The World (of Warcraft) through the eyes of an expert

  • Marzouki Yousri
  • Dusaucy Valériane
  • Chanceaux Myriam
  • Mathot Sebastiaan

  • Expertise
  • Eye-movement
  • Visual saliency
  • Pupillometry

ART

Negative correlations between pupil size and the tendency to look at salient locations were found in recent studies (e.g., Mathotetal., 2015). It is hypothesized that this negative correlation might be explained by the mental effort put by participants in the task that leads in return to pupil dilation. Here we present an exploratory study on the effect of expertise on eye-movement behavior. Because there is no available standard tool to evaluate WoW players' expertise, we built an off-game questionnaire testing players' knowledge about WoW and acquired skills through completed raids, highest rated battlegrounds, Skill Points, etc. Experts (N=4) and novices (N=4) in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft (WoW) viewed 24 designed video segments from the game that differ in regards with their content (i.e, informative locations) and visual complexity (i.e, salient locations). Consistent with previous studies, we found a negative correlation between pupil size and the tendency to look at salient locations (experts, r = -.17, p < .0001, and novices, r = -.09, p < .0001). This correlation has been interpreted in terms of mental effort: People are inherently biased to look at salient locations (sharp corners, bright lights, etc.), but are able (i.e., experts) to overcome this bias if they invest sufficient mental effort. Crucially, we observed that this correlation was stronger for expert WoW players than novice players (Z = -3.3, p = .0011). This suggests that experts learned to improve control over eye-movement behavior by guiding their eyes towards informative, but potentially low-salient areas of the screen. These findings may contribute to our understanding of what makes an expert an expert.