In the May issue of the Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics journal, a paper was published which concludes that video gamers are better at dealing with visual information than none-gamers. This comes as a surprise to nobody but it’s good to see research baking up what everyone already thinks. The full title is “Action video game playing is associated with improved visual sensitivity, but not alterations in visual sensory memory” (there is a paywall).
The interesting thing to note though is not that players are better at all aspects of visual cognition. What they are better at is absorption and filtering. This article sums up the research:
When playing a game, especially one of the “first-person shooters,” a gamer makes “probabilistic inferences” about what he’s seeing — good guy or bad guy, moving left or moving right — as rapidly as he can.
Appelbaum said that with time and experience, the gamer apparently gets better at doing this. “They need less information to arrive at a probabilistic conclusion, and they do it faster.”