Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Life

Game on

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 01 March 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:0503120
  1. Sadat Edroos, final year student1
  1. 1Warwick Medical School

Video games are for kids only, right? Wrong! Sadat Edroos explains how such games have evolved from mere toys into potential learning aids

Level one—introduction

In the time it's taken most new doctors to make the journey from cradle to house officer, things have changed dramatically. Computers, email, MP3 players; all seemed apparently to make life easier, happier, quicker and more entertaining. Among all the diversions the electronic world offers, none can be more pointless, costly, engaging, or compulsive than video games.


More than an infantile compulsion, video games are big business. Fiscally the business as a whole has often been quoted on a par with the Hollywood movie industry. The average age of a video game player has changed, too. The first video games were largely made for children, but the Nintendo generation of the 1980s has now grown into their 20s and 30s.12

Technology has matured in leaps and bounds. The graphics of early games were limited by technical constraints and bear little similarity to the photo-realism of today. A prime example is Super Mario, lead character of Nintendo's consoles, whose appearance has transformed over the years. 3 In his first appearance, he was given a hat to hide the fact that the console couldn't draw hair. Nowadays it would be possible to draw every hair on his head.

With a combination of an older audience and the ability to make more realistic games, many games are now made exclusively for adult players, with titles such as Resident Evil4 being awarded “18” certificates based on their “interactive horror movie” content. As the video game generation enter their mid-20s, the long term effects of a youth spent in front of games consoles are only now coming to light.

Level two—changing the way we see the world

Too much of anything can be bad for …

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