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This is what you will learn by playing hidden object games - popular applications

Ewa Czajkowska     22 lipca, 2017

This is what you will learn by playing hidden object games - popular applications

It turns out that mobile games not only captivate our attention and help kill time, but also support the development of skills that are useful in life. What can we learn from popular applications?

Modern studies conducted at the University of California and the University of Singapore show that playing games of certain type using a tablet or smartphone increase the efficiency of selected cognitive processes. To experience these positive effects, it is enough to play games for as little as a few hours per week. One type of applications analysed by psychologists was the hidden object type of games. In this type of apps, the aim of the user is to spot and mark on the touch screen objects hidden in visually complicated rooms that are filled with different items. By finding the needed elements, the player can progress in the game’s storyline. Which areas of functioning are improved by hidden object games?

An A for spatial memory
Scientists proved that users who spent one hour looking for hidden objects on the screen of their tablets or smartphones 5 times a week in the timeframe of one month later became better at performing complicated tasks which required spatial memory. The test was based on deciding, in 5 seconds, if the objects presented on screen for half a second were located in the exact same places or if their arrangement changed in comparison to their first presentation. The answers provided by the people asked to play hidden games were over 10% more accurate than during their first approach to the test before they started playing. With the increase in the level of complexity, the discrepancies became bigger.

Better reaction time to visual stimuli
A similar effect was observed in terms of the reaction time to the displayed objects. In case of a task which was based on finding a shape fulfilling certain criteria, the use of hidden object games significantly improved the speed of the task’s completion. The effect was amplified with the increase in the number of distracting elements and when other visual tests were conducted between the repetitions of the trial. In some cases, reaction time was faster by as much as 20%.

Improved conclusions, expanded imagination and... improved relationships
The creators of these applications claim that there are other positive, more subtle effects of using hidden object games. – The mechanisms used in this type of applications – directed at children and adults alike – often demand not only finding a specific object hidden on the screen, but also solving a bigger puzzle. Finding a specific element is only a part of the fun, one step. – says Marek Guzowski, the chairman of Splendid Stories, the producer of the app “Detective Jolly Head Street of Secrets”. – By taking up the role of the investigator, evidence analyst or the interviewer of suspects, we develop our perception and stimulate imagination. These effects are of particular importance for the proper development of children. Playing games together may also help strengthen the bonds between parents and their sons and daughters – the expert continues. A report by the Essential Software Association shows that parents who play with the youngest children share this view. 88% of them claim that it is great fun for the whole family and 76% consider it as an excellent method of building positive relationships.

Therefore, in the light of the most recent studies, it may be concluded that entertainment mobile applications support cognitive development in areas similar to the ones presented in-game. It is worth to remember about this when choosing applications – for ourselves and for our children.