A study appears to have found a link between certain video games and intelligence – but the researchers are quick to point out this does not mean playing games makes you smarter.
The study was carried out by the University of York, UK, and is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
There were two parts to the study. The first involved 56 participants (51 of which were male with a mean age of 20.5 years). The researchers compared psychometric test scores from the subjects with their performance in the action strategy game League of Legends.
In this study, they found a correlation between how players performed in the game and how they performed in standard paper-and-pencil intelligence tests. The researchers said the correlation was similar to that seen in games like chess.
In the second part of the study, the researchers used existing data from thousands of players across a number of games to see how performance changed with age. This included the strategy games League of Legends and Defence of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2), and two First-Person Shooters: Destiny and Battlefield 3.
Results from this part of the study showed that performance in the strategy games matched changes seen in IQ as the players got older. However, in the First-Person Shooters, performance declined after the teens.
“Games such as League of Legends and Dota 2 are complex, socially-interactive, and intellectually demanding,” said study co-author Professor Alex Wade in a statement. “Our research would suggest that your performance in these games can be a measure of intelligence.”
The reason might be that strategy games focus more on memory and the ability to make strategic decisions, whereas First-Person Shooters mostly rely on speed and accuracy.
As mentioned, though, this does not mean playing certain video games makes you smarter. It means that if you’re good at certain video games, it might be a sign of intelligence. The exact cause of the correlation, however, is still unknown.
“Although our data indicate a link between intelligence and video game performance, the relationship is correlational and so the causality is unclear,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
The exciting thing, though, is that the MOBA genre may be a remarkable way to measure cognitive function. The large amount of data available on players could allow researchers to study cognitive patterns on a huge scale, offering a new insight into how a decline in intelligence and memory links to a number of age-related diseases.