Your Video Gaming Skills Could Earn Big Bucks in This Industry Looking for Workers

Video gaming skills could be valuable in a rapidly growing industry with a deficit of qualified people, finds new study.

Video gaming often gets a bad rap, blamed for violent content and spearheading societal degradation. Now in some positive news, it turns out video gamers are developing some skills that are marketable IRL, in real life. A new study from researchers at the University of Liverpool found that video gamers can fly drones better than professional pilots. 

Drones have become an ever-growing reality of our daily lives, so much so that there is currently a deficit of qualified pilots. The military, in particular, has a constant need for people to operate the drones it uses for tasks like surveillance, targeting and dropping explosives.

The study, led by Dr. Jacqueline Wheatcroft, focused on three groups of potential pilots of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or drones. These included video game players (VGPs), private pilots and professional pilots. Why were the gamers involved? It turns out they have many crossover skills - hand-eye coordination and rapid processing of information. 

60 participants (51 males and 9 females) underwent a series of exercises, where they had to make 21 decisions that carried potential risks, all while flying a simulation of a civilian cargo flight. An increase in danger led to a decrease in the levels of confidence and accuracy of the participants. In dangerous situations, the subjects had to decide whether to intervene rather than to rely on automation. Confidence in decision-making during such situations was lower for all groups.

Researchers concluded that gamers and professional pilots were the most confident decision-makers, with the gamers showing the best judgment.  In fact, VGPs were quite cool-headed, exhibiting strong confidence and accuracy over a number of varying tasks. 

“Understanding which potential supervisory group has the best skills to make the best decisions can help improve UAS supervision. Overall, video game players were less overconfident in their decision judgements,” said Dr. Wheatcroft. “The outcome supports the idea that this group could be a useful resource in UAS operation.”

Dr. Wheatcroft added that automation does not eliminate humans from the equation completely - it transforms their role from “operator to supervisor.” 

“Such transformation means that the workload of the human supervisor is not necessarily reduced but instead requires cognitive resource and skills to be applied across a different set of tasks,” she explained.

This is where gamers come in - they have the necessary cognitive resources and skills. 

“VGPs exhibit some skills that may be required in successful UAS supervision, particularly as they are least likely to exhibit overconfidence in decision judgements,” she concluded.

Check out the study here, published in Cogent Psychology.

If you want to become a drone pilot for the U.S. Air Force, it's currently giving out the maximum bonus of $35,000 a year to drone pilots - totalling $175,000 on a 5-year contract. But make sure to weigh the psychological risks, as this piece from Vice makes clear. A 2013 trade group report projected more than 100,000 new jobs in unmanned aircraft by 2025.

Check out this write-up by The Atlantic for more on how to become a commercial drone pilot. Drone pilots earn from a starting salary of $50-60,000 to well over $100K if they fly for larger companies.

You can also join the Drone Racing League, with contracts up to $100,000.

How getting in sync with your partner can lead to increased intimacy and sexual desire

Researchers discover a link between nonverbal synchronization and relationship success.

Sex & Relationships
  • Scientists say coordinating movements leads to increased intimacy and sexual desire in a couple.
  • The improved rapport and empathy was also observed in people who didn't know each other.
  • Non-verbal clues are very important in the development stages of a relationship.
Keep reading Show less

How humans evolved to live in the cold

Humans evolved to live in the cold through a number of environmental and genetic factors.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Surprising Science
  • According to some relatively new research, many of our early human cousins preceded Homo sapien migrations north by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
  • Cross-breeding with other ancient hominids gave some subsets of human population the genes to contend and thrive in colder and harsher climates.
  • Behavioral and dietary changes also helped humans adapt to cold climates.
Keep reading Show less

Stan Lee, Marvel co-creator, is dead at 95

The comics titan worked for more than half a century to revolutionize and add nuance to the comics industry, and he built a vast community of fans along the way.

(Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Culture & Religion
  • Lee died shortly after being rushed to an L.A. hospital. He had been struggling with multiple illnesses over the past year, reports indicate.
  • Since the 1950s, Lee has been one of the most influential figures in comics, helping to popularize heroes that expressed a level of nuance and self-doubt previously unseen in the industry.
  • Lee, who's later years were marked by some financial and legal tumult, is survived by his daughter, Joan Celia "J.C." Lee.
Keep reading Show less