February 24, 2012

Games research in the news.

The bad: Children with deficits in attention and impulse control tend to play more games, while children in general who spend a lot of time game playing may go on to develop problems with attention and impulsivity.


The good: Older adults with poor scores in cognitive ability benefit from playing the MMORPG, World of Warcraft, with "significant improvement in both spatial ability and focus for participants who scored low on the initial baseline tests."


February 10, 2012

Video game study methodology

The media (scientific and popular) frequently report studies suggestive of the positive (and negative) effects of video game training on cognitive and perceptive abilities. While the benefits of training via video games is exciting, enticing, and intriguing, Boot, Blakely, and Simons (2011) assert that "the conclusion that game training produces unusually broad transfer is weakened by methodological shortcomings common to most (if not all) of the published studies documenting gaming effects." (Boot, Simons and Blakely, 2011, http://www.frontiersin.org/cognition/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00226/abstract).

One possible factor that could confound the evidence and conclusions of video game benefits on cognition is the varying expectations of experts and novices. Boot et al. (2011) illustrate this with a thought experiment. Imagine being recruited for such a study because of your gaming skills. Awareness of this reason for recruitment can result in an increase in motivation to perform well. Conversely, a novice chosen without awareness of the gaming aspect will not experience such demands, and consequently feel less motivated. Differences in performance outcomes may then appear placebo-like. In addition, gamers tend to be aware of the alleged positive effects game training (via games media/blogs) and thus expect to perform better, further increasing this effect.

This thought provoking paper is summarised in this entertaining and enlightening blog post by one of the co-authors, Daniel Simons.

May 18, 2011

FY1 doctors and drug/IV fluid prescription education.

There have been some concerns with the performance of FY1 doctors (at the point of graduation) and drug/IV fluid prescription.

Some FY1 doctors believe "that their undergraduate and postgraduate training in CPT is insufficient to prescribe safely and rationally."

"the teaching time devoted to drugs may not have been sufficient to cover a very complex and demanding learning objective. Second, there may have been a failure to emphasise the relevance of that teaching to clinical practice or sufficient re-enforcement of that message through assessment structures."

Could a carefully designed game or application provide an engaging environment to allow the "drill and practice" of presciption to augment and support the more reflective nature of solving problem based case studies? Can prescription procedures be translated into a fun game which allows rapid reinforcement of knowledge? If so, such a tool could prove useful in undergraduate and continuing medical education if its content (rules and objects) could be frequently updated with the latest best medical evidence or at least clinical guidelines.

February 10, 2011


Just started my studentship at the WMG IDL. Research will be focussed on medically orientated serious games and other use of digital technology in medicine.

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