and enjoy themselves in bed. So gamer sex is as good as normie sex -- whenever they can pull themselves away from Toejam And Earl or whatever the hell everybody's playing this days.
Sports Games Are Changing How Real Athletes Play
As sports video games get increasingly popular, more and more athletes spend their free time playing them. Though strangely, many of them play the virtual versions of the very games that they themselves do for realsies. That's like a farmer unwinding with a relaxing round of Stardew Valley, or a serial killer firing up GTA V after a busy day of murder. But athletes might not be playing video games solely for fun, but for strategic reasons as well.
Leading the charge in using games to up their game are soccer players, many of whom now carefully study the FIFA series to get an edge. The super realistic soccer game has carefully measured stats on all of the professional athletes, much like an RPG, giving remarkably solid data on all the real players' strengths and weaknesses. When young Arsenal striker Alex Iwobi started out, he would carefully study these stats to learn everything he needed about rival players he hadn't soccered against yet. (Are we using that word correctly?) There's no better motivation than finding out you're classified as one of the easy mini-bosses:
And there's another benefit soccer games can give the real players: perspective. No, not about how humbled they should be for achieving such fame and fortune at a young age, but literal perspective. According to LA Galaxy's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as a young buck he'd "often spot solutions in the games that [he] then parlayed into real life." Not only can games give players a better overview of their sport, but it even allows them to role-play as other players. This trick works especially well when they're emulating their idols, like how Iwobi would practice in real life all the tricks the video game version of Brazilian soccer superstar Ronaldinho would pull. Doing so made him better. Yes, he used a video game to level up in real life.
As Games Get Better, Men Want To Work Less
Being a gamer can sometimes feel a bit like a job, but unless you're a particularly talented Korean teenager, it tends to not pay any money. But more and more young men are becoming fine with that, giving up the luxuries afforded by a paying job to stay home and grind for loot all day long.
In 2017, the U.S. jobs report noted a curious trend: Fewer able-bodied men are looking for work than ever before. In 2007, 90.7 percent of guys in their workaday prime had jobs or wanted them. By 2017, that had gone down to 88.4 percent, a difference of several hundred thousand. The National Bureau of Economic Research decided to find out why, and they discovered that not only did fewer men want to work, but also that guys aged between 21 and 30 were working far less than before. In fact, they were working 203 fewer hours per year in 2015 than in 2004. And if your immediate response to that was, "Hey, that's a lot of time I could be playing Overwatch," then you might be part of the problem.
203 hours a year is about 3.9 hours per week, on average. And wouldn't you know it, the NBER, based on census data, noted that men of this age bracket were spending 3.4 hours more per week on video games than they used to. Allowing for bathroom breaks and touching themselves while God Of War takes six hours to install, video gaming covers almost all the time 20-something guys used to spend on the job.
And it's hard to see this as mere correlation. The NBER calculated the value of young men's leisure time, and found few things were deemed more valuable than games, leaving them to conclude that Mario and friends accounted for 23-46 percent of these abandoned working hours. However, it's not just that crushing your game enemies has improved greatly since the days of Mario Kart. Online communities have turned gaming into a real social platform. We now have teams or squads or parties who rely on us to put in the proper amount of raid time each week -- which, again, does make it sound like Destiny 2 and World Of Warcraft should come with their own 401(k) plans.
Besides these games putting more peer pressure on players, they're also becoming endless. Back in the day, finishing an entire game on your Dreamcast wouldn't take more than a couple of hours. However, today, lots of games take hundreds of hours to fully complete, while many online multiplayer games have no end state whatsoever, allowing you to play them without interruption until the end of time. It's becoming so easy to get sucked into gaming that it's no wonder you don't even notice the "You're fired" voicemail from your boss until weeks after the fact.
The Military Uses Games To Recruit Kids
You don't have to know exactly how many Call Of Duty titles are out there (4,275 at last count) to understand that war and video games are totes BFFs. Who knew that twitchy teenagers and soldiering would go so well together? The military did. That's why they've been using video games as recruiting tools since day one.
Since the '60s, the military has been "financing, sponsoring, and inventing the specific technology used in video games." 1962's Spacewar!, considered by many to be the first-ever video game, might have been made by a bunch of typical MIT nerds, but the whole project was bankrolled by the U.S. Army, which makes us wonder how many taxpayer bucks were put into making something that looks like a dick and balls ejaculating all over the screen.
Since then, the military has been using games like Doom to train soldiers' combat readiness and reaction speed, while also being prepared in case the leader of ISIS winds up being a murderous mechanized brain-spider. However, not content to let recruits game, they also game their recruits.
Don't act too shocked, but convincing kids to sign up to be shot at isn't easy. The pay sucks, the haircuts suck harder, and oh yeah, you might come home in a box. To up their popularity, the military has created America's Army, "the official U.S. Army game," which it hands out for free. This makes it a great propaganda tool for its favored demographic of poor and underprivileged teens. The Army links AA's website to the Go Army recruitment page multiple times. Hell, they've openly admitted that the game exists solely to sell military awesomeness to potential soldiers. They even showcase the game at recruiting stations, pretending that this is basically a simulation of soldiering life -- though none of the would-be recruits ever seem to get to the latrine-scrubbing level.
But to truly sell a skeptical kid on military life, you have to immerse them as much as possible. That's where VR technology comes in, with the Navy going so far as to set up a tractor-trailer called the Nimitz, load it with Oculus Rift gear and military games, and tour schools, beaches, and air shows with it. Shooting a gun in someone's airbrushed van while jets fly over and Bruce Springsteen plays in the background -- it doesn't get more American than that.
Naturally, the Nimitz has been a massive success. It launched in October 2016, and in just two months, it got the Navy twice as many potential recruit sign-ups as they'd had over the past two years combined. Sure, most of those were probably not ultimately deemed fit to join, but then again, they always need more drone pilots.
Games Are Used To Test Artificial Intelligence
Smart players recognize that games can teach us many valuable skills, like reasoning, hand-eye coordination, and knowing which flowers to pick to give ourselves fire powers. And it seems that the rest of the world is finally catching up, because scientists are now using video games to test a whole new kind of intelligence.
When computer scientist Artur Filipowicz was working on smart cars, he couldn't get the damn things to recognize stop signs, which some drivers might know are pretty important for road safety. So instead of sending out his robot cars into the real world and hoping they'd figure it out before mowing down too many children, he decided to upload his self-driving software into Grand Theft Auto V. Modifying his software to incorporate the game, he used GTA as a virtual training world to let his AI figure out stop signs without putting anyone real in danger, with the added bonus of the cars learning how to dodge rockets like champs.
But how about programs dealing with something squishier than cars, like humans? Games have the answer for that too, as Microsoft has tweaked Minecraft to test human/AI collaboration so that we can train our future computer overlords to perform the tasks we want them to. Soon they won't need our help building houses, digging holes, or unleashing the zombie apocalypse.
Even Starcraft II, of all things, is getting into the game. In 2017, developers DeepMind unveiled the "Starcraft II Learning Environment" tool set, which lets AI gurus use the military sci-fi chestnut to research, test, and improve their bots. Apparently, the game's focus on strategy, long-term consequences, and skill-based minigames are perfect for making AI smarter, with the slight chance that they might wind up declaring space war on something apparently deemed an acceptable risk.
It's not only software that's helping along the upcoming robot uprising, either. While it tanked as a piece of gaming hardware, Microsoft is currently using the Kinect (their failed attempt to out-Wii the Wii) and it's advanced motion sensor and voice-activated software to enhance its drones and augmented reality glasses, and even as a tool to help other developers implement Microsoft's AI. Not bad for a device mostly famous for giving us a disjointed Han Solo dancing like a stoned praying mantis.
Seriously, have you played that Star Wars Kinect game? Good lord.
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