A study of young adult gamers found that players of action games possess superior visual acuity compared to players of nonaction games and individuals with little gaming experience. Individuals playing action games for more than 5 hours per week performed better than both individuals playing non-action games and those playing action games for less than 1 hour per week on the dynamic visual acuity test. The study was published in Optometry and Vision Science.
Action video games, defined by their fast-paced gameplay, often feature a player-controlled character immersed in activities like shooting, fighting, or platforming (precision jumping) within a highly dynamic virtual environment. Action video games require players to have good hand-eye coordination, fast reflexes, and strategic thinking to overcome obstacles and defeat opponents. Notable examples of action video games include game franchises like Call of Duty, Tomb Raider, Devil May Cry, Battlefield, and others.
Previous studies have indicated that action video games allow players to improve visual attention skills. This was the case with action games that include fast-paced, timed events, that require players to distribute attention across the peripheral visual field, divide attention on demand and focus it on varying locations.
Researchers have also reported positive results of their attempts to use action games to treat amblyopia, the “lazy eye” syndrome. Amblyopia is a visual disorder that occurs when one eye has significantly better vision than the other, and the brain starts to favor the stronger eye, neglecting input from the weaker one. This results in reduced vision in the weaker eye that cannot be fully corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Study author Marc Argilés and his colleagues wanted to compare dynamic visual acuity of individuals with different video game play experiences. They were particularly interested in comparing action game players with other individuals. Dynamic visual acuity is the ability to see and recognize objects clearly when they are in motion. It reflects how well one’s eyes can focus on and identify things while the person or the objects are moving. It is important for tasks such as tracking a moving car or reading a sign while walking or driving.
The participants of the study were students from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Spain, aged between 20 and 30 years. Eligibility required participants to engage in team sports or tennis for less than five hours weekly, as these activities are known to affect dynamic visual acuity. The researchers also established a baseline requirement for static visual acuity for the participants.
Participants completed an assessment of their video game experience (the Bavelier Lab Video Game Questionnaire). This assessment was used to identify players of action video games and players of nonaction video games. Participants also reported the number of hours per week they typically played games and completed a dynamic visual acuity assessment (assessed binocularly using DynVa 3.0 software).
The researchers conducted two separate analyses. In the initial analysis, which included 22 action game players and 25 non-action game players, no significant differences were observed in dynamic visual acuity. The second analysis was conducted on a subgroup of 33 participants from the previous sample. Of these, 16 participants were action game players, while 17 were considered controls. Comparison showed that action game players had better median values on two visual acuity indicators. Their values were higher than the control group on all the other indicators as well, but difference sizes were negligible.
“Those who frequently play action video games showed better performance in dynamic visual acuity at 57 and 28.5°/s with 100% contrast stimuli in comparison with nonregular video game players. First-person shooters are the action video games mostly correlated with better dynamic visual acuity performance,” the study authors concluded.
The study makes a contribution to understanding the links between vision quality and video gaming habits. However, the sample of this study was extremely small and it is insufficiently clear why the second analysis was conducted. Additionally, video gaming habits are based on personal preferences. While it is possible that action games indeed improve dynamic visual acuity, it is also possible that individuals with better dynamic visual acuity have somewhat higher preferences for action games compared to those with lower dynamic visual acuity.
The paper “Regularly Playing First-person Shooter Video Games Improves Dynamic Visual Acuity” was authored by Marc Argilés, Graham Erickson, FAAO, and Lluïsa Quevedo-Junyent.