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Collaborative gamers are smarter

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So, the kid is a gun at League of Legends, not quite the same as school dux is it? Well that mightn’t be entirely true; it looks like being good at Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs) is a strong indication of high intelligence.

MOBAs like League of Legends and Defence of the Ancients require a few things for success, you need to be strategic in your thinking and you need to be able to solve problems and think on your feet, which makes playing them a lot like what you are asked to do in an intelligence test or when playing chess.

Studies carried out at the Digital Creativity Labs (DC Labs) at University of York found a correlation between performance in the strategic game League of Legends and performance in standard paper-and-pencil intelligence tests.

That doesn’t mean that playing games makes you smarter but there is correlation between skill at certain online games of strategy and intelligence.

The team examined a group of subjects who were highly experienced in the MOBA League of Legends. A second study analysed big datasets from four games: Two MOBAs (League of Legends and Defence of the Ancients 2 (DOTA 2)) and two First Person Shooters (Destiny and Battlefield 3).

In this second study, they found that for large groups consisting of thousands of players, performance in MOBAs and IQ behave in similar ways as players get older. But this effect was not found for First Person Shooters, where performance declined after the teens.

Professor Alex Wade of the University of York's Department of Psychology and Digital Creativity Labs said: "Games such as League of Legends and DOTA 2 are complex, socially-interactive and intellectually demanding. Our research would suggest that your performance in these games can be a measure of intelligence.

"Research in the past has pointed to the fact that people who are good at strategy games such as chess tend to score highly at IQ tests. Our research has extended this to games that millions of people across the planet play every day."

Athanasios Kokkinakis, a PhD student with the EPSRC Centre for Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence (IGGI) research program at York and lead author on the study said; "Unlike First Person Shooter (FPS) games where speed and target accuracy are a priority, Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas rely more on memory and the ability to make strategic decisions taking into account multiple factors.

"It is perhaps for these reasons that we found a strong correlation between skill and intelligence in MOBAs."

Co-author Professor Peter Cowling, Director of DC Labs and the IGGI program at York, 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.

The researchers' findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.


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