Competition exists in many forms. Whether it be in the workplace, on the field, or online; being competitive forces one to strategize. At its core a strategy focuses on one thing: outsmarting your opponent. Even with a game’s AI on “expert” most computer controlled opponents behave in predictable manners. However, play a human online and the dynamic radically changes. New tactics, new weapon combinations and the inevitable humble pie giveaway.
Humans behave differently and in strategizing we try to calculate our opponent’s next step, placing ourselves in our opponents shoes. It turns out this action of empathizing with our competition causes far greater brain activity than playing with a static/computer controlled opponent.
Research conducted by scientists for BMC Neuroscience shows when a test subject perceives they are playing a game against another human, the test subject exhibits high activity in the temporo-parietal.
“We therefore argue that the TPJ activity is only
secondary with respect to the game partner being played and rather displays a
somewhat general attribution of behaviour to another agent (and the analysis of the
goals and outcomes of such behaviours).”
Translation: The test subject evaluates their opponents available options, then plots their next move accordingly by guessing what their opponent would do.
More research needs to be conducted, but in this preliminary data a gender split is shown. Females exhibited less brain activity when empathizing. Now, before anyone scoffs at girl gamers, remember, higher activity means the brain is working harder, not necessarily smarter. Generally speaking, women are seen to have an easier ability empathizing with another individual. So girl gamers may have an edge…
What do you guys and gals think? Do you find gaming harder when going head to head against peers? Is this data common sense? I know the 9 yr-old kid always seems to punk me.
Click below for the full report as well as a further analysis from Ars.
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