EntertainmentGamesPlaying action video games can improve our reading skills

Playing action video games can improve our reading skills

This is what a recent study published in the journal Nature Human Behavior suggests, which found that playing an action video game can help children significantly improve their reading skills.


explanation for benefit

For reading, we train skills such as vision, attention, working memory and cognitive flexibility and, precisely, a research team led by Angela Pasqualotto, postdoctoral fellow in Psychology at the University of Geneva, has demonstrated by creating, ad hoc , a video game with the aim of helping children to develop these abilities, which improves our ability to read thanks to the practice and requirements of this type of video game.

The experts designed a video game that combined action video games with mini-games that trained different executive functions, such as working memory, inhibition and cognitive flexibility, precisely functions that are used during reading.

“The universe of this game is an alternative world in which the child, accompanied by his Raku, a flying creature, must carry out different missions to save planets and progress in the game”, explains Angela Pasqualotto, co-author of the work. For example, the Raku flies through a meteor shower, moving to avoid them or aiming at them to weaken their impact, while collecting useful resources for the rest of the game, a bit like what you find in action video games. expert on the video game with which it was experimented for this study.

The scientists then worked with 150 Italian schoolchildren aged 8 to 12, divided into two groups: the first group was assigned to play the video game developed by the research team and the second group played Scratch, a game that teaches kids to code. Although both games require a great deal of attention and executive functions, they are different in their execution; one more oriented to planning, reasoning and problem solving and another with time-limited tasks such as remembering a sequence of symbols.

After initially testing the reading abilities of all children in both test groups, the researchers asked them to play two games for six weeks (two hours per week) under supervision in a school setting.

Once this time had passed, the experts again evaluated the children’s reading abilities.


The results

They were clear. “We found a 7-fold improvement in attention control in children who played the action video game compared to the control group,” Pasqualotto said. “What is particularly interesting about this study is that we carried out three other evaluation tests at 6 months, 12 months and 18 months after training. On each occasion, the trained children performed better than the control group, showing that these improvements were sustained.”

Among the benefits of having practiced with this action game designed by the researchers, there were also clear improvements in reading speed, in reading accuracy and, finally, in the children’s own school grades.

The next thing will be to adapt this video game to other languages (English, French and German) to investigate if these benefits can also be extended to non-phonetic languages, such as English.

Referencia: Angela Pasqualotto, Enhancing reading skills through a video game mixing action mechanics and cognitive training, Nature Human Behaviour (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41562-021-01254-x. www.nature.com/articles/s41562-021-01254-x

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