This is kind of an odd hypothesis, but I wanted to throw it out here to see if anyone else has had similar experiences. I have a considerable amount of anecdotal evidence from playing and observing FPS video games.
Hypothesis: your perception of an event happens faster if you caused that event.
For example, if you walk around the corner of a building then you immediately perceive the new visual scene on the other side of the building. On the other hand, if you’re standing still on the other side of that building and someone walks into your field of view then your perception of that person is delayed compared to their perception their new visual input.
I think this happens because your brainwaves (which are the basis of perception) naturally synchronize with external events, but only if you are able to predict precisely when an event will occur. If you can’t predict when an event will occur then your brainwaves proceed in a periodic fashion and if an event occurs in between brainwaves then the perception of the event is delayed until the next brainwave.
The result is that by causing an event, your brain is able to process the event immediately instead of waiting for the next periodic brainwave. This results in a speedup in sensory processing latency of no more than one brainwave period, which can give counterstrike players a significant advantage.
First let us reduce first-person-shooter video games to their most basic mechanics. Two players inhabit a simulated 3D world, which they view and interact with through a first person perspective. The goal of the game is to find and click on the other player. The game is competitive, so the first person to find and click on their opponent typically wins the game. It is, in a sense, a competitive game of hide and seek.
Broadly speaking, there are two strategies: attacking and defending. Attackers move through the world actively searching for their opponent. Defenders move to an advantageous position and wait for an attacker to move into their view. More precisely terms: A combat engagement is initiated whenever two players move into visual sight of each other. The player who makes the final movement into such a position is the attacker. The other player is the defender.
Most encounters happen between an attacking and a defending player. Defenders are stationary and so they rarely find each other. Opposing attackers often encounter each other as they are actively searching for each other, however for this analysis only the player whose movement initiates the encounter is considered the attacker; the other player is merely a defender in an indefensibly position.
By controlling the final movement, you can gain a fraction of a brain wave’s head start over your opponent in the visual search competition. A common tactic is to peek out from behind cover which gives you the attackers advantage, and then to rapidly hide again before someone else moves to see you.
By planning out engagements ahead of time, defenders can make the competitive visual search easier for themselves or more difficult for their opponents. Typically this means engaging in locations where the opponents viewpoint expands to cover a significant area, or where their own viewpoint is narrowly focused on an area which the enemy is likely to traverse. Also camouflage helps.