8 skills you can acquire by playing Call of Duty, GTA and other action video games

More than 1.2 billion people worldwide regularly play video games. There is a lot of different types of video games, but the so called ‘action games’ are among the most popular.

Researchers have long been interested in the effects video games have on gamers. For example, examining the cognitive profile of action video game players helped many researchers to understand skills required for excelling at this genre.

Even more, some researchers believe that the skills acquired from gaming can be transferred to the real life. For PitchMe it became an important practical question.

What is an Action Video Game?

There are two main subtypes of action video games. The first one is about the ‘first person experience’. In the games, such as the Titanfall, Call of Duty, Doom, Wolfenstein players view the world through the eyes of their avatars.

The other subtype is third-person shooter games. Here, the player sees the back of his or her avatar. The Rise of the Tomb Raider, Grand Theft Auto are among the games falling into this category.

Despite the differences in player’s point of view, all of the abovementioned games have some things in common:

  • fast pace (players are forced to analyse situation and take appropriate action under severe time constraints);
  • a high degree of perceptual and motor load, along with working memory, ability to plan actions and achieve goals;
  • players are constantly forced to switch attention between targets and elements of exterior;
  • clutter and loads of distractions (targets are distributed unevenly and merge with exterior of the game).

In the early 2000s researchers believed that the differences in cognitive skills could be detected only after hundreds of hours of action game playing. Nowadays the research shows that durable changes in the cognitive skills can be observed after only tens of hours of gaming.

Skills impacted by video gaming

Skills impacted by the video gaming can be categorized into the following eight cognitive domains:

Visual perception, or the process of extracting and organising information, giving meaning to what we see;

Bottom-up attention, or pop-out search;

Top-down attention, or multiple object tracking;

Spatial Cognition, playing crucial role in navigation, understanding or fixing equipment, estimating distance and other measurements;

Task-Switching/Multitasking;

Inhibition, or mind’s ability to ignore irrelevant stimuli;

Problem Solving;

Verbal Cognition, which is involved in verbal working memory and reading.

For instance, 50 hours of video gaming substantially improves performance in a range of attentional, perceptual, and cognitive tasks. Playing action video games results in enhancement of attention: gamers have faster visual search rate, they also demonstrate a reduction in the size of the attentional blink*, they improve change detection, and can simultaneously track a larger number of objects.

FYI, Attentional Blink is the phenomenon that the second of two targets cannot be detected or identified when it appears close in time to the first (Scholarpedia)

Why it is important to study video games?

Understanding the cognitive domains that can be influenced by action gaming has important implications. Aside of theoretical understanding of how gaming can promote behavioral changes, understanding its impact is crucial for those who wish to use action games for practical ends.

For example, some reports suggest that action video games can improve abstract thinking. This finding has led to the proposal to use this type of games in education, particularly in sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.

In this blog entry, we have considered only one subcategory of video gaming, whereas there is a wider range of genres: fantasy, role-playing, and strategy games. Video gaming represents a large scope of data for HR purposes (once again, 1.2 billion of people worldwide, or every 6th human being on planet Earth regularly play video games). Therefore, HR tech companies would benefit from developing the system to classify games according to game mechanics that are more or less likely to foster enhancements in cognition.

HR sector would not only benefit from the classification of players in cross-sectional work, but also from choosing experimental and simulation games for candidate career development.

P.S. If you are new here, let us tell you a bit about PitchMe. PitchMe is an AI based platform that helps you to get matched with your best fit job, for free. We capture your skills, measure them and pitch you to employers. Employers compete for your talent. To try PitchMe now and get matched with your next job, register here. Completing your profile takes less than 5 minutes.

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