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Future Directions

Mobile devices have drastically increased in popularity in recent years, with estimates that 85% of 15- to 18-year-olds own cell phones as of 2009 (Rideout, Foehr, & Roberts, 2010). These devices provide nearly continuous access to games; hence, studies are needed to determine whether training effects of video games, especially in the domain of perceptual processing, vary as a function of screen size. Unfortunately, no study has yet examined this question. However, training studies that use mobile devices are now appearing. For example, Oei and Patterson (2013; not included in our meta-analysis) used five games played on an iPhone or iPod Touch, with outcome measures in domains of perceptual processing and executive functions. In the domain of perceptual processing, the first-person shooter game Modern Combat: Sandstorm yielded benefits for measures of atten- tional blink and multiple-object tracking, but not object detection [visual search]. A contrasting pattern was observed for puzzle games (Hidden Expedition Everest, Memory Matrix, Bejeweled 2) with benefits observed for object detection, but not attentional blink or multiple-object tracking measures.

In the domain of executive functions, the first-person shooter game yielded benefits for inhibition, but not working memory, whereas the opposite pattern was observed for puzzle games. Only the simulation game, The Sims 3, showed no apparent training benefits. These complementary patterns were interpreted as support for task-specific transfer effects for each game type. Note, however, that the observed results for executive functions did not match our findings, where non-Tetris puzzle games and first-person shooter games failed to yield any benefits (see Table 21.4).

The inconsistencies of findings across video game training studies warrant the use of meta-analysis to evaluate the impact of moderators, such as game type, as the literature continues to grow. However, in moving forward, greater attention needs to be paid to methodological issues such as control conditions (cf. Boot, Simons, Stohart, & Stutts, 2013), and participants’ prior gaming histories as moderators of effects. Generational changes in information processing due to the technological revolution are likely to affect training as well, in ways that may be difficult to quantify.

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