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Good performance in multiplayer video games linked to higher intelligence

Posted November 18, 2017

Scientists from the University of York in a recent study made a surprising discovery. They wanted to see if there are any links between the performance in two popular multiplayer kinds of video games and intelligence. Surprisingly, there is. Scientists found that those who do better at ‘Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas’ and ‘First Person Shooter’ games are generally smarter. But what does that mean?

People who do well in strategic multiplayer video games typically score higher in IQ tests as well. Image credit: Nelo Hotsuma via Wikimedia(CC BY 2.5)

Firstly, what it doesn‘t mean is obvious – this study is not showing that games are making children smarter. But intelligence is helping these gamers to do better at these strategic games. In fact, these gams can work a bit like IQ tests , allowing to compare intelligence of similarly experienced players. Also, scientists found that performance if first person shooters declined after the teens, but players were equally good in Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas as they were getting older.

The link between performance in video games and intelligence is not that surprising. Chess is a very similar example. A predetermined set of rules is limiting actions of the players, but at the same time it is very intellectually demanding to navigate yourself through these games making these rules work in your favour. Scientists say that a long-standing belief that smarter people do better at chess can be easily extended to strategic video games. It is so, because strategic games require skill, memory and a lot of thought before players make their next move. And scientists do think there may be some applications for this discovery.

Video games played online can become a tool of research. Scientists from all over the world can use scores from the most popular multiplayer video games to link intelligence and health. For example, it is possible to conduct longitudinal studies that would look how performance in these games is influenced by declining health. Possibly, by some healthcare decisions as well. Professor Peter Cowling, co-author of the study, said: “This cutting-edge research has the potential for substantial impact on the future of the games and creative industries – and on games as a tool for research in health and psychology”.

This doesn’t mean that all smarter people play video games. This doesn’t even mean that video games make people more intelligent. However, this does point out opportunities to research intelligence in a way that was never achieved before. And, if you happen to be particularly good in these sort of games, you can be proud of yourself just that little bit more.


Source: University of York

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