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Playing Starcraft 2 may improve crisis response & multitasking

Now this, this is very cool research work being done on Starcraft 2.

Apparently somecognitive scientists are reviewing SC2 replay files to see how players learn and how it affects their cognitive abilities. One scientist in particular, Mark Blair from Simon Fraiser University has a study ongoing called "Skillcraft". Seems like early indications are that high level sc2 play could actually be pretty beneficial in improving multi-tasking function and staying composed in a crisis. Not all studies show this though, so jury's still out on what the cogntiive community's consensus will ultimately end up being.

most studies like this that I've seen have usually focused on FPS games, so it's neat to see someone look at an RTS. Given the competitive play, replay, and sheer number of players SC2 does seem like a fertile ground for this kind of thing.

my favorite parts of the SciAm story

“From the perspective of the cognitive motor system, StarCraft is the most interesting thing you could do online,” Blair says....

In the last decade, however, some experiments have begun to suggest that video games might indeed teach transferable skills. Cognitive scientist Daphne Bavelier at the University of Rochester and her colleagues have used video games to investigate what kinds of learning humans are good at, and along the way they’ve turned up some promising, if modest, examples of brain training...

Early results suggest that gamers may have faster visual reaction times, enhanced visuomotor coordination, and heightened ability to visualize spatial arrangements. They may also be better at rotating an object in their minds and may distinguish more deftly between the trajectories of moving objects. Players might also have an edge when paying attention to several objects at once.

One of the studies mentioned in the article (this one by Josh Lewis at UC San Diego), also concluded that having high APM is one of the essential factors to winning.

They tracked several measures, including how many actions players took per minute and the distances between the locations where actions occurred across the map. Not surprisingly, they found that players who made the most moves tended to win. Of more interest was the second calculation. Distributing actions more widely across a map, which the authors argue reflects a player’s ability to distribute attention, also correlated highly with winning.

read the rest at:

The Skillcraft project is here