Action Video Games DO NOT Promote Visual Attention
Since the release of the first commercially available video games, scientists, the media, and the public have been fascinated by the idea that game play might have negative or positive effects on the gamer. Much of the scientific research on gaming has focused on whether game play might increase aggression or encourage violence. However, a growing body of research over the past few decades has also explored whether video games are good for us, specifically whether game play might improve a variety of perceptual and cognitive abilities in fundamental and meaningful ways. This literature appears to demonstrate that not all games are created equal and that action video games (e.g., fast-paced first-person shooters) have an uncanny ability to improve vision and attention compared to other types of games or experiences. This chapter critically examines these claims, the logic underlying them, and the evidence used to support them. While early reports of action game benefits were promising, this chapter explores whether these findings hold up to more careful scrutiny. In the face of a variety of methodological concerns, failures to replicate, and over a century of research on how we learn, we urge skepticism regarding claims that action video games promote enhanced vision and attention. We conclude by providing guidelines for how more definitive conclusions regarding the benefits of game training might be reached.
KeywordsAttention Vision Cognition Methodology Third-variable problem Directionality problem Recruitment Placebo effect Replication
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