New study finds athletes better than video game players at dynamic visual skills

A new study of the University of Waterloo reveals that athletes consistently fare better than action video game players for dynamic visual skills. Strong visual skills are crucial for athletes looking to perform at the highest level, and this is what differentiates an average athlete from an advanced athlete.

Dr Kristine Dalton is from the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences in Waterloo.

“Athletes involved in high-level movement sports – such as soccer, football or baseball – often score higher on dynamic visual acuity tests than non-athletes,” said Dr. Dalton. “Our research team wanted to determine whether action video game players – who, like esports athletes, are regularly immersed in a dynamic and fast-paced 2D video environment for extended periods of time – would also exhibit higher levels of sharpness. dynamic visual. tied with competing athletes in physical sport.

Dynamic visual acuity

Visual acuity is the clarity or sharpness of vision, and it is most often measured under static conditions during annual exams with an optometrist. However, new research shows that testing dynamic visual acuity is actually a better measure of a person’s ability to clearly see moving objects. It is a crucial skill for success in both physical and electronic sports.

The team of researchers used a dynamic visual acuity test designed and validated at the University of Waterloo. With this test, they found that physical athletes performed well on dynamic visual acuity tests as expected, but action video game players were tested closer to non-athletes.

Athletes vs. video game players

Alan Yee is a doctoral student in vision science.

“Ultimately, the athletes showed a greater ability to identify smaller moving targets, which suggests that there are differences in visual processing between them and our video game players,” Yee said.

Participants were matched based on their static visual acuity level and refractive error, which helped researchers understand how dynamic visual acuity is the variable factor in test performance.

Sports vision training centers that develop video game-based training programs to help athletes improve their performance will also find the new research useful.

“Our results show that there is always an advantage to training in a 3-D environment,” said Dalton. “For athletes looking to develop stronger visual skills, the wider visual field and depth perception that accompany physical training can be crucial in improving their dynamic visual acuity – and, ultimately, their athletic performance.”

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