PS1 News: Study: Games Can Improve Thinking In "Complex Problems" - PS1 News

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Study: Games Can Improve Thinking In "Complex Problems"

In another shock of shocks from the scientific community, we have learned that playing puzzle games can actually enhance your puzzle-solving ability. ...no, seriously. It has been proven.

But the study in question also included "action" games, so it's not entirely about puzzlers positively affecting the brain. As reported by Game Politics, a recent study conducted by a Wheaton College professor has revealed that those who play such games "are better able to think through complex problems." Professor of Psychology Rolf Nelson published his study's results in the November edition of the journal, Perception; the study involved 20 students and a spatial relation problem. After playing a puzzle or action game, the students got another crack at solving a complicated problem and both groups (those who played a puzzle game and those who played an action game) were able to solve the conundrum faster. The action-ers solved it faster with less accuracy while the puzzlers solved it slower with more accuracy. The study's goal was written as follows:

"To understand the way in which video-game play affects subsequent perception and cognitive strategy, two experiments were performed in which participants played either a fast-action game or a puzzle-solving game. Before and after video-game play, participants performed a task in which both speed and accuracy were emphasized. In experiment 1 participants engaged in a location task in which they clicked a mouse on the spot where a target had appeared, and in experiment 2 they were asked to judge which of four shapes was most similar to a target shape. In both experiments, participants were much faster but less accurate after playing the action game, while they were slower but more accurate after playing the puzzle game. Results are discussed in terms of a taxonomy of video games by their cognitive and perceptual demands."

You can read it all if you choose to subscribe to Perception, but I've got a really dumb question: in order to compare results, these students had to have taken the experiment/problem twice; once before playing and once after, right? But wouldn't the problem have to be different? I mean, wouldn't you always do it faster the second time after having already tried it? Obviously, we must be talking about two different sets of problems, but I just thought I'd throw that out there.

12/30/2009 10:51:28 AM Ben Dutka

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