Is Your Brain Too Old For Video Games?

Today, 63% of U.S. households are home to someone who plays video games regularly. In the broadest sense most of us are “gamers” and “Let’s play” has become a national motto But since the early days of pinball machines and classic arcades, one thing has been crystal clear Some people are way better at this than others Nowhere is that more apparent that at a competitive gaming tournament Hundreds of players from around the world compete for prizes up to 50,000 dollars Watching the furious fingers of the world’s top players, flying playing combos and kills, the obvious question is “What makes them so good?” What makes the experts better than the rest of us? The obvious answer is practice, but looking around a tournament like this, one can’t help but notice these players are young The average American gamer is 35 years old and nearly half of all gamers are older than 36 But not here. Many of these elite players are barely out of high school You’d think older players could be more experienced, be better But that doesn’t seem to be the case here at the highest level. Are older gamers at some disadvantage? Are their brains already over the hill? To solve mysteries about how we think and learn Scientists have turned to games themselves And the most famous is one of the oldest For decades chess has been used to study complex thinking and the science of expertise. For instance, when shown snapshots of chess games Expert chess players can recall the position of nearly every piece, where average players cannot but when shown snapshots of pieces arranged randomly Expert players did no better than novices. This tells us that part of being an expert is extracting and processing information faster than the average person but maybe only in the context of that particular skill Real life, however, demands way more from our brains than what chess can teach us We don’t spend minutes pondering the strategic consequences of taking a left or right to avoid an oncoming train And we don’t plan our route to work in strange L shapes. But for a more real world look at how our brains perform scientists are turning to a different game Starcraft 2 in Starcraft 2, two players battle head-to-head for domination of a territory Winning means your army totally defeating the other. Just like real life, there’s no turns You simply do as many things as you can but a few things make Starcraft especially challenging I always like to compare Starcraft 2 to playing several games of chess, but in real-time So it is a game which requires Extreme physical dexterity But in terms of mental acuity you need to be able to make decisions in real-time at an incredibly fast place while working with incomplete information First most important thing to even get beyond average in Starcraft 2 is your ability to do what’s called “macro” Which is the management of your economy in the most efficient way possible But while doing so, simultaneously perform extremely rapid and intricate micro-actions somewhere else on the screen so the ability to do both those without compromising the other, that’s the mark of a true pro player With so much happening in different places on Micro and Macro levels Starcraft 2 is a recipe for cognitive overload Granted, Protoss, Terrans and Zerg warring over vespene gas and space minerals isn’t exactly “realistic” But playing Starcraft 2 is a useful real-world experiment. Multiple simultaneous goals, constantly Redirecting attention, real-time combat: these are test cases for many of our higher brain functions Since every mouse click and keyboard stroke in a Starcraft 2 game is saved in a log file Scientists can reconstruct every moment in a match and after analyzing thousands of games from every skill level scientists found Unsurprisingly, players who perform the most actions are more likely to win. Elite Starcraft players can regularly hit 300 actions per minute Even up to 600 in intense battle. That’s an unbelievable 10 actions per second, each with purpose. But let’s get to the most important question: Are younger players always better? -Some people think it’s a physical thing But I really don’t think so. There’s World-Renowned pianist who have been doing things with their hands like a Starcraft 2 player up into their 50s and 60s It’s not that we get mentally slower as we get older I think it’s probably the opposite, but what I do think that happens as you get older is you have more things on your mind Taxes, your wife, your husband, whatever uhh, It’s not that you’re mentally or physically incapable of performing as high as a level as you were as a younger person I think you are not able to put all of your thoughts in one direction, focus on the game. [Host] We all want that to be true, but what does the science say? Canadian researchers looked at how long it took players to act after moving to a new map view that lag was lowest at age 24 and slowed as players got older. A 39-year-old Bronze player may be equal to their 24-year-old opponent in all other aspects, but if the older player is just 150 milliseconds slower at acting after every map movement, that can cost thirty seconds over the course of a 15 minute match More than enough to make the difference at Elite levels. According to research on Starcraft It seems that after age 24 our brains are on the decline, at least when it comes to the thinking and moving part But if you’re older than 24, like me, don’t lose hope. When researchers looked at how players multi task, switching between Economic and military aspects of the game, they didn’t see that age-related decline Older players can use strategy and change the way they play the game to make up for some of the other losses -There are people that have made very successful careers for themselves focusing on the speed of the game Maybe they don’t always make the most amazing decisions Maybe they are predictable in their strategy, but they’re so darn fast that they will just drown you in actions Then there’s other people that are so smart, so intuitive they know exactly what you’re gonna Do before you even know what you’re going to do But in Starcraft you can be fast or smart or both And I think that’s amazing. So play while you can because whether you’re an average or elite player Time is of the essence. GG. Stay curious. Physics might show us the universe’s basic building blocks and biology lets the universe understand itself But chemistry is where all the fun happens in between. We have thousands of chemical reactions going on inside us every second But it’s the ones we’ve mastered with our hands in labs and workshops and factories and even kitchens that have made humans what we are today. A few chemical technologies have made such an explosive change in how we live that they’ve altered the very trajectory of humanity

1 thought on “Is Your Brain Too Old For Video Games?

  1. i don't like playing online shooter games, like the ones on roblox, because my mind tells me not to. Just because i slightly fear people making fun of me while/before playing due to inexperience.

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