Skip to main content

Gaming Science News

Hello! Welcome to Gaming Science News, the blogpost that happens when there's a load of gaming science news to report. Are all those grants for research into the science of electronic gaming finally producing some useful insight into the favourite pastime of the 21st century human-person? Can gaming help you be the best at thinking? Should you play Tetris immediately after a terrorist attack? Let's find out...


The Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford have been taking a look at whether playing Tetris can reduce flashbacks after a traumatic event. How could they test such a thing? Well, "all participants viewed a traumatic film consisting of scenes of real injury and death followed by a 30-min structured break." Mmm. After that they either did nothing much, or were made to play Tetris. The flashbacks of the patients were then monitored for the week following the horrible snuff viewings. It turns out that flashbacks to the film were significant less common in those subjects who played the Tetris. The theory being that Tetris competed for the same resources that the flashbacks would have used, and reduced their impact on the gaming noggin. The study concludes: "Playing “Tetris” after viewing traumatic material reduces unwanted, involuntary memory flashbacks to that traumatic film, leaving deliberate memory recall of the event intact. Pathological aspects of human memory in the aftermath of trauma may be malleable using non-invasive, cognitive interventions."

Conclusion: Always have a version of Tetris handy. There's usually a good phone version these days, although excessive exposure may run the risk of reprogramming your mind for Communism.


Rolf Nelson from Wheaton College recently published his findings into this topic in the journal, Perception. Here's the abstract from Rolf's paper: "To understand the way in which video-game play affects subsequent perception and cognitive strategy, two experiments were performed in which participants played either a fast-action game or a puzzle-solving game. Before and after video-game play, participants performed a task in which both speed and accuracy were emphasized. In experiment 1 participants engaged in a location task in which they clicked a mouse on the spot where a target had appeared, and in experiment 2 they were asked to judge which of four shapes was most similar to a target shape. In both experiments, participants were much faster but less accurate after playing the action game, while they were slower but more accurate after playing the puzzle game." (Via, GamePolitics.)

Conclusion: Well this is essentially a min-maxing strategy. Do you want to put all your XP into intelligence, or dexterity? Basically, if you're speccing to be a quick-but-slow character, stick to action games. If it's brains you want, do the puzzle games. That, my friends, is science.


Researchers at Vanderbilt University are trying to discover whether gaming can be a balm to those people who couldn't navigate their way out of a paper bag, like John. The study says: "Previous research has shown that people can take knowledge gained in a virtual environment and apply that knowledge to navigate in an identical real space. Virtual replicas of real spaces are expensive to create and are rarely encountered by the average person. Fortunately, many inexpensive and commercially available video games use highly-detailed, realistic-looking environments. We are doing this study to see if video game navigation experience can have a positive effect on players' real-world navigation skills." And what did the experiments show? Well, they're actually still working on it, but apparently you can improve your basic navigational skills after just ten hours of gaming.

Conclusion: I am awesome at 3D shooters and I never get lost, ever. John is awesome at 2D adventure games and sissy stuff like that. He gets lost if you point at something too quickly. LINK PROVEN!


Honestly, this is a real thing: variety amnesia. According to this study, people get bored of stuff. Apparently, you can recover from being bored of things you've recently been "consuming" by being reminded of stuff from the past. Here's the abstract: "Consumers frequently consume items to the point where they no longer enjoy them. In a pilot study and two experiments spanning three distinct classes of stimuli, we find that people can recover from this satiation by simply recalling the variety of alternative items they have consumed in the past. And yet, people seem to exhibit “variety amnesia” in that they do not spontaneously recall this past variety despite the fact that it would result in a desirable decrease in satiation."

Conclusion: Going back to read old RPS posts will make Modern Warfare 2 seem less boring. That's a win for science, and for you!

Tune in next time for more facts from gaming science. Because facts are super-true.

Read this next