Playing video games can be seen as a relatively sedentary form of entertainment, but certain parts of you actually remain pretty busy while gaming. Obviously, your thumbs are getting a good workout, but the most active part of the typical gamer’s body are probably their eyes.
To prove this point, YouTuber Jon Matthis hooked up an eye tracker that shows exactly what he’s looking at while playing Overwatch, and the results are fascinating. Playing as Roadhog, Matthis’ eyes largely stay anchored to the center of the screen, but they’re also constantly scanning for opponents, and occasionally bouncing to the game’s various meters to keep track of vital info. Watching the above video will really give you a sense of how elegantly-designed Overwatch is, while also making your eyes feel kind of tired.
In a Reddit post, Matthis provided some scientific background for his little experiment:
“Humans are very visual animals, but we only really get high quality visual information from a fairly small area of our retina (roughly the width of your thumb at arm's length). This area takes up roughly 1% of your visual field, but roughly 50% of your visual cortex is devoted to processing information from this area.
That means that a huge part of the human strategy for surviving in the world revolves around our ability to quickly and accurately directing our fovea to the parts of the world that contain the information that we need to complete a given task. Because eye movements are so central to our neural strategy, eye trackers are a very powerful tool for the study of human sensorimotor control. Basically, eye movements are a physical measurement that provides direct insight into your cognitive processes!”
As other people have mentioned, it would be interesting to see the differences in eye movement when playing as different Overwatch Heroes. Roadhog is a fairly straightforward character, but what might somebody’s eyeballs do when playing as Ana, Genji, or Tracer? I’d also love to see what my eyes do when I’m playing a horror game like Resident Evil 7 or a pixel-hunting adventure game like Full Throttle. So yeah, more eye tracking gaming videos! I promise to watch ‘em, at least.
Need more Overwatch news and analysis? You can keep a watchful eye on WWG’s coverage, right here.