Many of the today’s popular video games, such as Super Mario 3D Land, Uncharted 3, and Infinity Blade II are not much fun unless you are able to sustain your focus and attention the entire time you are playing the game. The slightest distraction in these games can cause you to return to the beginning or become seriously frustrated.
A series of recent studies demonstrate how video game play improves specific aspects of visual and selective attention. Rather than viewing focusing as simply being able to sustain one’s attention to an activity, it is helpful to look at how video game play practices specific aspects of attention and focusing. These include the capacity to know how and where to get started and the ability to sustain effort over time. Here are some ways that video games teach focus skills.
Five Ways That Video Games Teach Focus Skills
1. Progressing through a series of levels to achieve a goal. Without sustained persistence and effort, one might fail at a difficult point and not go back to repeat the process in order to beat the game.
2. Ignoring extraneous activities in the game that are no longer useful. Many complex games change what it is you need to attend to in order to be successful, so that what was a priority at one point is no longer meaningful.
3. Practicing enough to master a technique. Repetitive practice is sometimes boring, whether it occurs while developing skills on a musical instrument or when handling the controls in a racing game. You need to sustain your attention and effort to practice enough to get good at these skills.
4. Recognizing incoming attacks. Most enemies have some sort of animation that plays out as they attack, allowing the player to recognize incoming attacks before it is too late. In Infinity Blade II for example, each enemy attack is prefaced by a “tell,” a small motion that hints at what attack they are about to dole out.
5. Keeping their eyes pealed. The weak spot is a common trope or device in gaming — a small spot on a tough enemy that the player must locate and attack to win. They are commonly marked by some telling feature, like a red dot or bright glow, requiring the player to pay close attention and size up their opponents before attacking.