Gamers can level up their skills with 10 minutes training a day, study says

2 Apr 2021

Lero’s Esports Science Research Lab. Image: Diarmuid Greene/True Media

The team at University of Limerick believes that its new findings could lead to benefits outside the world of e-sports.

Video gamers could significantly improve their skills by training for just 10 minutes a day, according to a new study by researchers in Limerick.

A team at Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland software research centre, and University of Limerick also found that novice gamers benefited most when they wore a headset delivering neurostimulation for 20 minutes before training. This was seen to accelerate motor performance improvements.

“One of the original and most prominent e-sports over the past 20 years has been the first-person shooter game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” explained researcher Dr Adam Toth.

“We asked participants to shoot and eliminate enemy targets as quickly and accurately as possible during their training sessions in the study.”

Participants wore a custom headset that was designed to deliver transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS). Some received no stimulation, others received a fake treatment, and the remainder received a 20-minute exposure.

The study found that novice gamers who received tDCS before training improved their performance on the specific task over a period of five days. This was significantly more than novices who trained following no such stimulus.

The Lero researchers, whose work has been published in Computers in Human Behaviour, believe this work could lead to benefits outside the world of e-sports.

Dr Mark Campbell, director of Lero’s Esports Science Research Lab and senior lecturer in sports psychology at University of Limerick, said tDCS may be beneficial during the initial stages of task learning.

“Stroke patients, for example, could benefit from tDCS at the start of their rehabilitation process when relearning complex movements that were once automatic,” he said.

Prof Brian Fitzgerald, director of Lero, added that connected health and human performance is an “area of enormous growth” and software has a key role to play.

“Our research in this sector extends from using artificial intelligence to improve cancer detection to the principles of software as a medical device, and it is an area in which we are continually expanding our capabilities and our industry partnerships.”

Lero opened the country’s first e-sports research lab in 2019, located at its base in the University of Limerick. The aim of the lab is to enable researchers to conduct studies designed to boost the performance of amateur and professional e-sports players around the world.

Sarah Harford was sub-editor of Silicon Republic