RTS games make you smarter. That might not sound too surprising to folks who play the genre. But now we have evidence toward the claim thanks to a recent study.
Reported by Gadgets360, The Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Neuroinformation at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (or MEKLNUESTC) conducted a study. The study used 38 young men from the university, and was focusing on how video games impact visual selective attention. The game of choice was League of Legends and their focus was tested with what is called a blink test.
“We found that expert League of Legend players outperformed beginners in the task. The experts were less prone to the blink effect, detecting targets more accurately and faster, and as shown by their stronger P3b, gave more attentional cognitive resources to each target.”
To be honest, there are a few aspects to this study that make us skeptical. The first is with the game of choice. League of Legends is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game, a MOBA. While we believe that MOBAs are considered RTS games, there are still very important differences. The largest difference is that in a MOBA, you control one character, while a traditional RTS involves managing entire armies of units. There’s also an aspect of resource management not seen in MOBAs.
The other concern is with their testing group. A good study will have hundreds to thousands of people involved, with diverse backgrounds. We wouldn’t exactly consider 38 young males from the same university a large and diverse group.
While the study remarks that those with extended experience at League of Legends had better focus, there remains a lot of possibilities that were not considered. Are they more attentive because they play the game a lot, or does League of Legends attract people with higher focus levels? It doesn’t confirm that the game is the reason, correlation without causation and all that
We still believe that playing RTS games can help develop a powerful and quick mind, but this study, in our opinion, does a poor job of confirming it.