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Video Games and Hand Eye Coordination

Written by: Jasmine Chiam
Video Games and Hand Eye Coordination

Numerous studies conducted over the years have explored the link between playing video games and enhanced hand-eye coordination. Ultimately, all this research has yet to confirm a significant relationship between video gaming and improvement in hand-eye coordination. Some studies have supported this fact, but their findings have been refuted by other research.

Overall, video games may improve your hand-eye coordination, but not to a large extent. Video gamers could, in general, have inherently better hand-eye coordination than non-gamers. Naturally, those with better hand-eye coordination may be more drawn to playing video games.

What Is Hand-Eye Coordination and Why Is It Important?

Hand-eye coordination, or eye-hand coordination, refers to the ability to carry out activities requiring the use of both your hands and eyes. Any visual input received by the eyes is then utilized to guide and direct the movements of your hands to perform a task. Basically, hand-eye coordination allows you to carry out day-to-day activities and interact with surrounding objects and people [1].

Researchers have spent decades investigating if video games can affect your mental abilities and improve brain-based skills, including hand-eye coordination.

Some Research Suggests That Video Gaming May Help With Hand-Eye Coordination

Research conducted before the 2000s has started exploring the connection between video gaming and increased hand-eye coordination. Several of these studies have suggested that playing video games may give you better hand-eye coordination, but it’s challenging to confirm the significance of this association [2].

For instance, one study compared the performance between video gamers and non-gamers on a pursuit rotor. The pursuit rotor is a task that is commonly used to measure motor learning and hand-eye coordination. Essentially, the individual is tasked with following (pursuing) a small disc on a rotating platform. The study found that video game players significantly outperformed their non-gaming counterparts [3].

However, researchers could not conclude that video gaming improved hand-eye coordination. While that may be true, there may also be an equally-plausible explanation for these results: Video games are designed to attract and appeal to audiences with inherently excellent hand-eye coordination [3].

Another 2014 study gathered a group of video game players and non-video game players and measured their capabilities in a motion-tracking task. In this study, participants had to control a cursor and keep it in the center of the target at all times [4].

At the start, both groups performed equally well. However, when the target displayed a consistent motion, gamers picked up the pattern quicker and learned faster, which resulted in better performance over time when compared to the non-gaming group. Both groups showed similar capabilities when the target displayed an irregular movement pattern [4].

Hence, from this study, scientists could not conclude that playing video games improves sensorimotor control. Sensorimotor control is your ability to receive sensory information from your environment, such as through your vision, and produce a motor response. However, researchers suggested that gamers are more likely to pick up these sensorimotor skills quicker than non-gamers [4].

In short, these studies support the fact that playing video games may enhance your hand-eye coordination and boost your ability to learn new sensorimotor tasks quicker.

Other Studies Concluded No Significant Improvement With Video Gaming

One study conducted amongst medical students investigated if practicing video games could boost their hand-eye coordination. Since optimal performance in laparoscopic surgery requires enough hand-eye coordination, researchers were keen to explore if playing video games could improve that skill [5].

The medical students recruited were divided into two groups. One group was asked to play commercially-available video games, while the other group did not undergo any video game ‘training.’ At the end of the study period, researchers assessed their laparoscopic skill once more and compared their performance to that at the start of the study. They found that video gaming did not significantly improve their hand-eye coordination or laparoscopic skills [5].

Another study involved college football players. Half of them were action game players, while the others were not. Researchers then proceeded to test the reaction time and hand-eye coordination of both groups [6].

After that, all participants were asked to play action video games before they were tested once more. Eventually, researchers concluded that video games could improve hand-eye coordination and reaction time only to a slight extent and not significantly [6].

One final study tested the hand-eye coordination and reaction time between a group of gamers and non-gamers who were aged 18-25. Their hand-eye coordination was tested with a simple task. Each participant had to throw a tennis ball against the wall with their right hand and catch it with their left hand. From this study, researchers indicated no significant difference between the gamers group and the non-gamers group [7].

Cumulatively, It’s Hard to Draw a Concrete Conclusion From These Studies

Of course, the more you play and practice the game, the better you become at it. Video games may help boost your hand-eye coordination, and you may notice yourself getting better at specific games. However, this may not translate to everyday tasks, physical sports, or activities.

Furthermore, another very likely explanation for why gamers generally have better hand-eye coordination than non-gamers falls back onto how video games are designed. They may appeal more to specific audiences. After all, those with inherently good hand-eye coordination are more likely to play well, which may boost their enjoyment while gaming and keep them coming back for more.

Disclaimer: This is an educational post on video gaming and hand-eye coordination. It should not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. EsportsHeadlines.com and the author of this post disclaim any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, as it is not meant for diagnostic or treatment purposes.