The study of over 3,000 StarCraft II players shows a measurable drop in cognitive performance at age 24.
How old are you? If you’re younger than 24 and you’ve ever considered a career as a professional StarCraft II player, you might want to get on that as soon as possible. A study by Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, has analysed 3,305 StarCraft II players and discovered that once you get past 24, well, there’s no keeping up with the young-uns anymore.
The study, which included gamers as young as 16 all the way up to 44, showed a measurable drop in cognitive performance at age 24, a decline that continues over time, even at the highest skill levels of StarCraft II‘s ranking system.
But, there is a hope for us “older” games. “Older players, though slower, seem to compensate by employing simpler strategies and using the game’s interface more efficiently than younger players, enabling them to retain their skill,” says SFU’s Joe Thompson, the author of the study.
“Older players in our sample exhibited more impressive hotkey performance, even when skill was controlled for, suggesting that our participants may be indirectly compensating for declines by offloading demands to the game interface.”
“One possible concern is that our finding of age-related decline in StarCraft II could be due to a speed accuracy trade-off: older players become slower in virtue of focusing on accurate movements or strategic planning,” hypothesized Thompson.
The study shows that the median age of players decreases as they raise through the ranks of StarCraft II‘s leagues. In bronze league, for example, the median age is 22, while in Master’s league, the highest tier in the game, it drops down to 20.
So, while we may be getting slower in our “old age,” we are also getting wiser.