Numerous studies have focused on the impact video games have on the brain by measuring cognitive abilities. If gamification is something that is used throughout the hiring process to determine which candidates are best fit, is it still a completely fair game if cognitive abilities of gamers are different than those of non-gamers? Are gamers really better at scoring higher than non-gamers? In this blog, you will find out all about:
- Differences between gamers and non-gamers in terms of cognitive abilities
- Validation of games that measure innate traits
Gamers vs. Non-gamers
Human brain is designed in a way that allows it to continuously learn new things and adapt to different circumstances. It is how our cognitive abilities are able to develop and improve over time. But does this differ between someone who is a gamer and someone who is not?
There is a common opinion that expert gamers often outperform non-gamers when it comes to measures of perception and cognition. So, let’s start by briefly discussing whether there are any possible cognitive differences between experienced gamers and those who do not game.
Video games, cognitive skills & perception
Research suggests that developing a cognitive profile that allows rapid monitoring and reacting to fast moving visual and auditory stimuli is a requirement for the ability to play video games. Which then automatically leads to the assumption that avid gamers show a better range of cognitive abilities than those who do not game at all.
What I also would like to point out here is that different types of games offer different potential cognitive benefits. Meaning that no single game can help you improve all aspects of your cognitive performance. Some studies suggest that advanced gamers, in general, score higher on mental agility, have an improved reaction time, improved mental flexibility, and improved and-eye-coordination.
Does playing video games affect cognitive abilities?
Once you’re considered as excelling at something and you do that one thing a lot – you are automatically thought of as an expert. Same goes for gaming and the gamers that are invited to participate in most gaming and cognition correlation studies. If gamers are invited to participate in a study due to their gaming experience, they might already participate in the study with a presumption that they are expected to perform their best. This is dangerous as it influences the performance drastically.
Think of it this way. You are recruited to participate in a study about gaming expertise and the study primarily consists of computer related tasks. Once you know why you have been recruited (you’re an expert in gaming), the chances are that you will be extra motivated to perform your best. This heavily influences the outcome of the study and makes it less valid, reliable & credible. However, if you are not a gamer or maybe you’re just not good at it, you will be less motivated to perform well. (Because you already know you won’t succeed). Any difference in overall task performance, in that case, would be the same as a placebo effect.
This difference might not be caused by the act of gaming itself
Even if gamers do outperform non-gamers in terms of cognitive skills and perception – this difference might not be caused by the act of gaming itself. Instead, it might be that these individuals already possess the specific types of cognitive abilities required to excel within the games. Gamers who play a lot of action video games can perform better when it comes to switching between tasks and updating the working memory. However, it does not improve the speed of information processing in other tasks unrelated to gaming.
Experienced gamers will score slightly better on certain aspects of a gamified assessment. Although this depends on the type of game they mostly play. It is noteworthy to mention that they will score lower on other aspects. For example, gamers often respond faster to different stimuli. However, fast reaction time is often at the expense of precision. So, it is likely that they will make more mistakes. Additionally, games often require resolute and intuitive decisions to be made quickly. Experienced gamers will rely more on their intuition, but therefore the inhibition of responses will be more difficult for them.
Equalture’s gamified assessments vs. Gamers
One might think that there are massive differences between non-gamers and gamers when it comes to cognitive abilities. Even though some research suggests that is the case, the reality is that cognitive abilities can be developed and nurtured over time. Regardless of whether it is through gaming or not, these abilities are something that is innately present with each person. (Or in the contrast – aren’t).
When using gamification in recruitment, you should not be worried about whether someone who is a gamer will do better than someone who is not. Simply because good gamified assessments are adaptive. Even if someone has good cognitive skills, these games will never stop trying to challenge this person in terms of showcasing their potential. Plus, candidates love an application experience that is gamified!
Curious how that works? Play a game yourself and find out!