Yaba Yaba

what? another blog? you must be joking.

Maths test tomorrow? wack some zombies

with 4 comments

Especially if you’re a girl. Recent research* shows that playing 10 hours of shoot-em-ups improves spatial cognition skills which are associated with success in mathematics and science:

Playing an action video game can differentially enhance male and female performance on spatial tasks; females showed larger improvements than males with prior gender differences virtually eliminated (Useful Field of View) or reduced (Mental rotation task).Non-action games may be less likely to have a beneficial effect because they do not sufficiently exercise spatial attentional capacities.

Spatial abilities—including MRT—have been associated with 1) success in mathematics and science courses (Delgado & Prieto, 2004); 2) performance on standardized tests (e.g. SAT: Casey, et al., 1995); and 3) the choice of mathematics and science in college (Casey, et al, 1995). [..] Superior spatial ability is related to employment in engineering and science (McGee, 1979) and females, who typically score lower on tests of spatial skills, are underrepresented in these fields with worldwide participation rates as low as one in five.

Non-video game players in our study realized large gains after only ten hours of training; we can only imagine the benefits that might be realized after weeks, months, or even years of action video gaming experience.

I find the erasure of gender difference fascinating. It strengthens the argument that such differences are predominantly cultivated by the kinds of things we do as kids. Its also interesting to see the parallel with the differences between art and science students.

On the down side, killing zombies is not like bike riding. you have to keep practising:

Underlying processes in the brain are qualitatively different from those in more typical cases of skill acquisition that involve practice—generally these show decay if there is no continued practice to maintain the level of skill.

*: 2007Playing an Action Video Game Reduces Gender Difference in Spatial Cognition. Psychological Science, (18)10:850-855. PDF

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Written by yishaym

October 3, 2007 at 10:48 am

4 Responses

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  1. this research demonstrates that the differences in ability may be predominantly cultivated by the kinds of things we do as kids, which makes sense, but then the question still remains whether we have inborn different inclinations/interests which draw us to different kind of things?

    naomi

    October 4, 2007 at 1:08 am

  2. Very interesting.

    I always thought (but never found any related research) that playing
    adventure games (discworld, monkey island) rather than shoot em ups
    could increase logic and other related skills. Any research on that ?

    BTW I feel frustrated that there just aren’t any adventure games these
    days that young children can spend their time with rather than shooting
    things or driving like mad around. It may increase their spatial ability
    but who knows what other effect it has. Maybe all programmers were shot
    after all and they don’t design challenging games any more 🙂

    Manolis

    Manolis

    October 8, 2007 at 9:45 pm

  3. Very interesting.

    I always thought (but never found any related research) that playing
    adventure games (discworld, monkey island) rather than shoot em ups
    could increase logic and other related skills. Any research on that ?

    BTW I feel frustrated that there just aren’t any adventure games these
    days that young children can spend their time with rather than shooting
    things or driving like mad around. It may increase their spatial ability
    but who knows what other effect it has. I could be mistaken of course and there may be games that can challenge students’ skills. Any ideas ?

    Manolis

    October 8, 2007 at 9:48 pm

  4. Manolis,

    I think that saying “there are no adventure games around” is overgeneralising. I’m no big game expert, but google gives a lot of leads:
    http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=adventure+games+children

    Of course, there’s more to mathematics than spatial cognition, and there’s many ways games can help learn. We ran a literature review on this issue some time ago:
    http://telearn.noe-kaleidoscope.org/open-archive/browse?resource=257

    And if you want to get into game studies, this is probably a good place to start –
    http://www.digra.org/

    yishaym

    October 9, 2007 at 9:41 am


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