Study shows League, Dota 2 players are smarter than FPS players

By Steven Rondina


Dec 30, 2021

Reading time: 2 min

Skills in certain video game genres can be indicative of intelligence, a proof of concept study suggests.

Ethan Mollick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, recently researched how video game skills in business students align with performance in classes. To test this, he used the game Sid Meier’s Civilization V, a competitive game where players look to conquer the world in one of a variety of different ways. 

The professor found that success in Civilization V correlated with success in business classes. This indicates that it’s possible that video game skills may actually track with some professional skills.

Civilization V is a unique game in terms of how it works, as it’s entirely turn-based and heavily focused on statistical analysis and planning. Mollick stated that it’s not the only game this applies to, though. He honed in on League of Legends and Dota 2 as games that can be associated with “fluid intelligence,” which effectively translates to problem-solving skills.

The intelligence of MOBA players was weighted and compared against the same metrics in first-person shooter games including Battlefield and Destiny 2. While stronger skills in MOBA games were indicative of stronger fluid intelligence, that wasn’t necessarily the case with first-person shooters.

“We propose that videogame expertise in commercial MOBAs correlates with fluid intelligence and the developmental trajectory of expertise mimics that of fluid intelligence across adolescence and early adulthood…The specific MOBA genre is remarkable in the sense that it already engages a vast number of players across the globe but more generally, complex, socially-interactive and intellectually demanding video games are now ubiquitous and generate a constant stream of performance data that can be normalized against millions of other players,” the conclusion reads.

Dota 2, League of Legends players are smarter than other gamers

The fact that MOBAs require greater intelligence than other games isn’t too surprising. Dota 2 and League of Legends require a great deal of critical thinking in terms of drafting, itemization, and leveling with priorities that shift based on the needs of the team and the state of the game. By comparison, a game like Battlefield requires less critical thinking and more quick reflexes and trained aim.

This doesn’t necessarily translate to the entire FPS genre, however. Tactical shooters such as Rainbow Six Siege, Valorant, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive all require players to balance their in-game finances relative to the situation. Careful teamwork is also required. This adds an extra layer of strategy, but it may or may not make a difference in terms of predicting average player intelligence.

Either way, expect more studies of this topic to come up. And don’t be shocked if your gaming history comes up during a job interview at some point in the future.


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