To verify that playing video games actually causes an increase in perceptual or cognitive ability, researchers first selected individuals who naturally do very little video gaming, that is, individuals who have no familiarity with any of our training games and who usually play video games rarely, if at all. They are then pretested on whatever measures are of interest (e.g., low-level vision) before being assigned to one of two groups.
One group receives extensive training on an action video game (depending on the study, this may be ten, twenty, or even fifty hours of experience spread out over the course of many weeks). Another group receives the same amount of total video game experience; however, group members play a nonaction game instead. Researchers specifically select the nonaction game to be as interesting, engaging, and fun as the action game, but also one that lacks the critical demands present in action games.
At least twenty-four hours after the final training session, the participants are once again tested on the base measures of interest. The delay ensures that any observed effects are not due to short-term changes associated with game play Indeed, if we are to use video games as a tool for learning, it is critical that we make sure the impact is long lasting (i.e., it is still observable days, months, or even years after the end of the video game play training).