by Graham Pierrepoint
It’s long been thought that a correlation between playing videogames and intelligence exists, and while various studies may have taken place over the years in an effort to try and put some solid data down pat, there has been little other than the stigma of gaming being a ‘geeky’ pursuit to fall back on. This is a stigma or stereotype which has largely disappeared thanks to games becoming very much a mainstream pursuit, however – though anyone who has really put their hours in on games such as World of Warcraft or League of Legends can rest easy that their brain power is still very much assured, if a recent study is to be believed.
A study undertaken at the University of York, UK, found that multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs) and battle strategy titles such as DOTA 2 and League of Legends could actively impact upon the growth of smarts due to how ‘intellectually demanding’ the titles are. “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,” Professor Alex Wade advised on behalf of the University. “Our research has extended this to games that millions of people across the planet play every day.”
“Unlike First Person Shooter (FPS) games where speed and target accuracy are a priority,” reads the study, published in Public Library of Science ONE, “Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas rely more on memory and the ability to make strategic decisions taking into account multiple factors.” This should certainly come as no surprise to those who have even merely attempted a strategy game as in-depth as the wildly popular DOTA 2 – as there are so many different facets and factors to take into account, you need a clear head, an analytical mind, a fantastic memory and the willing to take calculated, intelligent risks.
It seems, therefore, that old-school strategy and battle titles such as Command and Conquer may have paved the way for this brain-boosting super-form of battle gaming – meaning that, if your idea of kicking back and relaxing is taking on an hour or two of League of Legends, you could well be honing your intelligence while you play. For those of us still getting to grips with Tetris or the original Sonic the Hedgehog titles – don’t worry - we’ll keep you posted!