Humans show a remarkable capacity to navigate various environments using different navigation strategies, and we know that strategy changes across the life span. However, this observation has been based on studies of small sample sizes. To this end, we used a mobile app-based video game (Sea Hero Quest) to test virtual navigation strategies and memory performance within a distinct radial arm maze level in over 37,000 participants. Players were presented with 6 pathways (3 open and 3 closed) and were required to navigate to the 3 open pathways to collect a target. Next, all 6 pathways were made available and the player was required to visit the pathways that were previously unavailable. Both reference memory and working memory errors were calculated. Crucially, at the end of the level, the player was asked a multiple-choice question about how they found the targets (i.e., a counting-dependent strategy vs. a landmark-dependent strategy). As predicted from previous laboratory studies, we found the use of landmarks declined linearly with age. Those using landmark-based strategies also performed better on reference memory than those using a counting-based strategy. These results extend previous observations in the laboratory showing a decreased use of landmark-dependent strategies with age.

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