Search and Match Task: Development of a Taskified Match-3 Puzzle Game to Assess and Practice Visual Search

Chesham, Alvin; Gerber, Stephan Moreno; Schütz, Narayan; Saner, Hugo Ernst; Gutbrod, Klemens; Müri, René Martin; Nef, Tobias; Urwyler, Prabitha (2019). Search and Match Task: Development of a Taskified Match-3 Puzzle Game to Assess and Practice Visual Search. JMIR Serious Games, 7(2), e13620. JMIR Publications 10.2196/13620

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Background: Visual search declines with aging, dementia, and brain injury and is linked to limitations in everyday activities. Recent studies suggest that visual search can be improved with practice using computerized visual search tasks and puzzle video games. For practical use, it is important that visual search ability can be assessed and practiced in a controlled and adaptive way. However, commercial puzzle video games make it hard to control task difficulty, and there are little means to collect performance data. Objective: The aim of this study was to develop and initially validate the search and match task (SMT) that combines an enjoyable tile-matching match-3 puzzle video game with features of the visual search paradigm (taskified game). The SMT was designed as a single-target visual search task that allows control over task difficulty variables and collection of performance data. Methods: The SMT is played on a grid-based (width × height) puzzle board, filled with different types of colored polygons. A wide range of difficulty levels was generated by combinations of 3 task variables over a range from 4 to 8 including height and width of the puzzle board (set size) and the numbers of tile types (distractor heterogeneity). For each difficulty level, large numbers of playable trials were pregenerated using Python. Each trial consists of 4 consecutive puzzle boards, where the goal of the task is to find a target tile configuration (search) on the puzzle board and swap 2 adjacent tiles to create a line of 3 identical tiles (match). For each puzzle board, there is exactly 1 possible match (single target search). In a user study with 28 young adults (aged 18 to 31 years), 13 older (aged 64 to 79 years) and 11 oldest (aged 86 to 98 years) adults played the long (young and older adults) or short version (oldest adults) of the difficulty levels of the SMT. Participants rated their perception and the usability of the task and completed neuropsychological tests that measure cognitive domains engaged by the puzzle game. Results: Results from the user study indicate that the target search time is associated with set size, distractor heterogeneity, and age. Results further indicate that search performance is associated with general cognitive ability, selective and divided attention, visual search, and visuospatial and pattern recognition ability. Conclusions: Overall, this study shows that an everyday puzzle game–based task can be experimentally controlled, is enjoyable and user-friendly, and permits data collection to assess visual search and cognitive abilities. Further research is needed to evaluate the potential of the SMT game to assess and practice visual search ability in an enjoyable and adaptive way. A PsychoPy version of the SMT is freely available for researchers.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Cardiovascular Disorders (DHGE) > Clinic of Cardiology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR) > Forschungsbereich Pavillon 52 > Forschungsgruppe Perzeption und Okulomotorik
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR) > DCR Unit Sahli Building > Forschungsgruppe Neurologie
10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research
10 Strategic Research Centers > ARTORG Center for Biomedical Engineering Research > ARTORG Center - Gerontechnology and Rehabilitation

UniBE Contributor:

Chesham, Alvin; Gerber, Stephan Moreno; Schütz, Narayan; Saner, Hugo Ernst; Gutbrod, Klemens; Müri, René Martin; Nef, Tobias and Urwyler-Harischandra, Prabitha

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology

ISSN:

2291-9279

Publisher:

JMIR Publications

Language:

English

Submitter:

Angela Amira Botros

Date Deposited:

17 Jul 2019 09:14

Last Modified:

22 Oct 2019 18:15

Publisher DOI:

10.2196/13620

PubMed ID:

31094325

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.130599

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/130599

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