Constructing Expertise: Surmounting Performance Plateaus by Tasks, by Tools, and by Techniques

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gray2021topiCS TTT

Topics in Cognitive Science 13 (2021) 610–665
© 2021 Cognitive Science Society LLC
ISSN: 1756-8765 online
DOI: 10.1111/tops.12575
This article is part of the topic Tasks, Tools and Techniques Wayne D. Gray, François
Osiurak and Richard Heersmink (Topic Editors).
Constructing Expertise Surmounting Performance
Plateaus by Tasks, by Tools, and by Techniques
Wayne D. Gray,
Sounak Banerjee
Cognitive Science Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Received 19 April 2021; received in revised form 26 August 2021; accepted 27 August 2021
Acquiring expertise in a task is often thought of as an automatic process that follows inevitably with practice according to the log-log law (aka power law) of learning. However, as Ericsson, Chase, and
Faloon (1980) showed, this is not true for digit-span experts and, as we show, it is certainly not true for Tetris players at any level of expertise. Although some people may simply twitch faster than others, the limit to Tetris expertise is not raw keypress time but the techniques acquired by players that allow them to use the tools provided by the hardware and software to compensate for the game’s relentlessly increasing drop speed. Unfortunately, these increases in drop speed between Tetris levels make performance plateaus very short and quickly followed by game death. Hence, a player’s success at discovering, exploring, and practicing new techniques for the tasks of board preparation, board maintenance, optimal placement discovery, zoid rotation, lateral movement of zoids, and other tasks important to expertise in Tetris is limited. In this paper, we analyze data collected from 492 Tetris players to reveal the challenges they confronted while constructing expertise via the discovery of new techniques for gameplay at increasingly difficult levels of Tetris.
Keywords: Tetris; Choice reaction time Principal component analysis Expert Extreme expertise Perceptual learning Perceptual expertise Sequential decision-making; Time pressure Video games Skill
Correspondence should be sent to Wayne D. Gray, Cognitive Science Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute, Troy, NY 12180, USA. Email

W. D. Gray, S. Banerjee / Topics in Cognitive Science 13 (2021)

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