Medical Content

The Impact of Video Games on Training Surgeons in the 21st Century

Sep 26, 2022

Video games have become deeply ingrained in popular culture. Individuals worldwide may now play together because of widespread Internet use and growing bandwidth availability, increasing video game popularity even more.

Simulator training—video games that demand interaction with virtual reality situations—can possibly lead to the acquisition of complicated real-life skills such as driving, flying aircraft, and even golfing.

Anecdotal evidence from young surgeons suggests that they may learn laparoscopic surgical skills faster than their elder colleagues, maybe because they were exposed to video games at a younger age and so have greater expertise with screen-mediated task execution.

The training advantages of video games for surgeons should be quantified. A study by Rosser JC et al. suggested a possible relationship between video game play and laparoscopic surgical skill and suturing.

Study design

  • A cross-sectional study of the performance of surgical residents and attending doctors in the Rosser Top Gun Laparoscopic Skills and Suturing Program was conducted (Top Gun).
  • Three separate video game exercises were done, and surveys were completed to measure previous video game experience and current level of play, as well as each subject's degree of surgical training, number of laparoscopic cases performed, and years in medical practice.

Study setting

  • Academic medical center and surgical training program.


  • Thirty-three attending physicians and residents participated in Top Gun from May 10 to August 24, 2002.

Main Outcome Measures

Participants' laparoscopic skills and suturing capability, video game scores, and video game experience were compared as primary outcome measures.


Past video game play experience

  • Of the surgeons, 19 (58%) said they had played video games in the past, while 14 (42%) said they had never played.
  • Previous video game play of more than 3 hours per week was associated with 37% fewer errors (P<.02) and 27% faster completion (P<.03).
  • Overall Top Gun score (time and errors) for video game players was 33% higher (P<.005) and 42% higher (P<.01) if they played more than 3 hours per week.

Current player video game play experience

  • Of the surgeons,12 (36%) said they were currently playing video games for an average of 19.0 minutes (SD, 32.8 minutes) at one sitting.
  • Men were more likely than women to play video games often (t31 = 3.15, P<.01), and for a considerably longer period of time (mean, 14.2 and 2.1 years, respectively; t31 = 4.18, P<.001).
  • Men were more likely than women to spend more hours per week playing (χ23 = 8.4, P=.04).
  • Current video game players made 32% fewer errors (P=.04), performed 24% faster (P<.04), and scored 26% higher overall (time and errors) (P<.005) than non-players.

  • Each of the video games selected to assess the subjects' video game competence was found to be highly linked with laparoscopic proficiency and suturing ability.
  • When comparing demonstrated video gaming abilities, individuals in the top tertile made 47% fewer errors, performed 39% faster, and scored 41% higher on the total Top Gun score (P<.001 for all).

Regression analysis predicting laparoscopic skills

  • A regression analysis was undertaken to further investigate the association between laparoscopic skills, displayed video game skills, and previous video game experience.
  • Video game skills and previous video game experience were also found to be significant predictors of demonstrated laparoscopic skills in regression analysis.


The ability to play video games corresponds with the ability to perform laparoscopic surgery. Video game-based training curricula may help to narrow the technical interface between surgeons and screen-mediated applications like laparoscopic surgery. Video games could be a useful teaching tool for surgeons.


  1. Rosser JC, Lynch PJ, Cuddihy L, Gentile DA, Klonsky J, Merrell R. The impact of video games on training surgeons in the 21st century. Archives of surgery. 2007 Feb 1;142(2):181-6.

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