Spatial skills are a strong predictor of success in learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) areas. There is ample research investigating whether playing videogames (specifically action games) can alter spatial performance. This dissertation presents a study that investigates the training effect of playing action games (specifically first-person shooter (FPS) games) - a game genre that has received the most attention in gaming literature - compared to playing non-action videogame on basic and complex spatial performance. The spatial abilities studied are: (1) spatial attention (or the useful field of view) as a basic skill; (2) mental rotation as a complex skill; and (3) navigation as a complex skill. After selecting the games, 32 participants were randomly assigned to two groups to play one of the assigned games for an average of 11 hours within one month. Both groups (action and non-action videogames) showed significant improvement compared to their baseline levels in spatial attention and mental rotation. Navigation did not improve. Also, results showed participants were able to maintain their improved performance for one month after the training. Training was beneficial for both males and females as they both improved similarly. The improvement in performance after training with both action and non-action games was surprising. There are possible explanations for this finding, and they were discussed in this dissertation.
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Thesis advisor: Antle, Alissa
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