Finding of the week #233

Visuospatial Knowledge Demonstration

During my ongoing literature review I often discover interesting facts about things I’ve never thought about. Sometimes I can connect these facts with my own observations: The result is mostly a completely new idea why things are as they are. Maybe these ideas are new to you, too. Therefore I’ll share my new science based knowledge with you!

This week: This time, I think about how computer games, by accurately and visuospatially demonstrating knowledge, can help players to develop an in-depth understanding of the encoded knowledge.

Computer games not only encode real world knowledge, such as equations used in engineering, to accurately simulate specific activities, but also use very realistic graphics engines to visually display the simulations. Depending on the perspective from which the game can be played, players can develop an in-depth visuospatial understanding of the demonstrated knowledge.

For instance, a racing game is mostly played from a cockpit or dashboard view thus giving players the impression of actually sitting inside of the virtual race cars. However, like in the real world, this perspective does not provide any information about the way how the suspension works or an accurate mapping of the wheels‘ positions. Hence, unless they already are expert players, users can only guess why their race car lost grip and subsequently spun out. Fortunately, many racing games provide a replay function that allows for an in-depth analysis of an race event by controlling the time as well as perspective. As a result, by analyzing an incident from various perspectives players can develop a visuospatial understanding of the underlying principles that ultimately helps them to improve their performance.

By changing the perspective, players are able to analyze specific effects in detail and, more importantly, to develop an understanding of the dependencies of individual effects. Furthermore, by visually demonstrating a specific knowledge, players can compile a mental model of the underlying principles as well as their effects which helps them to mentally simulate the outcomes of a specific action. That way, by achieving an overall demonstration, the visuospatial demonstration ultimately allows player to develop an in-depth unterstanding of the encoded knowledge and, as a result of this, a potentially improved performance when applying the presented knowledge in the real world.

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