Psychophysiological Differences in Individual and Cooperative Video-Game Play: An Exploratory Study

Hoyle, Benjamin Michael (2019) Psychophysiological Differences in Individual and Cooperative Video-Game Play: An Exploratory Study. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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To advance knowledge on the notions of “coordination cost” and “team learning”, this study sought to explore differences in psychophysiological functioning among individuals playing a video-game (1) in a solo condition or as part of a dyadic team; (2) over three consecutive games in a dyadic team. Data from twenty-four dyads were collected for Study 1 and Study 2. The participants were all male with no less than 30 hours of experience in the video-game and 21 years of age on average. In Study 1 the participants played FIFA-17 (Xbox) against the computer in a solo and in a dyad condition. In Study 2 the participants played three consecutive games in a dyad against the computer. Performance measures, subjective psychological self-reports, and objective psychophysiological data were collected for both studies. In Study 1 Heart Rate Variability (p <.01, d = -.57) decreased, whereas power on the central (C4; p = .04, d = .78), parietal and temporal areas of the brain increased in the dyadic condition (Pz; p = .03, d = .44, T6; p = .04, d = .63). Therefore, playing in a team, in contrast to playing alone, was associated with higher cognitive neural load. In Study 2, Number of Fouls (p <.01, d = 2.41) and HRV (p <.01, d = .55) increased over time, whilst a decrease in power was observed in the frontal area of the brain (Fp1 p = .05, d = -.36, Fp2; p = .05, d = -.40). These findings suggest that conflicts occur in the initial stages of team development, and that learning of team (and motor) tasks leads to hypofrontality. Collectively, these findings advance the literature by demonstrating that (1) cognitive-neural and affective processes change in individual and team settings in line with the notion of “coordination cost”; and (2) team dynamics and individuals’ brain patterns change over time due to “team learning” and intra-team conflict.

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