Not so fast: Rethinking the effects of action video games on attentional capacity


Jessica L. Irons, University of Queensland, School of Psychology, St Lucia, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia. Email:


Considerable excitement has been generated by recent studies showing that video gaming alters fundamental aspects of attention. We tested the claim that people who frequently play action video games (video game players (VGPs)) have a greater capacity of attention than those who rarely play video games (non-video game players (NVGPs)). We first attempted to replicate previous findings by comparing VGPs and NVGPs on a flanker compatibility task (Experiment 1). In contrast with previous studies, VGPs did not demonstrate greater intrusion from distractors, calling into question the reliability of previous findings. In Experiment 2, we manipulated the eccentricity of flankers in an Eriksen flanker task to examine the extent to which VGPs and NVGPs processed irrelevant peripheral stimuli. No attentional differences emerged in the conditions tested, with both groups displaying compatibility effects at all eccentricities. Together these results raise doubts that video game playing increases attentional capacity.