Training in RTS games such as Blizzard’s Starcraft is said to give a boost to cognitive flexibility

Playing Starcraft is good for the mind, study suggests

In what seems to be a continuing emergence of proof that videogames can benefit our psychological development, a new research article posted to open-access online science journal PLOS ONE claims that playing RTS games such as the fast-paced sci-fi classic Starcraft could boost players’ cognitive flexibility.

Describing the Blizzard game as ‘a sort of fast-paced chess on steroids’, one of the researchers states that a group of ‘non-gamer’ female participants demonstrated increased cognitive flexibility ‘as measured by a wide array of non-video gaming tasks’ after ‘playing an hour of Starcraft a day for almost two months.’ Cognitive flexibility is generally considered to be the ability to think about multiple concepts simultaneously, and to be able to adjust to new situations quickly.

According to the author of the post on Slashdot, the version of Starcraft played by the test group was ‘customized to be adaptive and remain challenging’ while ‘in-game behaviour was recorded to determine what aspects of Starcraft leads to the boost in flexibility.’ As a method of accurately measuring the changes, the study also employed a control group, who instead played the more sedate PC hit The Sims.

The study, entitled ‘Real-Time Strategy Game Training: Emergence of a Cognitive Flexibility Trait’ is available for free here.

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