Importance of real-time Strategy games in player’s cognitive development

What makes strategy games so special?

strategy game is something in which the players’ uncoerced, and often autonomous, decision-making skills determine the outcome of the game. Action real-time strategy video games including League of Legends: Wild Rift, World of Warcraft, Age of Empires, Total War, etc. require internal decision tree-style thinking, and typically very high situational awareness. Over the past decade, video gaming has become an increasingly popular entertainment medium worldwide. Action video gaming—a major genre of video gaming—requires players to stay alert to stimuli in the peripheral region of view while tracking multiple targets simultaneously, and to make decisions under time pressure. In this article let’s discuss the importance and impact of real-time strategy games in the player’s all-around cognitive and mental development.

The impact of Real-time Strategy games

Action-packed real-time strategy gaming (ARSG) is a cognitively demanding task that requires attention, sensorimotor skills, team cooperation, and strategy-making abilities. The findings from Frontiers in Human Neuroscience suggest that playing such games can cause long-term changes in the brain and lead to an improvement in temporal visual selective attention. Those with experience of playing video games can improve cognitive development such as greater sensitivity to contrasts, better eye-to-hand coordination, and superior memory.

League of Legends: Wild Rift Map: How a typical MOBA strategy game map looks like

To study the effect of gaming on temporal visual selective attention, a total of 38 volunteers were selected. Out of which half of the volunteers were expert players of the typical action real-time strategy game League of Legends: Wild Rift. The others were beginners, with less than six months’ experience of the same game. All volunteers were seated in front of a screen and tested in a blink task (the tendency of focused observers to blink – that is, to fail to properly register – a visual stimulus if it appears so quickly after a previous stimulus that cognitive processing of the first hasn’t finished).

What the numbers say…

The greater a volunteer’s tendency to blink targets, the less frequently he would press the correct button when one of the two targets appeared on the screen, and the worse he did overall in the task. It was found that the expert League of Legends players outperformed beginners in the task. The experts were less prone to the blink effect, detecting targets more accurately and faster. According to Dr. Tieujun Liu,

Our results suggest that long-term experience of action real-time strategy games leads to improvements in temporal visual selective attention: the expert gamers had become more effective in distributing limited cognitive resources between successive visual targets

Dr. Tiejun Liu

The ARSG requires a strategy to excel at the particular level, you can also check the Crazy Time strategy for better understanding. So we can say that such games can be a powerful and effective way to increase the speed of perceptual processing and therefore, improve the cognitive abilities of any individual. But the players should also understand that excessive use of anything isn’t good for the body and mind. One should allocate the time to various outdoor activities as well.

What are your thoughts on the importance and impact of real-time strategy games in the player’s cognitive development? Let us know in the comments below.

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