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Thursday, June 27 • 11:45am - 12:05pm
Space Ranger Alien Quest: A video game to promote executive function

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Space Range Alien Quest is a computer-based action video game designed to assess and train a group of neuropsychological skills commonly referred to as executive functioning (EF) has been developed. EF is generally defined as a person’s ability to regulate cognitive processes, and encompasses the processes of shifting, updating and monitoring, and inhibition. 

Improved EF skills have been associated with a range of beneficial outcomes; such as academic performance (Gathercole et al., 2004), mental and physical health (Prince et al., 2007; Dunn, 2010). Research has shown great potential to train EF skills (Diamond & Lee, 2011; Thorell et al., 2009). Interventions using action video game play have proven to have beneficial effects on cognitive constructs including visuospatial attention and selective attention (Green and Bavelier 2006). However, no empirically validated video game targeted at promoting EF skills has yet been developed for intervention. 

In the Space Ranger Alien Quest game (SRAQ; http://games4health.psy.univie.ac.at/aliengame/) players take on the role of a Space Ranger, with the goal of taking care of all of the aliens that appear on-screen by giving them food and drink items. The game consisted of different types of aliens, which are identifiable through color and shape attributes. Participants are asked to match food or drink to the two different types of aliens (e.g., “Red aliens are hungry; blue aliens are thirsty”). Participants proceed to more difficult levels, during which the rules for matching are switched, such that aliens that previously were matched with food are now matched with drink, and vice versa (e.g., “Red aliens are now thirsty; blue aliens are hungry.”). Participants who initially fail repeated the level until they are successful in applying the rules for matching. Subsequent levels gradually increases in complexity, such that higher-order rules are introduced, indicated by background features of the screen (e.g., “During the day: red aliens are hungry; blue aliens are thirsty”, but “During the night: red aliens are thirsty; blue aliens are hungry”).  

This talk will discuss the game itself and recent research findings with close to 90 kids in a clinical trial of the game.

avatar for Alexander Hofmann

Alexander Hofmann

Professor and director of the master degree programm Game Engineering and Simulation Technology, University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien
Every child must have access to prevential psychological health training for it's own mental resilience!

Thursday June 27, 2013 11:45am - 12:05pm EDT
Room E: Justice Room

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