Need to Finish Homework Quick? Warm Up with an Action Game

A Wheaton College psychology professor has released findings from a study which compares how action games versus strategy games impacted a participant’s ability to perform tasks.

As detailed on NewsWise, Rolf Nelson, who specializes in human visual perception, had subjects play either Unreal Tournament (an entry in the action genre) or Portal (a puzzle-solving/strategy game) sandwiched  between chores designed to measure speed and accuracy. Those who played the action game were able to perform their task faster, but with less accurate results, while the strategy game induced more accurate, yet slower responses.

Nelson explained how the research might be relevant to real-life, particularly for students:

If they’re playing an action game and then switch to homework, they may try to blaze through their homework at the cost of making mistakes. Or if they play strategy games, they may work slowly, but turn in more accurate work. In fact, it is striking how dramatically these strategies can be shifted by a single hour of video-game play.

Nelson also believes that other studies continued reliance on first-person shooter type game to measure perceptual effects might be off base:

…it is misleading to base conclusions about video games in general on a single genre, just as it would be misleading to base one’s conclusions about the effects of television by considering only crime shows.

Full study results are published in the current edition (Volume 38) of the journal Perception. An abstract is available online here.

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