It’s widely understood that people who play twitch games, like shooters, improve their non-gaming perceptual processes. But researchers at Queen Mary University and University College London wanted to find out if playing fast-paced, complicated games that require lots of multitasking and quick-thinking, might help non-gamers improve their higher-level competencies such as cognitive flexibility.
Groups of non-gaming students were tasked with playing either StarCraft or The Sims, intensely, over a two month period. They simultaneously took a series of non-gaming tests.
The researchers discovered that the subjects who had played StarCraft performed at a higher rate in cognitive flexibility tasks than those who had played The Sims, which is a more sedate experience.
“Previous research has demonstrated that action video games, such as Halo, can speed up decision making,’ said researcher Dr. Brian Glass. “The current work finds that real-time strategy games can promote our ability to think on the fly and learn from past mistakes.”