Video games have been a popular form of entertainment and leisure for decades and are now the largest grossing entertainment industry in the world. At the same time, games are thought to impact a broad range of human functioning, from subjective well-being to cognition. Specifically, some studies have associated video game play with increased performance in attention control, working memory, executive functioning, and other cognitive abilities.
Because these cognitive abilities that games purportedly affect may contribute to human functioning more broadly, such as educational and career achievement, it is important that studies are conducted using the most rigorous and valid methods available, and that multiple approaches to the question are employed. However, the research record on this topic thus far has had a blind spot on large, representative, and ecologically valid studies.
This project aims to study the association between video game play and cognition using novel ecologically valid methods that improve upon the existing literature by studying gaming in its natural context, using actual game play data. We intend to recruit a large representative sample of gamers from industry partners’ online platforms, who would contribute their actual gameplay data—when, how and what they play. Volunteers would then complete online cognitive tasks that measure their attention control, working memory, and executive functioning, as well provide their motivations for playing. We will then be in a unique position to examine the naturally occurring associations between gaming behaviours and performance on those cognitive domains.
The main proposed scientific merit of this study is a robust and transparent investigation, and a subsequent open-access publication and openly available dataset, on the real-world association between video game play and cognitive performance.