Study: Game Playing Improves Visual Awareness

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.

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  1. 0
    FlakAttack says:

    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.

  2. 0
    FlakAttack says:

    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).

  3. 0
    Matthew says:

    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.

  4. 0
    Avalongod says:

    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.

  5. 0
    Monte says:

    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

  6. 0
    Thomas McKenna says:

     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.

  7. 0
    CMiner says:

    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.

  8. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    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.

  9. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    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.

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