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Research results: Gamers outperform non-gamers

by Han Cilliers (Lola)  Posted Wednesday, January 09, 2013 1:57:05 PM

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In August, last year GameZone interviewed Paula Faffles Sneijder Baetu, a student at Wits, who was busy with her honours in Psychology. She extended an invitation to gamers and non-gamers to be part of her research on video games. You can read the interview “Call to arms, all male gamers sign up!” here.

The aim of the research was:

  1. To see if there is this relationship between video games and cognition.
  2. To see if this relationship is different in two quite different genres (she used shooter and strategy).

We are happy to report that the results are in and it is (un)surprisingly in the favour of gamers.

  Einstein.jpg

"If Einstein was alive now, chances are he would be a gamer"

Paula Faffles Sneijder Baetu research results:

The video game industry has been and is still is a growing industry amongst children and adults and video games have been studied for their negative and positive implications. Executive function is a term used to describe many higher order cognitive functions that revolve around the frontal lobes of the brain. These functions include a number of constructs that have been debated amongst theorists such as: reasoning, attention, memory, working memory, problem solving, planning, self-regulation, concept formation, abstract thinking, impulse control and inhibition.

This study aimed, with the use of five subtests of the D-KEFS battery, to see if there is a relationship between executive functioning and video games (shooter and strategy genres) and hypothesised that there is a relationship by comparing a sample of gamers and non-gamers and comparing shooter and strategy gamers.

A statistical ex-post facto correlational design was used to compare groups and significant results were found within the Color-Word interference (condition 1 and condition 4 completion times) and Sorting tests (sort recognition description scores) in favour of the gaming group. Overall, there were a total of four significant results between gamers and non-gamers that emerged from the Color-Word Interference and Sorting test of this study.

Firstly, there was a significant difference in the Color Naming completion time condition of the Color-Word Interference test that showed gamers performed better in this task of focused attention. This finding is consistent with the previous research that concluded that gamers had superior visual attention capabilities compared to non-gamers (Clark, Fleck and Mitroff, 2011; Bavelier, Achtman, Mani and Föcker, 2011)

In the same test, there was another significant result in the completion time of the Inhibition/Switching condition which showed that gamers performed better in this task of working memory (participants had to keep the rules here in mind throughout the condition), using functions such as divided attention and inhibition. This means that gamers performed better than non-gamers in the “easiest” condition and the “hardest” condition. The Word Reading task is also measuring focused attention like the Color Naming task but did not get a significant result. This may mean that the finding was ransom or that gamers perform better in visual focused attention rather than verbal. This finding is congruent as past research also found that gamers outperformed non-gamers in visual attention tasks with no mention of verbal attention such as in Bartlett, Vowels, Shanteau, Crow and Miller (2009).

Other significant results came from the Sort Recognition Descriptive score for card set 2 and the overall sort recognition descriptive score. The sort recognition condition is testing concept formation in a less demanding capacity to that of the free sorting condition. Since there is a significant difference in the sort recognition condition and not free sorting because it is possible that gamers do better with information that is provided to them than non-gamers.There may also be a practice component happening here as card set 1 for this condition can be seen as a practice run for card set 2 so that gamers are able to pick up and learn and develop skills at a faster rate than non-gamers.

In summary, there were differences found in this research between gamers and non-gamers but significant results here were limited to those involving attention, working memory and concept formation and there were no significant results found between shooter and strategy gamers. Future research on the topic is recommended.

Paula Faffles Sneijder Baetu: predictable_world@hotmail.com

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd



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