How Much Does My Brother Listen To Me vs The Xbox?

Multi-tasking. Something we all think we can do, yet very rarely are actually able to achieve. For this blog post, I will be exercising the question of how much we can focus on our surroundings and conversations whilst be preoccupied with technology; this being my experiment on my brother whilst he plays the Xbox. I chose this experiment to test his focus on a conversation (with me) whilst his reflexes and mindset is focused on achieving an victory for Arsenal against Real Madrid. He did not know this exercise was taking place until afterwards, as that way I can achieve authentic, raw outcomes.

Video games are a controversial topic, especially in the field of it’s impact on the minds of young children/adults. From the likes of video game inspired actions such as the Columbine Tragedy,  through to brain development, video games are a goldmine of controversy and back-and-forth of scientific arguments. Now, back to the brother and his FIFA addiction.

Whilst he continues to be drawn into the world of miniature, virtual Ronaldo and Rooney, I begin to ask simple questions.

Me- “How was work today?”

Ben- “Oh, good, why?”

M- “Just wondering, are you enjoying the mechanics?”

B- “Yeah, it’s pretty good.”

M– “What time is Adam’s birthday lunch tomorrow again?”

B- “Um, i think 11am?” (Correct.)

Okay, so far so good. I wait until the match is into it’s last 4 minutes, the “Danger Zone.”

M-“What do you think of the grand final this weekend? Cowboys or Broncos?”

B-“Probably Broncos, i don’t know.”

M “Oh, what did Dad talk to you about last night?”

Now this is where his focus should be tested.

B– “What? Oh, um, something about something.”

M– “Was it about the lawns or the garage?”

B– “…pause….pause….oh, um, um, I think it was the front yard, i don’t know”

It was actually about the garage, and Dad spoke to him that morning, not the night before. So, as we can see, Ben’s focus was gradually affected more the game went on and it’s intensity. This is something that is gradually being worked upon my psychologists within these fields. For example, Improving Multi-tasking ability through action video games from Applied Ergonomics (2013) suggests that teengares can increase their multi-tasking skills over time by playing video games by being spoken to and engaged with. However, this depends on these teenagers to be playing these games in a social setting and being engaged, not locked away in their rooms alone or by themselves late at night in the living room.

I feel that it is a subjective topic, for it varies on numerous factors such as:

  • Type of video game (action, sports etc)
  • Intensity/difficulty of said game
  • Surroundings (social, natural)
  • Individual mood (happy, sad, stressed.)

These all impact in many different ways, which can alter each altercation between the indivual and their gaming experience. Never the less, it was interesting to use my brother as a guinea pig, even for only 10 minutes.

Stay Classy UOW,

Todd Steele.


Dan Chiappe, Mark Conger, Janet Liao, J. Lynn Caldwell, Kim-Phuong L. Vu,, Applied Ergonomics, Volume 44, Issue 5, September 2013, Page 850 PDF (147 K)


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