Action video game: benefits and dangers

Do you think those fast-paced first- and third-person shooter games like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft can destroy a child’s brain? Looking for strategies to focus on learning? It seems that these action video games can be really good for your students’ brains and learning skills.

A growing body of evidence and behavioral evidence demonstrates the positive benefits of action video games to improve a wide range of skills, from motor and perceptual skills to superior skills such as cognitive flexibility, attention management and learning. However, a worrying amount of evidence shows that the violence observed in most commercial action games is associated with increased aggressive thinking and behavior. Researchers are working hard to maximize the positive benefits of action video games and minimize their negative effects.

What are the benefits of action video games?

Since the first report on the positive effects of action video games more than a decade ago (Green & Bavelier), researchers have consistently discovered the benefits of action, including:

  • Improvements in visual decision making or the ability to identify and select objectives.
    Processing speed or how fast you can react to the subject
    The ability to gain attention or how to focus on a goal in the face of distractions.
    Ability to remember visually presented information.
    Ability to multitask and quickly switch between tasks
    Note, however, that other studies did not find such effects.

Importantly, these benefits are documented for skills that are clearly implemented beyond the boundaries of video games, so it seems that action video games engage people in a wide range of important skills to learn in the game.

In fact, a recent study found that action players proved to be “better learners” and improved the action game. In this study, the pioneers in this study area, Daphne Bavelier and Shawn Green, showed that they could turn non-players into players in a 50-hour action game in nine weeks. When evaluating the ability of these new players to learn a variety of new tasks (Bejjanki, Zhang, etc.), “They learn much faster than the control group who likes non-video games during the game. The same number of hours Sims trained and surprising improvements were observed a few months to a year later.

What leads to these benefits?

Researchers suggest that the rapid, dynamic, and unpredictable nature of action video games could train people to search for and identify children in the environment to develop metacognitive learning. In other words, because these games require players to make decisions based on a lot of strong knowledge, they create strategies to capture regularities and patterns that seem to teach them to use this skill to complete new tasks faster and more efficiently. to learn. This learning may be due to the ability to filter distractions more effectively and to identify information that is more relevant to the goal. Developing these learning skills in the classroom and in real life would allow students to find where to focus their limited attention in order to achieve maximum impact on learning.

Something that is often due to the rise of video games is the increased diagnosis of attention deficit disorders, such as ADD and ADHD. Researchers concerned with this potential relationship examined whether action players have a more impulsive focus on behavior and / or a lesser ability to maintain constant attention (skills usually associated with ADD and ADHD). Surprisingly, it was not found. When evaluated using observation variables (TOVA), action players are proven to be faster, but no less accurate than non-players (Dye, Green and Bavelier). Therefore, action players seem to make more real decisions than non-players at the same time, and therefore are not necessarily happier at launch or more impulsive than their non-gaming / non-gaming counterparts.

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