Nintendo WiiPlaying video games might not be a complete waste of time – at least according to a study published in the online journal PLOS ONE. Researchers at the University of Rome in Italy found that training laparoscopic surgeons using on a Nintendo Wii™, in addition to their standard learning, could be “helpful, inexpensive and entertaining.”

For the study, the university’s Department of Surgical Science worked with 42 first and second year post-graduate residents, all specializing in general, vascular or endoscopic surgery. The participants were tested on a laparoscopic simulator in order to evaluate their performance on certain parameters. They were then randomly placed in one of two groups. One group received additional training with the Nintendo Wii™, and the other did not.

Training included playing Wii™ Sports Tennis, Wii™ Table Tennis and Battle. The games were chosen because they require high demands of:

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Depth perception
  • Movement precision
  • 3D visualization

Surgical residents in the Wii™ group received training on the video game console five days a week for an hour each day. After four weeks, the participants underwent another testing session on the laparoscopic simulator. When results from the first session were compared to those of the second, researchers found that residents receiving training with the Wii™ showed greater improvement, particularly in performance metrics such as “economy of instruments movements” and “efficient cautery.”

With the study showing such positive results, other resident training programs around the world could notice and start implementing Wii™ training at their own facilities.