For Science! Researchers find link between fluid intelligence and elite MOBA play

In a new paper released last week, University of York researchers sought to examine whether research that strategy gaming (like chess and arcade games) correlates with intelligence holds true in the modern games like MOBAs. “In our current paper we extend their findings by asking whether we can establish a link between intelligence and performance in widely-played, commercial, team-based videogames with global reach,” the authors explain.

The researchers examined League of Legends and Dota 2 players, comparing their ranks to their results on a fluid intelligence test and attempting to disentangle all of that from teamwork ability, practice, and age by comparing the results to those from more twitch-oriented games like Destiny and Battlefield 3 – easier said than done, since apparently there aren’t a lot of “olds” playing some of these titles – and the general population’s performance on fluid intelligence tests by age. The result?

“Overall, we found that MOBA-genre performance profiles followed a ‘low,high,low’ pattern where performance peaked in the 22–27 year old age group. In comparison, FPS performance followed a ‘high,high,low’ pattern suggesting that younger players had a relative advantage in this genre and that performance decreases monotonically with age. […] Raw (un-normalized) fluid intelligence scores usually peak in the mid-20s [60]. This also appears to be the approximate peak of video game performance in MOBAs that depend on a mixture of memory, tactics, strategy and reaction time (Fig 2) while games that emphasise more reaction times and hand-eye coordination (for example, FPS-type games) appear to advantage younger players.”

In short? “People who are good at a certain type of popular video game also tend to have high IQs. They are really good at problem solving and at manipulating shapes in their head. Formally: we measured the IQ of people who are expert at the game League of Legends and found that it correlated with their global ranking.”

What the researchers couldn’t determine is causality, which is to say that it is unclear whether people with high fluid intelligence gravitate toward these types of games (and then stick around long enough to practice and acquire high ranks) or the games themselves improve fluid intelligence (in concert with research on how action video games can train people’s visuospatial performance), though they say they suspect the former is more likely.

The whole article is open source, as are the data and the (extremely good) FAQ, so you can go take a peek yourself if you’re so inclined. It would be the intelligent thing to do, after all.

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26 Comments on "For Science! Researchers find link between fluid intelligence and elite MOBA play"

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Byórðæįr

MOBA expect you to take dissimilar object and create correlation between them. FPS allows for single objects to focused on. Also most MOBAs expect the screen to pan the way the old RTS would pan, if you mastered the skill of keeping the screen panned over what you needed to see you had an edge, unlike in first person shooters where if the camera breaks it is a bug.

So the link between MOBA and FPS, have a few fallacies where assumptions instead of hypotheses are made. The the MOBA players don’t tend to play both FPS, they tend to play MOBA and RTS, due to the user interface. The top FPS players get used to peeking around walls using the camera like a mirror held up to a corner, and looking behind and beside them while moving fast. Young people tend to have faster relaxes due to playing more sports. As people get older panning over a screen is less to keep track of than where you are moving but the very controls are not intuitive because they are the same controls we had back in warcraft one.

So some of the people that memories what happens if they press what button would have to spend time re-learning every chess move for lack of better phrase of what would happen if you make the interface more intuitive. So that might be what you see with the older numbers. The people that started playing warcraft when it was relesed have not had to learn anything new while the younger players playing first person shooters have had to learn new interfaces every time a new game comes out, so the youngest are most used to the newest interface of a fps, while the oldest are most used to the interface of the MOBA. I think it would be fun to see what would happen if a MOBA came out with a camera that followed the player with a split screen above it that showed the playing field.

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Bryan Correll

performance peaked in the 22–27 year old age group

So….the research also shows that I am, in fact, too old for MOBAs.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

O-O-O

KENCHMATE++.jpg
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Bruno Brito

U N B E N C H

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Patreon Donor
Schlag Sweetleaf

Outstanding Bruno, your Art-Fu is strong!

brunobrito11182017.jpg
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Jon Wax

Olds?

We aren’t playing mobas because they suck as nth a game and a genre. About as tactical as the typical 250 pound mall ninja doomsday prepper.

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Utakata

I’m not sure about this “fluid intelligence” nonsense. As anecdotally I have a extremely high spatial aptitude and my IQ last test was around 125 (about the same as Richard Feynman I am told) when I was last tested some years ago…however, I wouldn’t touch a MOBA with a 10 meter pole and a pigtail.

Perhaps this has something to do with my two learning disabilities, that takes the “fluidity” out my intelligence according to authors of this paper’s views on the matter. But I also have a feeling as indicated in the said article this maybe a “correlation does not equal causation” issue. As I am pretty sure media and marketing types will take this as a some sorta eureka moment regardless if peer review where ever to repeat this paper’s findings or not. /sigh

Also keep in mind, anything that uses IQ’s testing should be really suspected. As it’s been known to be dubious, as well as disingenuous, about measuring intelligence in any capacity.

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Jon Wax

But can u play bongos and pick up chicks?

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Utakata

*you

And no. Equating intelligence with another is one thing. Sharing personalities, traits and/or talents is entirely another. Though that really doesn’t need to be mentioned in the first place, lol.

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Jon Wax

U r the one who mentioned Feynman.

Yeah. It was a jest.

Pretty obvious you can’t do those things.

Oh and…

*sort of.

You must be great fun at parties.

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Utakata

…especially when my pigtails are in hosts’ frig eating all their ice cream they where about to serve that night. <3

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Utakata

“Maybe you said too much about yourself, Uta…”

Yeah, well…it should be pointed out this is not really boasting about anything. As this does make me immune from saying and/or doing dumb things. Let alone giving me any desire to play MOBA’s. Just saying. :(

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Bruno Brito

Like the article said, Causality couldn’t be determined. It’s unclear if you, being an “high IQ person” would feel attracted to these types of games, or they would help anything with your IQ.

And yeah, i would stay skeptical of IQ tests nowadays.

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Jon Wax

Iq is bad metric.

Had they said input processing or stimulus management, maybe acceptable.

Very few of us could handle being OIC in mag. Prolly less then a dozen during beta. Less could do it well. The amount of info u had to juggle all while actually playing AND communicating with 128 players in order to get 1 in the win column? My boy used to say it like this

“Not everybody can walk and chew bubblegum at the same time”

Factor in morale and personality issues and you’d find few had what it took.

Were they smarter then the rest? I dunno but I’ll say they were definitely more capable then the majority

Screw you, zipper. U got what you deserved.

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drgreenhoe

The only thing this study tells me is that the really smart people are the ones making the money while the youth are wasting their lives in pursuit of “fun”. Never mind the potential negative health effects of these choices.

Tamanous
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Tamanous

“Smart people are better at doing most things.”

Ok, where’s my Nobel prize?

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Utakata

It seems to be saying when removing the marketing jargon of “fluid intelligence”, folks with better spatial aptitudes might be better at certain games. They could be dumb as a box of rocks in everything else though.

venatis
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venatis

The research says one thing, MOBA chat says another.

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Joshua McCall

A pool of 56 people were tested. I can’t believe anyone would take this seriously with such a minuscule sample size.

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Zora

Soooo… from just world-class e-athletes to also mental powerhouses?

We got to suppress this news fast…if the space-nazis hiding in that famous secret base in antarctica nobody knows about catch wind of this, they might try and add the DNA of these caffeine-ridden, cussing ubermensch to their WIP aryan army cloning program.

What could possibly go wrong? <_<

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Melissa McDonald

I think it’s more like the movie “Split”, where they opine that multiple personality disorder is actually a sign of someone greater than one with a single personality…

i.e., B.S.

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Jon Wax

Split was bs becUse shamalan writes with all the depth, complexity and mystery of an edgy 9th grader. I’m gonna write a whoooole movie just to set up a reference to my other movie!

The monsters…are us!

Those aren’t your grandparents!

Dude is a technical master, but artistically he is so shallow that evrything besides sense would have made a better “tales from the crypt” episode.

Side note: if that’s truely you, props for authenticity

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traja

One factor to consider is when people started to practice the genre. Several older competitions have proven that starting at a young age can be very significant.

Gamers in their 30s didn’t grow up with FPS games because true 3D FPS wasn’t really a thing before Quake in 96. Strategy games on the other hand were available. Also gaming was more niche in the past so fewer older gamers have experience since childhood. And control schemes have evolved from joystics to gamepads… etc.

Basically I would be careful with drawing too many conclusions. The truth is probably a mix of all kinds of things and how they apply on an individual level is impossible to say.

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Jon Wax

Fewer

Like to see link to stats.

Been playing since the 70s. Gaming was niche til PS3.

Which coincides with when gaming starts to go downhill, cuz…

Mainstreaming sucks.

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rafael12104

Interesting.

Now let’s extrapolate this further. What is the level of toxicity can be assigned to rank and thus IQ? Is there a correlation? I bet there is. LOL

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Jon Wax

Same correlation that exists between cowardice and choosing to only play pve games.

So either 100% or none.

You decide. Lemme know what y’all choose. I’ll go with that til y’all meme up some new shit.

wpDiscuz