On its face this seems like a silly and easily dismissible notion, but neuroscience has established that visualizing the processes of learned skills can improve\reinforce neural pathways in much the same manner actually performing the action does. One can strengthen the brain's connections used to perform a task by thinking about doing the task. The more these neural pathways are reinforced, the easier and more efficiently it becomes for our brains to process them. This phenomenon is a contributor to concept of 'muscle memory.' We have all experienced performing a task which has become rote to the point it seems we do not have to consciously think about doing it. That is the product of well-establish neural pathways.
A question I am left with is whether a martial-arts fighting game/simulator has the ability to reinforce neural pathways in a similar manner to memory-based visualization.
Does playing a fighting game help reinforce learned concepts like spatial reasoning and tempo/priority?
Does controlling a proxy character on a display internalize actions taken enough for our brains to reinforce similar establish neural pathways (i.e. does my character's roundhouse kick make my brain think about performing a roundhouse kick in a similar manner to physically performing the action myself)?
What are the thresholds/tolerances for such an internalization, if any? Does a 3rd person proxy character work as well as immersive virtual reality?
I understand this is a complex issue, and perhaps beyond the scope of Stack Exchange. However, if video games can function in such a reinforcing manner, they may become an invaluable tool helping martial artist strengthen their training.