The Relationship between Playing Games and Metacognitive Awareness




Moncarz, Howard T.

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This study investigated how playing different types of video games was associated with different values of metacognitive awareness. The target population was first and second-year college students. The study used a survey methodology that employed two self-reporting instruments: the first to estimate a metacognitive-awareness index (MAI), and the second (developed in this study) to: (a) assess a respondent’s video and non-electronic-game experience (including both video and non-electronic games), (b) estimate the time spent playing video games (time played) over the prior two years, and (c) characterize the different types of video games that were played (to determine gamer type). Out of 759 surveys distributed in 29 classes (for first and second-year courses), there were 175 respondents. For the main analysis, 80 respondents were eligible because they were video gamers, aged 18 to 21 years, and undergraduates. Juniors and seniors were included to mitigate the risk of too few respondents. The analysis was based on a 2(time played) x 3 (gamer type) ANOVA for MAI. Gamer type was based on the predominant type of video games played among action games, strategy games, and coherent world games (CWGs). A CWG was defined as a role-playing game (RPG) in which a player explored a consistent and complex world to solve challenges or an entity development game (EDG) in which the player developed, managed, and operated a complex entity in a consistent world or context. The three gamer types were action, strategy, and CWG. The initial analysis revealed that action gamers and strategy gamers could not be objectively distinguished. Thus, three new gamer types that were consistent with the study’s objectives were specified. The first type played predominantly EDGs; the second, RPGs; and the third, neither EDGs nor RPGs as often. The third type was assumed to play predominantly non-coherent world games (NCWGs). Thus, the three gamer types were EDG, RPG, and NCWG. The results showed that EDG gamers were associated with a significantly higher MAI than NCWG gamers. F(2, 77) = 4.55; p < .05; partial η^2 = .11; and power = .76. There was not a significant association for time played or the interaction of time played and gamer type. In a secondary analysis, comprising 64 gamers, aged 18 to 21 years, and first and second-year students only, the results showed that CWG and EDG gamers were associated with a significantly higher MAI than NCWG gamers. F(3, 60) = 4.29; p < .01; partial η^2 = .18; and power = .84. Two possible hypotheses for the results were that playing CWGs foster metacognitive awareness or that those with a higher metacognitive awareness preferred CWGs. Because the methodology used a one-time survey, neither hypothesis could be confirmed or denied. Due to coverage and nonresponse errors, the sample results were not generalizable. Nevertheless, the results provided evidence of an association between CWG gamers and a higher metacognitive awareness than for NCWG gamers. The implication was that the study could inform methodology design for future research to develop an empirically-based taxonomy on game characteristics, organized according to their association with metacognitive awareness.



Metacognition, Video Games, Metacognitive Awareness, Games