Hand-Ear Coordination

by Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo

Painting by Paul Davis.

Playing Papa Sangre has made me curious about the idea of hand-ear coordination. It seems like I am starting to develop some type hand-ear coordination. I am able to maneuver through the level, given a general sense of where the different sounds are. If I know the musical note is to the right I quickly wipe the cursor and move toward the sound, while keeping track of the location of the snuffle hogs growling in the distance.

We often talk about hand-eye coordination, and the importance of developing such skills at a young age, so I’ve become curious to see if there is any scholarship regarding hand-ear coordination and the role of video games in its development. Research conducted by those interested in simulation and gaming in the 1980s  indicated that video game players performed better in a variety of hand-eye coordination tasks than non-players. Where hand-eye coordination comes into play extends far beyond the scope of the sports world. As Barlett, Anderson and Swing remark in their paper “Video Game Effects” such skills are “important for a variety of behavioral tasks, such as performing surgery.” (393) A search of hand-ear or ear-hand coordination did not lead me to anything particularly useful either: an educational site called VICurriculum.org suggests some tools for helping to build ear-hand coordination; I was somehow directed to an article about text-to-speech synthesis;

Finally after searching online, I discovered an article by Akiko Busch of the American Craft Council, who talks about the fact that “the physical act of listening is so innate and important to the process of making things.” Neurologist Frank Wilson has echoed this sentiment, suggesting that there is something primal about hearing and using the hands. Ultimately what this could mean is that people who play games like Papa Sangre extensively, in which excellent hand-ear coordination is required throughout, could become excellent craftsmen and women, understanding the unique sounds produced by each material and translating this knowledge into the way in which materials are sculpted. This certainly has implications for dancing as well.


Anderson, C. A., Barlett, C. P., & Swing, E. L. (2009). “Video game effects – Confirmed, suspected, and speculative: A review of the evidence.” Simulation and Gaming, 40(3), pp. 377-403.

Busch, A. (2011). Hand-Ear Coordination. American Craft Magazine [online], 71. Retrieved March 1, 2011, from http://craftcouncil.americancraftmag.org/magazine/article/hand-ear-coordination