Cyber-World ‘Training’ Reaps Real-World Rewards



Cyber-World ‘Training’ Reaps Real-World

Michael Lafferty

Ask anyone who has been in the same situation and they
will tell you that there is no way to adequately explain the rush of adrenaline,
the sense of fear and the mental acuteness that they experienced.

Winter is the nemesis of any driver. What one day, in
another season, is a pleasure to drive, with the advent of winter can turn
into a moment of extreme unpleasantness, and even terror.

The truck, one winter morning not long past, turned onto
the interstate on-ramp, heading for the daily jaunt to work. The road seemed
clear – maybe a little wet, but otherwise the traction appeared solid. But what treachery black ice can cause. No sooner had I begun to accelerate
to speed acceptable to merge with interstate traffic than I found myself
in a sliding 45-degree angle heading toward the embankment, posts and fencing.

I corrected quickly, only to find the slide aiming my
vehicle at 45-degrees in the other direction, the interstate approaching
rapidly. The vehicle behind me, a quick check told me that it had seen
the unseen predicament I faced, had backed off considerably. No gas was
applied, no brakes, nothing to interfere with the battle between driver
and out-of-control machine.

Think back to those days in driver’s ed; the way you tried
to learn against an uncaring, unresponsive video played upon the screen.
The only true teacher is experience. Those lessons were long ago.

However, there was a remedial course, thanks to computer
software and hardware acting in harmony to sharpen reflexes.

Thank you to all the software programmers who have created
great software, and thank you to the peripheral developers who created
devices that allow the fast reflexive action of game play to be transferred
so wonderfully to the computer.

In my case, it was the ACT LABS RS Force Steering Wheel
and Southpeak Interactive’s Breakneck that enabled me to correct and merge
with the interstate traffic without injury – either to my vehicle or myself.

Refresher courses are something that everyone needs to
be a complete driver. The situations faced most of the year differ dramatically
in the winter. We sometimes feel we are not in control of our own fates.
But using a force feedback wheel, battling the elements and other drivers
in a safe setting – like a software program – can be rewarding when faced
with the real-life situations we all face.

Look at it this way: in order to do something well, to
excel or just be prepared, constant preparation and training is necessary.
Had I not had the opportunity to ‘practice’ in a game situation, I might
easily have lost control and cause serious damage when real life reared
its unpredictable head.

More than anything, that experience has reinforced my
opinion that some of the ‘games’ we play can have practical applications and
benefits in life.

My child plays these games, and I’m sure that the benefits
will play dividends when she begins to drive. For me, I thank ACT LABS
and game makers for the realism they have put into their products, allowing
off-world training and practice that made a difference in the real world.

Storms rage across the nation, creating hazards we can’t
even imagine or prepare for when conditions are perfect. But thanks to
the joys experienced in the cyber realm, we can sharpen those reflexes
and they do kick in when faced with the uncertainty of real-life hazards.

It was stated once, not many years ago, that today’s new
breed of jet pilots are quicker and steadier than those in generations
past. The reason given was the advent of computer games that enabled young
players to develop reflexive skills better than their forefathers.
I believe that, and would welcome the contrary opinions
of any caring to challenge that opinion. My reflexes saved me a hefty repair
bill, and an insurance rate hike.

I personally feel I am better for having played games.

And as the future of gaming becomes more seeded in integrating
the real with the cyber, we will all benefit.

Now, this is not a sermon on preaching to those few who
would usurp the pleasures of cyber gaming to developing skills to commit
acts of violence (for that bent sense of mind will reap its own rewards),
but a message to the parents and older players who understand responsible
gaming and the benefit of what it can bring. Consider the wealth of software
that teaches, trains and informs. Through that simple machine you use to
keep connected or to write, illustrate graphically or simply play, you
can also improve your diet, or increase your knowledge base.

And then there are the games.

Games can be a lot of fun, in the proper frame of mind,
and do reap benefits, in terms of improved reflexes and quick resolution
of situations that can mean a choice between accident and trained safety.

Do you like puzzle games? There is a benefit in that.
Even strategic games can help you to consider options on a moment’s notice
and make clear-minded decisions.

But for now, and the toll that winter takes on drivers,
my hat’s off (don’t wear hats – too much hair, for the time being) to two
companies who helped me prepare for what I face each day.

Thanks to ACT LABS, and Southpeak – not only do I thank
you, my truck and insurance broker also thank you.