The zombie is five steps away, you're cornered, and you've got one last bullet in the chamber. If you were just playing Super Mario Galaxy you might as well turn the gun on yourself. A recent highly scientific study found that when it comes to putting a bullet in a humanoid target's brain, Super Mario Galaxy doesn't help.
Researchers at Ohio State University lead by communication grad student Jodi Whitaker and professor of communication and psychology Brad Bushman recently had 151 students play three different video games in order to prove whether those games had a profound effect on subjects' firearms accuracy. Previous studies have shown that games can enhance players' projectile weapon skills, and the military has used interactive entertainment to hone said skills in the past.
So why bring the subject up again?
The researchers, after gauging subjects' aggression levels and attitudes towards games and guns, split the students up into three groups. One group played Resident Evil 4, a violent game that rewards headshots, using either a standard controller or a gun-shaped device. Another group played Wii Play's non-violent target practice game. The third group played Super Mario Galaxy.
I can only conclude that these researchers are gunning (pardon the pun) for Super Mario Galaxy, perhaps in an attempt to rob Nintendo of lucrative government contracts that probably don't exist.
After a 20 minute session with their particular game, subjects were given an Airsoft training pistol filled with Velcro-covered pellets and asked to fire 16 times at a 1.8m tall humanoid mannequin six metres away down a narrow corridor. So yes, best test ever.
Shooters that played Resident Evil 4 with a gun-shaped controller averaged seven head shots per session, hitting the brain case more than any other part of the body.
"We didn't tell them where to aim - we just told them to try to hit the mannequin," Bushman said. "But the violent shooting game they played rewarded head shots, and so they shot at the mannequin like they were playing the game, aiming for the head."
Good for them.
The Super Mario Galaxy players, on the other hand, managed only two headshots per session, with an average of four shots to other parts of the body, the lowest of any group.
It bears noting that the results were similar across each group regardless of the participants' history of video game playing and shooting guns at people-shaped objects.
The conclusion? Super Mario Galaxy sucks as weapons training. Or, as Bushman puts it, "The more frequently one plays violent shooting games, the more accurately one fires a realistic gun and aims for the head, although we can't tell from this study which factor is the cause." Then what good is it?
"We shouldn't be too quick to dismiss violent video games as just harmless fun in a fantasy world - they can have real-world effects."
Oh, this is one of those studies. The Live Science article even refers to Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian man who shot and killed 69 people at a youth camp in Norway last year.
Too bad he wasn't a Nintendo fan.
Violent Video Games Improve Real Shooting Accuracy [Live Science]