Higher working memory capacity and distraction-resistance associated with strategy (not action) game playing in younger adults, but puzzle game playing in older adults

Joe Cutting, Bethany Copeland, Fiona McNab*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Superior attention and Working Memory (WM) have been reported for habitual action video gamers compared to other gamers or non-players. With an online experiment we measured visuo-spatial WM capacity and ability to ignore distraction, and participants listed the video games they played. Categorising the 209 young adult participants (18–30 years) according to the game type they predominantly played revealed superior WM capacity for strategy and action gamers compared to non-players. However, re-categorising the games according to their constituent game types revealed superior WM capacity and distraction resistance associated with strategy but not action game components. In contrast to younger adults, data from 181 older adults (60–81 years) showed superior WM capacity and distractor-resistance for puzzle gamers, which was equivalent to that of younger adults. The results highlight the need to consider component game types in games research and inform the design of age-appropriate cognitive interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number E19098
Number of pages12
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Authors.


  • Gaming
  • Working memory
  • Attention
  • Ageing
  • Video games

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