Video games could enhance reading skills: Canadian study

BioShock Infinite Elizabeth with book

Playing video games could improve reading skills, according to a new Canadian study.

Shaylyn Kress, a University of Saskatchewan (U of S) psychology graduate student, led a research team to investigate how gaming might affect reading. As part of this study, the team analyzed the most popular types of games and looked at each one to determine the number of objects that players had to react to. These were judged based on their placement: peripherally (the side, bottom or top of the screen) versus the middle of the screen.

From there, participants of varying levels of experience playing games were instructed to read flashing words in one of eight possible places on the screen. These were a mix of well-known, simple words and fake words that needed to be sounded out to read.

Ultimately, the study found that the more successful participants were those who played more games. The reasoning, per the research team, is that exposure to peripheral demands seems to exercise visual attention systems in the brain that are needed for reading skills.

Speaking to Saskatoon’s StarPhoenix, Kress added that, per the findings, participants with more gaming experience may be able to read known words and sound out new words more quickly than those who don’t often play.

Of course, one research team’s findings don’t immediately prove that gaming can benefit reading, but it’s an interesting case study nonetheless. Given that the overwhelming majority of kids play games (89 percent of those aged 6-17, per the Entertainment Software Association of Canada), it would certainly be good if the medium improved reading skills.

Image credit: 2K

Via: The StarPhoenix