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Mario Kart has scientific benefits

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The Lankford family takes part in a game of Mario Kart

The Lankford family takes part in a game of Mario Kart

Emma Lankford

Emma Lankford

The Lankford family takes part in a game of Mario Kart

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When many people think of Mario Kart, they do not look much deeper than hurling turtle shells at their opponents. However, when examined further, it can be concluded that playing Mario Kart can assist in preparing its users for life in ways that would not initially meet the eye. By playing Mario Kart, motor skills are developed, ultimately resulting in better driving. Also, Mario Kart can reduce stress and improve its players’ moods.

While some may argue that playing a video game cannot possibly improve one’s driving abilities, there are studies that have proven otherwise. A study from researchers at the University of New York Shanghai and the University of Hong Kong compared the driving skills of participants with experience playing action video games like Mario Kart to those that lacked practice with these games. The researchers created a virtual simulation, requiring participants to drive down a lane, remaining as close as possible to the center. As an added challenge, the drivers had to account for winds that could potentially offset the direction of the virtual car. After the trial had been conducted, it was proven that the participants with action video game experience had a consistently lower deviation from the center of the lane than those without.

The researchers also conducted a similar study, however this study tracked the improvement of two groups over time. One of the groups played Mario Kart, while the other played RollerCoaster Tycoon III. It was found that after just five hours, the group practicing with Mario Kart showed significant improvement, while those playing RollerCoaster Tycoon III showed little to no improvement with the challenge. This is because Mario Kart is just one example of a game that requires its players to respond rapidly to visual cues and choose subsequent actions accordingly. It also increases your awareness, a skill necessary for driving in real life.

Whether you are in first or last place, research has shown that playing Mario Kart is an excellent stress reliever, even though the effects may not be immediate. When you are in the middle of your race, winning could very well be the difference between life and death. However, while tensions are rising with each lap, you may not realize that your mood is rising as well.

A study, published in “Computers in Human Behavior,” has been done that begins by forcing participants to take math tests until they fail and then take a mood questionnaire to confirm their stress levels. Then, after they were sufficiently stressed, the participants played two rounds of Mario Kart. After they were finished, the participants completed the same questionnaire to assess their mood. In all 48 participants, an increase of happiness was recorded. The only variation was in the extent to which their moods increased, which appeared to be mostly dependent on their performance in the race. All in all, if you are looking to find a simple method of happiness and stress relief, a few rounds of Mario Kart may be the way to go.

Overall, it is apparent to me that playing Mario Kart has unbelievable benefits. Being able to have an enjoyable experience, while also preparing for real-world events such as driving, is an opportunity that is hard to beat. So, next time you feel regret for sending a blue turtle shell toward your friend in first place, just remember: they’ll be better off because of it.

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