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“Do Real-Time Strategy Video Gamers Have Better Attentional Control?”
Do real-time strategy (RTS) video gamers have better attentional control? To examine this issue, we tested experienced versus inexperienced RTS video gamers on multi-object tracking tasks (MOT) and dual-MOT tasks with visual or auditory secondary tasks (dMOT). We employed a street-crossing task with a visual working memory task as a secondary task in a virtual reality (VR) environment to examine any generalized attentional advantage.
Similar to action video games, RTS video games require players to switch attention between multiple visual objects and views. However, whether the attentional control advantage is limited by sensory modalities or generalizes to real-life tasks remains unclear.
In study 1, 25 RTS video game players (SVGP) and 25 non-video game players (NVGP) completed the MOT task and two dMOT tasks. In study 2, a different sample with 25 SVGP and 25 NVGP completed a simulated street-crossing task with the visual dual task in a VR environment.
After controlling the effects of the speed-accuracy trade-off, SVGP showed better performance than NVGP in the MOT task and the visual dMOT task, but SVGP did not perform better in either the auditory dMOT task or the street-crossing task.
RTS video gamers had better attentional control in visual computer tasks, but not in the auditory tasks and the VR tasks. Attentional control benefits associated with RTS video game experience may be limited by sensory modalities, and may not translate to performance benefits in real-life tasks.