Personalized Adaptive Training Improves Performance at a Professional First-Person Shooter Action Videogame

First-Person Shooter (FPS) game experience can be transferred to untrained cognitive functions such as attention, visual short-term memory, spatial cognition, and decision-making. However, previous studies have been using off-the-shelf FPS games based on predefined gaming settings, therefore it is not known whether such improvement of in game performance and transfer of abilities can be further improved by creating a in-game, adaptive in-game training protocol. To address this question, we compared the impact of a popular FPS-game (Counter-Strike:Global-Offensive–CS:GO) with an ad hoc version of the game based on a personalized, adaptive algorithm modifying the artificial intelligence of opponents as well as the overall game difficulty on the basis of individual gaming performance. Two groups of FPS-naïve healthy young participants were randomly assigned to playing one of the two game versions (11 and 10 participants, respectively) 2 h/day for 3 weeks in a controlled laboratory setting, including daily in-game performance monitoring and extensive cognitive evaluations administered before, immediately after, and 3 months after training. Participants exposed to the adaptive version of the game were found to progress significantly faster in terms of in-game performance, reaching gaming scenarios up to 2.5 times more difficult than the group exposed to standard CS:GO (p < 0.05). A significant increase in cognitive performance was also observed. Personalized FPS gaming can significantly speed-up the learning curve of action videogame-players, with possible future applications for expert-video-gamers and potential relevance for clinical-rehabilitative applications.

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