Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

April 13, 2010 -

A psychology student at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah recently conducted a study of gamers which showed that playing games helped to increase their visual response and alertness.

Christian Peterson, a senior at the school, put 50 students through Halo 3 sessions that ran 20, 40 or 60 minutes, reports the Deseret News. The participants had already taken a visual-responsiveness test before their gaming session, and were asked to take it again post-Halo 3.

Peterson reported on the results, “We found a great increase in ability to spot changes in visual field after playing the video game.” Visual response and alertness also “increased significantly” when comparing pre and post-game visual test results. The length of time spent playing Halo 3 appeared to have no effect on visual test results.

Peterson, who called himself “somewhat of a gamer,” will present the findings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. today as part of the 2010 Undergraduate Research Posters event.


Re: Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

To be fair, we should pick just as much at the methodology of studies that show positive effects from gaming, as those that show negative effects.

First thing that jumps out at me here is that it doesn't look like they had a control group (people that didn't play video games between the two tests.)  That could easily skew the results.

Re: Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

I have to agree.  I don't see much here besides evidence of a "testing" effect.  However we are talking about an undergraduate student.  I hope he'll continue on to develop "bigger and better" studies.

Re: Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

I'm not even sure it's a worthwhile study... i mean if you could prove long term visual awareness then yes i see the benefit, but not in the short term. to me, it sounds more like they were more visually aware right after playing games because they were more responsive. The games was making them look for lots of different movements and respond quickly , so just after playing the games their brains are still in that same mind set... if you give them enough time to rest and relax, their brains would probably go back to normal

Seems like it may just be the case that people are more visually aware while they are playing games, not that playing games improves visual awareness

Re: Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

Or as Matthew said, when you factor in the quote "The length of time spent playing Halo 3 appeared to have no effect on visual test results." that could mean that it wasn't Halo 3 that made them score better, but it was doing the test twice.

Re: Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

 From the sounds of it, the people they tested were their own controls.  They took one test before playing games, and then one after.  More scored better the second time around.  However, chances are they could have scored better because they took the test a second time rather than any video game influence.

Re: Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

And that is why they need a control group that doesn't play any games between tests. To rule out that taking the test a second time was enough to improve scores.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

Re: Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

Given that

a) "After the test, students were encouraged to play Halo 3, a popular first-person shooter game, for 20, 40 and 60 minutes, depending on the participant."


b) "The length of time spent playing Halo 3 appeared to have no effect on visual test results."

The wording in a) seems to suggest that *nobody* took the test a second time without playing the game at all, and so there was no control group.

So, everyone improved the second time they did the test, and b) suggests that the level of improvement was independent of how long they spent playing Halo 3. Most logical conclusion? Taking the test twice improves your score, playing Halo does not.

Re: Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

Matthew is on the right track. Honestly, this test was done just as poorly as many of the anti-gaming ones, and I just couldn't use it as evidence that gaming is not harmful (at least, not with a good conscience).

Re: Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

 I might just question that the second test may have been easier than the first...

Re: Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

Giving that spotting a small detail off in the distance can mean the difference between victory and defeat in such games, I can see this being true. And in solving puzzles you do need ot keep an eye out for the solution, as in many cases it's not too obvious.

Re: Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

Cue the fundies calling the study and the guy reporting on it biased in favour of the videogame industry.

Re: Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

Nah, it'll be a certain someone taking this as an admission that his claim of video games giving their players some kind of mental heads up display is right.

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benohawkThe majority of the blame is on the person overreacting, but if they're still reacting to a real slight then the victim was part of the problem07/31/2015 - 3:28pm
Andrew EisenSure but your analogy doesn't work because cutting someone off means you're in the wrong. Writing an opinion piece does not.07/31/2015 - 3:28pm
benohawkIm not disagreeing that it was an overreaction, I'm saying that if someone beats my ass for cutting them off doesn't mean that I was blameless despite my mistake07/31/2015 - 3:26pm
benohawkI doubt it would of helped goth. it seems a lot of the people who blew up were just waiting for any issue to let loose07/31/2015 - 3:25pm
Andrew EisenI disagree with blaming an overreaction on what people are overreacting to.07/31/2015 - 3:24pm
Goth_Skunkpositions and apologize for any confusion they may have caused. Unless their intent WAS to provoke a sleeping lion, in which case... here we are.07/31/2015 - 3:20pm
Goth_SkunkAn overreaction that probably would not have happened if Gamasutra's article was the only one ever written. And an overreaction that could have also been calmed had the authors all collectively retracted or written follow-up pieces to clarify their07/31/2015 - 3:20pm
benohawkAndrew, neither side is blameless there. Through poor planning or deliberate attempts to offend those articles did push a bad situation to the worse. and the people who blew up are guilty for their reaction07/31/2015 - 3:19pm
Andrew EisenGoth - And the blame for that rests solely on the ding bats who grossly overreacted to a handful of opinion pieces.07/31/2015 - 3:11pm
Andrew EisenHere's a fun fact: Only two of the authors of the "Gamers Are Dead" articles (of which there are about 12) were on the Game Journo Pros list.07/31/2015 - 3:10pm
Goth_SkunkNo! No! Of course not! Nothing wrong with that at all! Nevermind that those articles spawned a huge, almost year-long consumer revolt and culture war that no one in the industry can deny exists. :^)07/31/2015 - 3:10pm
Andrew EisenThere's also nothing wrong with publishing an opinion you know is going to be unpopular with some. So long as it's genuine, anyway.07/31/2015 - 3:08pm
Andrew EisenEh, could be laziness, lack of imagination, bandwagon hopping or maybe Alexander's article inspired them to publish their own takes. Nothing wrong with that.07/31/2015 - 3:06pm
Goth_SkunkIf laziness was indeed the reason other sites produced articles of a similar vein, the laziness must reach levels that would make a cat blush. How lazy does one have to be unable to stop and think "maybe this isn't a good idea...'07/31/2015 - 3:04pm
Andrew EisenThe Mary Sue article title I'm a bit more comfortable being called clickbait as it's a deliberate misdirection but it's done for humor's sake so I personally give such things a pass.07/31/2015 - 3:01pm
Andrew EisenI count six similar titles and two of the authors aren't even journalists, let alone game journalists. It doesn't reek of collusion, it reeks of laziness, if anything. A few others saw Alexander's piece and wrote their own.07/31/2015 - 3:00pm
Goth_Skunkfeed. Additionally, I'm baffled by the irony of someone named 'Infophile' taking a Mary Sue article seriously. Ignoring that I won't give that site a second of my time, that article headline is blatant clickbait and should be ignored on principle.07/31/2015 - 2:58pm
Goth_SkunkI agree with Benohawk: The title of the article meant that the article was worth ignoring. Alas, when 9 additional sites pop up with similarly titled articles of their own, it reeks of collusion and an attempt by the press at large to bite the hands that07/31/2015 - 2:56pm
Andrew EisenAh, okay.07/31/2015 - 2:46pm
benohawkI'm saying that the refrence in the article to the old title would need to be changed well the primary point of the article would be kept the same. Not something that should be an issue if the objective wasn't to be provocative.07/31/2015 - 2:41pm

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