Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Anecdotal evidence for short-term cognitive effects of video games

This is the second part of my discussion of how video games affect how we see things, but I'm not sure if it's in line with the BoRT theme--instead of discussing how video games allow us to have virtual experiences we wouldn't otherwise have had, I want to discuss how video games can alter how we see the physical world.

Anyone who has played a Katamari game for several hours knows this feeling: you're on a walk outside and you imagine rolling up those fence posts and scooters, moving on to cars and dirt clods. You can kind of feel in your head how the fence posts would pop out of the ground and make the Katamari a little unbalanced.

Sim City does a similar thing: after a few hours of play, fans of the game start "seeing" the water pipes and flow of their own city's urban planning (the one they physically live in). Stealth games make me see dark alleys and twisty passages in an entirely different light. Games with diverse characters that show the personal side of the character along with their public persona helps me see other people as more complex individuals instead of the simplistic reductions I remember them as.

Have you noticed this in your own video game play? Even after playing Minecraft for a few hours I keep thinking I need to line my staircase with torches. :-)