Science 3 min read

Playing Computer Games Improves Peripheral Vision

Olichel / Pixabay

Olichel / Pixabay

According to a new study, people who play video games have better peripheral awareness. This is especially true when the game requires its players to use their peripheral vision.

When playing computer games, we either have to look directly at the target or follow a character’s movement. It’s the most natural way to use our eyes.

But, the researchers at Lancaster University’s School of Computing and Communications wanted to explore other ways to use our eyes. And it began with a series of questions.

According to Ph.D. student and researcher at Lancaster University, Argenis Ramirez Gomez:

“We wanted to explore the opposite — is it possible to play games just by using our peripheral vision, is it possible to develop strategies to overcome the challenge, would it be engaging and fun and could these games improve our peripheral awareness?”

To answer these questions, the researchers developed three games that are based on popular culture and mythology.

Using Computer Games to Improve Peripheral Vision

In the first game, Medusa, users have to play as the Greek mythology gorgon and dig up mushrooms in her garden. Since a direct gaze at the mushrooms would instantly turn them into stone, peripheral vision is an essential aspect of the game.

The second is a suite of games collectively called SuperVision. Using only a mouse and their peripheral vision, players have to select or steer objects within the screen. The game comes with an eye tracker which notes and penalizes players for looking directly at objects.

As you can imagine, the players struggled to control the natural impulse to look.

In a statement about the participant’s struggles, Ramirez said:

“The players know they can’t look. But having to make decisions and interact with objects in the games forces players to lose control over their instincts and so they indulge their desire to look directly at the objects.”

Although the participants failed several times, they eventually figured out various ways around the challenge. For example, some gamers simply focused on a specific part of the screen.

Upon assessing the participant’s peripheral visual capabilities after playing the games, the researchers noted a significant improvement.

A single gaming session was enough to improve the players’ peripheral awareness. The study lasted for two weeks, and the participants’ peripheral vision continued to improve throughout the period.

Significance of the Study

The findings create a new way to improve athletes’ performance in a team sport. By training their peripheral visions using computer games, they’ll be able to spot teammates quicker.

Also, it becomes easier to identify and avoid potential dangers at the side of their vision.

Read More: How to Train Your Brain to Eat Less Sugar Using Video Games

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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