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Your StarCraft II Potential Peaked At Age 24

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the but-you're-getting-better-at-producing-lots-of-vespene-gas dept.

Games 103

An anonymous reader writes "StarCraft II is popular among competitive gamers for having the depth necessary to reward differences in skill. A new study has found that your ability keep up with the game's frantic pace starts to decline at age 24. This is relevant to more than just StarCraft II players: 'While many high-performance athletes start to show age-related declines at a young age, those are often attributed to physical as opposed to brain aging. ... While previous lab tests have shown faster reaction times for simple individual tasks, it was never clear how much relevance those had to complex, real-world tasks such as driving. Thompson noted that Starcraft is complex and quite similar to real-life tasks such as managing 911 calls at an emergency dispatch centre, so the findings may be directly relevant. However, game performance was much easier to analyze than many real-life situations because the game generates detailed logs of every move. In a way, Thompson said, the study is a good demonstration of what kinds of insights can be gleaned from the "cool data sets" generated by our digital lives.'"

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Study slightly flawed (4, Insightful)

rs1n (1867908) | about 9 months ago | (#46764047)

A better study would be to analyze how the SC2 pros perform as they age. There is a big difference between the amount of free time a college student has to devote to playing a game and improving his skill vs. someone with a family and job to maintain. The article suggests that age is the factor in the decline of skill, when what it really shows is that most folks are likely to have less time to devote to a game once they leave college and take on real jobs and have kids.

Ergonomics (2)

mfh (56) | about 9 months ago | (#46764227)

My feeling is that a lot of older computer users suffer from ergonomic injuries as a result of repetitive stress. Eventually this won't be a problem for us as we move computers into the mind-space but for now when we have to physically interact with computers it's one of those injuries that can really lower the quality of life, let alone the scoreboard.

The older I get, the better I once was. (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 9 months ago | (#46764527)

I'm 55, I played my first video game of arcade Pong in 1970 and still play video games regularly today. It's not injury that reduces performance, it's age. My 25yr old self had less fat, more muscle, faster reflexes, a steadier hand, sharper eyesight, better hearing, etc, etc. Consequently my younger me was faster (but not nesissarily better) at just about everything. Age related injury is responsible for things like the fact I'm no longer able to kneel on a hard floor.

Re:The older I get, the better I once was. (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 9 months ago | (#46765489)

OTOH any game whose ability peaks at 24 is insufficiently complex compared to a real job or a real life.

Re:The older I get, the better I once was. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765699)

In chess, the better players don't typically analyze more moves. It's been studied extensively. They typically look about two moves ahead, except perhaps in the opening moves, where they have the most common openings analyzed to a depth of about 12.

Newer players, who are not as good typically look about two moves ahead too. Of course there's the true beginners, but let's gloss over them for now.

What makes the older players better than the newer ones is not the number of moves they analyze, but the quality of their analysis combined with their focus on good moves. Many studies suggest that the better players don't typically "see" the bad moves. If you ask a good player who's analyzed a position for a few minutes about a bad move, they will require more time to answer questions about the bad move. It implies that strong players don't consider bad moves in their initial analysis. Weaker players typically can answer questions about a bad move quickly, implying that they considered it during their initial analysis.

Perhaps for those who have taken the time to really know the game of Starcraft, they don't see bad moves, and their altered vision of the game offsets some of the need for speed. Perhaps starcraft is designed in such a way that speed is really the only metric required to win (like the button mashers of previous "olympic" games).

In any case, the analogy to dispatchers is ridiculous. Dispatchers have a fraction of the knowledge that Starcraft makes available when the dispatcher makes the call. In addition, the dispatcher's units carry around brains and can respond to "do the right thing" independently, including calling for more backup.

Re:The older I get, the better I once was. (1)

Mikawo (1897602) | about 9 months ago | (#46766389)

Many studies suggest that the better players don't typically "see" the bad moves. If you ask a good player who's analyzed a position for a few minutes about a bad move, they will require more time to answer questions about the bad move.

This happens everywhere. Not just games. If you get so used to doing things in a certain way, thinking outside that box becomes more difficult.

Re:The older I get, the better I once was. (2)

davewoods (2450314) | about 9 months ago | (#46767073)

This is the part that confuses me. As I get older I am noticing that I have lost my twitch reaction speeds, so I can no longer play Quake, or Team Fortress very well. However, what I have lost in speed reaction, I have gained in cleverness. Having played a lot of games and seen how mechanics work, I am able to more quickly come up with solutions to problems via "Out of the box thinking".

Now I am curious if anyone else is the same way, I suppose that now that I am forced to move more slowly, my brain is counteracting that by helping me strategize more quickly. Maybe it is just a part of my inner workings, but I doubt I am any more special than anyone else.

Can anyone confirm/deny this for themselves?

Re:The older I get, the better I once was. (1)

hawkfish (8978) | about 9 months ago | (#46782383)

As I get older I am noticing that I have lost my twitch reaction speeds, so I can no longer play Quake, or Team Fortress very well. However, what I have lost in speed reaction, I have gained in cleverness.

Well, there is the old saw that "age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill." Does that count?

Re:The older I get, the better I once was. (2)

master_kaos (1027308) | about 9 months ago | (#46767683)

I have a friend who is one of the top players at the local chess club, he says he sometimes finds it harder to play against beginners since they don't actually play with any sort of strategy. It confirms what you are saying -- he doesn't even consider bad moves, so when he is trying to see 2 or 3 moves ahead he never factors in that the beginner would make such a stupid move that it throws off his game completely. He will still whoop the new players ass, but he finds mentally it's a harder game then someone who is just a little below his skill level.

Re:The older I get, the better I once was. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46785771)

In addition, the dispatcher's units carry around brains

I see you've never worked in dispatch.

Re:The older I get, the better I once was. (1)

FilmedInNoir (1392323) | about 9 months ago | (#46766155)

At 41, it might be beyond my ability now to master twitch games. I have however become better at exploiting and cheating.

Re:Ergonomics (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 9 months ago | (#46764817)

My feeling is that a lot of older computer users suffer from no longer giving a fuck, after years of mismanagement and youthful exuberance, many older users have finally realised that having a life and not thinking computing is the be-all and end-all of everything is important.

true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765647)

We have a winner!!!

Yep (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46773637)

I will admit it is a skill, just one that takes a lot of time, and not just playing, but researching, thinking about it as you go to sleep, etc. I have things I would rather be doing, I think that's the bulk of it.

Re:Study slightly flawed (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 9 months ago | (#46764373)

They did they played people of similar skill. I still think you're right on the premise that the study could be flawed. What they measured apparently was APM if I'm reading this correctly. How else would they measure number of actions over time in Starcraft? I'm of the school of not wasting my clicks and I have low APM like 100-200, but my buddies are of the school of warming up clicking and excess clicking.

If they measured the APM, what appears to be less clicking might be actions that get more accomplished with less clicks by older people.

Anyway, my bro Victor gives me lots of slack in this. We were both Warcraft3 pros, just in different eras, me in ROC and him in TFT. I talk about wanting to go pro in the modern era with all the streaming because it seems so much more social. He says I might be too old. I know better >:)

My main reason for not going pro in Starcraft2 is that I only wanted to go pro to get hired by Blizzard, and during beta, a video game company hired me, so I've been programming video games instead of playing them, but not getting paid very well. I think the road for me to going pro in Starcraft2 would be too long and I wouldn't be surfing the crest of skill. Surfing the crest of skill is something a top level video gamers does when a new game comes out. He invents a a lot of the strategies others use, he practices from day one, so no one has any more practice. In short, when you surf the crest of skill, you start on top and you stay on top. If a top level video gamer starts in the middle of a game's lifecycle, he'll get crushed by players who aren't as good in general as him in video games, but has more specific skill to the game at hand.

I think if I picked up Starcraft2, I'd get crushed under the waves for the first three months, then at best after 9 months I'd be at the top of ladder. Starcraft 2 is a very demanding game, and even small mistakes can bite you big time. You could be doing well, but fail to defend a drop, and he gutted your economy, gg. Winning vs Protoss, but a DT sneaks by when you don't have detection? GG. All the small details is something a refined pro does naturally, but can be frustrating when you're not surfing the crest of skill.

I think Starcraft2 is pretty good compared to Starcraft1, but I do have one complaint. I feel the rush distances are too far away, and build times for t1 units could be shorter. I know why Blizzard made it so the rush is cake to defend, I even campaigned for easy to stop rushes in the beta forums. When the rush is easy to defend, the game gets to later games with bigger army clashing, and it is good for esports spectator views. I don't think it is necessarily good for the game. I'll explain in my next paragraph.

In Starcraft1 when I played at least, and I played at a high level was roughly: Early expand loses to rush. Rush loses to a defense because the rush distance lets you have 1-2 extra defenders to the attackers+ terrain. Once you defend an all in, you have a little bit more money which you could squeek into tech, then you win with teched units. Early tech normally(not always) loses to early expand. At first this looks like paper rock scissors which is lame in a fog of war situation! But look closely, making units both defends vs rush, and beats early expand. If it turns out they made early units in defense, you can go the tech route yourself. It was generally always safe to build some early units(unless you're zerg), and it was nice to get free wins when people tried to early expand on you greedily.

Starcraft2 doesn't have much early play. Sure sometimes someone proxies raxes because early pressure isn't expected then comes with scv+marine rush. But early play past scouting is generally not beneficial in Starcraft2. Making extra units in the beginning just slows your tech or early expand. The game is designed to give you a free pass to the mid game. Besides the queen being pretty good early, Protoss has one better with the Mothership core and turning Nexuses into big defense. As a player who enjoys getting into sparing with my opponent asap, I preferred Starcraft1 with shorter rush distances and the idea that I can always make a couple tier one units as a safe start plan. It is world's better in terms of multiplayer than War3 ROC though. I called War3 ROC Pacman to my friends. In War3 ROC, the optimal way to win(coming from the dude who was first to 1500 wins), was to single player clean up all the creeps you could in the best order you could do it in. Since the best way to win in Warcraft3 was to play Pacman with creeps and avoid your opponent(unless you get a lucky creepjack), it was effectively a competitive single player game. Okay, both of you, go play a singleplayer RPG, after 10 minutes, we'll see which one of you has the higher leveled party, and will be declared a winner.

So Starcraft2 is better than War3 in terms of multiplayer engagement, but I feel Starcraft1 is superior to Starcraft2 in terms of multiplayer. This could be fixed with just a tiny bit of editing build times, unit stats and abilities, and making a map with close rush distances. A personal wish of mine is that Blizzard would introduce the ability to make custom maps that contain a ladder statistic ELO rating. If every custom map had a ladder rating, not only would custom map players be more jazzed up, but people could try and make serious alternatives to the main game for a better meta.

Re:Study slightly flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765541)

24 is too old for the starcraft pro level. Best players are below 20 or even 16.

Re:Study slightly flawed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765639)

An excellent point, and there are other flaws in the summary's presentation of the article.

The assumption that playing Starcraft is much like an emergency dispatch office is one that would only be made if you never sat next to a dispatch office.

Perhaps when a call comes in, sending the nearest unit to it is similar; but, those units have brains (and can act independently), are seldom exactly where you think they are, are subject to communication losses, and can partially offload the decision making process, and provide you with 80% of your view into what is happening. In short, an initial call to a correct, known location, described properly, where you know the exact type of units to respond with, and their correct number, and the outcome is 100% known to be accurate is then somewhat like a single mouse interaction in Starcraft.

I'd imagine that Starcraft players develop much higher skills in determining minimal amount of units to respond, and maintaining the shortest path to the number and type of units to support their strategy. Not like a dispatcher can win, so I'm uncertain if the analogy holds for even a few minutes.

Re:Study slightly flawed (1)

Ziggitz (2637281) | about 9 months ago | (#46770419)

Exactly, if you tracked the shooting percentages of high school varsity basketball players you might conclude that freshman year of college is the peak potential for a basketball player. 99% of those high school players won't play starter positions in college and those that even make it on the team might pursue other goals instead of basketball if they don't think they can make it professionally. After college a majority of the successful college players still won't make it professionally. If you followed the data blindly you'd be betting on 19 year olds to beat Lebron James in a 1 on 1.

Ender's Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764065)

So that's why all the best soldiers were kids!

Re:Ender's Game (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#46766201)

"If you find yourself in a fair fight, you haven't done your homework."

Fuck this frantic shit, build the biggest, most powerful, most advanced, best-trained military. Bigger and better than the next dozen countries combined. Sail the seas and keep the trade routes open.

Re:Ender's Game (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#46768623)

That pretty much works in Starcraft, too

What about Brood War? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764075)

I'm betting your Brood War potential peaked at about 18.

Somehow I doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764085)

My potential at playing a game peaked at a time when I'd never played the game?

How's that work?

Re:Somehow I doubt it. (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | about 9 months ago | (#46764107)

You don't need to play StarCraft to be able to play StarCraft.

Re:Somehow I doubt it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764293)

Bullshit. I am not able to play Starcraft because I have something called a life and go outdoors.

Re:Somehow I doubt it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765287)

I'm a trustafarian and play Starcraft on a laptop in my back garden in Sussex suburbia, you insensitive clod.

I have serious doubts.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764171)

... that these measure brain decline since RTS is a game with the worst interface. i.e. it measures your ability to keep up with a poor interface.

I still play RTS regularly and place in the top spots and I'm much older than 24. Same goes for any high reflex game, I'm well within the top 100 in many global scoreboards for many high reflex games. Many games come down to things more complex than the brain, like the aging of the nervous system itself. Not to mention mad dedication and practice.

Re:I have serious doubts.. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#46764249)

that these measure brain decline since RTS is a game with the worst interface. i.e. it measures your ability to keep up with a poor interface.

How would you improve the interface? I'm not sure there's any way of handling 60 different units easily....

Re:I have serious doubts.. (2)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 9 months ago | (#46764837)

There is - but its very boring.

You generally look at the map from a distance, grouping your units into manageable armies. Then your entire interface looks more like a few points on a map and a spreadsheet as the relevant army stats are displayed in a grid.

This is the way real life Command and control interfaces are designed. A police 911 dispatcher will manage individual units rather than armies, but they will still need access to their stats (eg what equipment and training the unit has), their location and the location of any event (and the details of said location).

If you want to compare that to SC, you'll see it way different - much less frantic, which is important as you don't want the operator to be overwhelmed with information. You want them to see the "bigger picture" so they can plan the resource allocation effectively, calmly and with thought.

Re:I have serious doubts.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46767567)

Despite the RTS moniker, StarCraft is not, mostly, a strategy game.

Re:I have serious doubts.. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#46769029)

If you want to manage sc2 like that, you can.... you can press the button to select your entire army then click the attack button and where on the map you want them to attack, but your engagements won't be very good because your army formations will be poorly organized.

Re:I have serious doubts.. (1)

Specter (11099) | about 9 months ago | (#46769233)

A problem that Rise of Nations solved. Why that didn't make into SC2 is a mystery.

Re:I have serious doubts.. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#46769295)

Rise of nations has a few default formations. If you think that's good enough, you completely fail to understand army positioning.

Re:I have serious doubts.. (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 9 months ago | (#46770499)

Even so, Starcraft also rewards those who micromanage units - like a Terran floating a building as bait to distract unmicromanaged enemy troops while the Terran troops destroy the enemy. All while
micromanaging other stuff and building.

The real life command and control interfaces you mention assume the units won't need to be micromanaged.

This makes my old man brain hurt (3, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 9 months ago | (#46764175)

Maybe someone can explain what they actually tested here(besides reaction time), the paper and the summary both state that they matched players of similar skill level but found the younger players were better....well then if that is really the case you didn't match players of similar skill levels did you? If they are at the same skill level then how is the younger player any "better"? They seem to be quantifying it by measuring reaction time, but is a faster reaction time always better, especially if the results are the same? Maybe the older players are taking slightly longer to consider their options rather than just clicking like mad.... I'm not sure what they are trying to say here.

Re:This makes my old man brain hurt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764189)

You're confusing Starcraft with a game where strategy is actually important. The number one determinant of success in a fast-paced RTS/MOBA is your reaction time, which only increases as you age.

ur reaction time and APM (action per minute) can o (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764579)

high skill brackets in starcraf2 is all about strategy as players all have equivalent mechanical skills.

Re:ur reaction time and APM (action per minute) ca (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 9 months ago | (#46764971)

They're about strategy as much as rock paper scissor is about strategy.
Actually, that's not fair. Rock paper scissors is balanced - SC2 is meta-balanced by blizzard to achieve a desired win ratio.

AKA nerf Terran every patch until no one wants to play them.
It would be like making scissors break rock because more people choose rock.

Re:This makes my old man brain hurt (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#46764349)

Look at the graph [plosone.org] . Data often clarifies things.

Re:This makes my old man brain hurt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764809)

All I can think when I see that graph is "Correlation is not causation".
But "People who are done with school and have a job don't have enough time to get good at StarCraft II" doesn't make a very good headline.
At most one can say that low Looking-Doing latency is beneficial in StarCraft II but it doesn't take any other helpful skills into consideration, the correlation with age could be a fluke.
As usual, further studies are necessary to draw a conclusion.

In starcraft2, players play on the battle.net ladd (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764567)

In starcraft2, players play on the battle.net ladder which separate players into different rankings depending on their skill level.

It goes from bronze -> silver -> gold -> diamond -> master - grand master

In theory players in the same ranking (silver vs silver) should have equal levels of skill as their mmr are determined based on their win/loss against players in their level.

Re:This makes my old man brain hurt (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#46764767)

Yeah, you make a good point, this study didn't even claim find any correlation between age and skill-level; the headline is wrong. They claim to have found a correlation between click speed (reaction after the screen changes) and age, but even that claim is tenuous.

Re:This makes my old man brain hurt (1)

umghhh (965931) | about 9 months ago | (#46764931)

This makes me wonder how old were these 'researchers' then and how much of their brain mass decayed already because of old age?

In general any non physics or math study these days is soft science to me - too much shit and too much statistics that the 'researchers' do not understand themselves. But maybe there is truth in it. Maybe not. Maybe even there are people that are inclined to play silly games because of their click speed characteristic - faster than everybody else before 25 and dying of Parkinson at 35. Who knows? Maybe there are people that have slow mouse reactions but fast thinking that compensate that so they have never had to work on speed of their clicks? Other than that old people are slower then young - yes and? I guess I am an old fart because I passed age when such tragedies excited me....

Re:This makes my old man brain hurt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46768037)

The other thing to consider is that going over 200 APM isn't going to improve your gameplay at all. The major reason they have such a high APM in the first place is because they constantly rotate through all their hotkeys to keep their fingers moving and to see whats happening everywhere. It's not related to actual gameplay, it's more like muscle memory.

Oh yeah? (4, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#46764183)

I score high on the Get Off My Lawn game.

Re:Oh yeah? (1)

ShoulderOfOrion (646118) | about 9 months ago | (#46764719)

Age and treachery will overcome youth and skill. The best part of the Get Off My Lawn game are the cheatcodes you learn along the way.

Re:Oh yeah? (1)

freeze128 (544774) | about 9 months ago | (#46764771)

I'm so good at that game, the kids can't even FIND my lawn.

Re:Oh yeah? (1)

davewoods (2450314) | about 9 months ago | (#46767247)

Is it wearing a gillie suit? That is just unfair.

Re:Oh yeah? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#46776441)

That's why dogs shit on your car

I was a professional StarCraft player. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764207)

I played Brood War semi-professionally when I was younger and had a go at StarCraft II as well. Although I was a competent player consistently in the top 20 on the EU and US ladders with some minor secondary accomplishments, I never felt like I could adapt or react quickly enough to really be a force. Building on my experiences playing Brood War at the highest level in my teens, I had an advantage going into StarCraft II in my late twenties. I was quickly overtaken (within a year of the game being released) by many people over a decade younger. Some of them having little RTS experience. My ancient, petrified brain simply couldn't compete with their brain elasticity.

That being said, there are some StarCraft II players that do (or did, I haven't kept up with the scene in a long time) well despite their age. WhiteRa and NesTea come to mind.

No shit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764215)

There's a reason I barely play online multiplayer games (either strategy or FPS) anymore. I can't keep up with the kids who have the time to sink into becoming basically perfect while morons like us with jobs and families are brutally taken to task. All I want to do is casually play for an hour or so like I used to, but it seems there's no room for online multiplayer anymore unless you're really skilled and practice a shitload every day. I've gone beyond wanting to invest that level of passion into a computer game so apparently there's no games suitable for me anymore.

Re:No shit (2)

nemasu (1766860) | about 9 months ago | (#46764449)

I look forward to the time when the now-just-working generation retires. Gonna be an explosion of 65+ pro gamers! It's going to be awesome! xD

I can believe this (1, Insightful)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | about 9 months ago | (#46764233)

I mean isn't there a saying in the physics world "if you haven't made a big discovery by the age of 30 you never will." I think there's been a lot of research that basically says people peak in their mid to late 20's on most things.

Re:I can believe this (1)

austerestyle (3396553) | about 9 months ago | (#46764685)

James Clerk Maxwell calculated the speed of light at age 31. :P

Re:I can believe this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765581)

Schroedinger had his "breakout moment" at age 39....

Re:I can believe this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765833)

It is a common idea, and if you test for it, you typically create a sampling bias. However, it is easy to find the example that contradicts the truth of that statement, Plank's best work was done when he was 42.

Basically, people lived a lot shorted in the past, so if you didn't discover something by 20, you were dead at 30.

Now that we have life expediencies into the 80's, many important discoveries are being made well past 20. The reason is two fold:

  1. Science has made nature a bit more known, so it takes time to travel off the path of the well known to the borders of poorly understood.
  2. Old discoveries are being promoted as turning points in science, and with advertisement of older discoveries, you run into the shorter life spans.

Also the design of careers has a large impact. Most people do not work in an environment where they can benefit from discovery once they realize there is more money to be made from refining and adapting knowledge to solving problems. Basically, if you are in the business of discovering things, without a track record of a prior smash hit, nobody's going to continue to invest in you after 20 years of non-productivity.

And that's not even considering the many other items which haven't held constant over the years.

Re:I can believe this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46768055)

There are factors that limit your ability to make that big discovery after age 30 that have nothing to do with physically aging. I'd just like to point out that it may have more to do with being saddled with a professional career and a family that lends less time to experimenting. Physically aging may or may not make it more difficult but I'd hate to believe that it is an absolute, that you "never will", simply because you aren't in your 20's anymore.

here's the data (5, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#46764239)

They calculated the mean time between switching to a new screen and then clicking on something on that screen.

Here is the data they collected [plosone.org] . Look at it and see if you can figure out where it peaks. What are the things that strike you most about that data? The primary correlation is between skill-level and mean time, if age matters at all it is a far weaker variable.

Looking at the actual data, I would say they've found the age when people stop playing Starcraft; it's a fairly sharp drop-off. And the change in mean-switching-time is not a real effect, merely an artifact of the suddenly smaller data they have around that age. This paper is probably relevant (suggesting scientists often need to improve their statistics) [nature.com] .

Furthermore, if you read the actual paper, you have this quote: "A second analysis of dual-task performance finds no evidence of a corresponding age-related decline." So I'm going to say there's not a story here.

Re:here's the data (1)

umghhh (965931) | about 9 months ago | (#46764953)

I think there is a lot to say about statistics and the understanding of that - I was shocked the first time I calculated myself the probabilities of false positive for of prostate cancer checks, Ever since I started to look at the data and question the truth in it.

There are few books that the soft scientists could do to improve but they are apparently too old to be bothered....

Re:here's the data (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#46768789)

'Publish or perish' is a very real thing. Sometimes scientists know their results aren't amazing, but are desperate to publish something because they've just spent a year's worth of grant money on it.

Re:here's the data (1)

SomeoneFromBelgium (3420851) | about 9 months ago | (#46765275)

Right! And just to prove your point (and purely out of my love "ah sweet luve" for science) I'm going to lock myself up with SCII until I'm at the "master" level.
Damn the wife and kids!

See you there (or at my funeral)!

Re:here's the data (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | about 9 months ago | (#46767197)

The problem with SC2 is that it is actually a sport: if you don't practice regularly, your performance drops a lot. You can have a great strategy, but if you get supply blocked in the first 5 minutes because of an execution flaw or you neglect your base when you're attacking the opponent mid-game, the strategy may not matter. I play the game from time to time, but in bursts of a few weeks of playing several times a week followed by months of not playing at all.

Another factor that makes the game less attractive to players over 30 is that it is quite intense: you need to keep focused throughout the entire match. It is probably not the most attractive choice of game after you come back home from a day at the office. It is also not something you can play just before going to bed.

Re:here's the data (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#46768821)

it is quite intense: you need to keep focused throughout the entire match.

Wow, that is something I see as a benefit. I love the intense focus it takes. Of course it's harder to do for people with kids.

Although if you're Taeja, you can sign autographs during a match and still win [youtube.com] .

There is already a movie about this. (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 9 months ago | (#46764279)

It's called "Logan's Run"

In Korea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764303)

Only old people lose at Starcraft.

Re:In Korea (1)

kenwd0elq (985465) | about 9 months ago | (#46764407)

That would be me. Yup.

Ability to give a shit about video games peaked (3, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | about 9 months ago | (#46764323)

I love gaming and gamers. Platform, console, CPU, mobile app, web based, javascript, retro, LCD one-color sports games...all of it...played it, usually loved it. I even love ridiculous vaporware like Duke Nuke 'em 3D or w/e it was...b/c LOL...right?

I just stopped gaming after I finished college.

I think this study needs to take into account that high-level gaming can taper dramatically due to age/interest.

I'd like to see people who have a financial stake at being good at games over 5+ years compared.

I have mini-renaissances...I taught my dad how to play the Tiger Woods golf on xbox & he became better at it than me, with a whole bunch of online friends...I still pwn at Mario Kart no matter what anytime anywhere and can pretty much hang with Tetris grand masters on the game boy version...

see...i used to be a gamer...but now I just don't really give a shit...

Re:Ability to give a shit about video games peaked (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 9 months ago | (#46764425)

I'd like to see people who have a financial stake at being good at games over 5+ years compared.

Even then it's hard. For example, one pro-gamer [teamliquid.net] hasn't been winning as much as his prime, but he's said he hasn't been practicing as hard (his teammate just won the championship in Korea, and he definitely practiced hard).

Of course, we can't necessarily trust his self-assessment, but it shows that even people who have a financial interest can get burned out and lose interest in the game.

Superior pilots (3, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about 9 months ago | (#46764331)

I'm minded though of a saying: "The superior pilot uses his superior piloting judgement to avoid needing to demonstrate his superior piloting skill.". The study tends to bear that out too, as they comment that the decline disappears when you look only at the end results (the score). And in the end, if you're better at juggling dozens of things at once and react faster than your opponent and consistently lose to him, you're consistently losing to him.

Re:Superior pilots (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | about 9 months ago | (#46765069)

Jumping genres for a moment...

A decade ago, in my early/mid 20s (while I was a post-grad student), I was a fairly high level Counter-Strike player. Not one of the greats, but certainly good enough to pull my weight in a team which managed to take home the occasional bit of prize money in tournaments. However, three things happened which meant that I moved on from that phase.

First, I finished studying and got a job. While the hours I was working were probably only slightly longer than the hours I'd been studying (postgrad can be harsh), I now had much less flexibility over which specific hours I worked. I also had a commute that ate up another couple of hours every day.

Second, I started to really dislike the online gaming scene. I got tired of the foul-mouthed kiddies on the public servers and the up-their-own-backside sponsor-obsessed "pro" players. As well as being a player, I was also a league admin and organiser, so I spent a lot of time dealing with this and the bigger "pro" gaming got, the more toxic the high end community got.

But most importantly for the subject at hand, I realised that I'd hit a plateau in terms of how well I was able to play the game. My aim and reactions were probably good enough to allow me to progress further. Not to the very top tiers, but certainly to a higher level than I was playing at. But my judgement and temperament weren't suited for it and resulted in a lot of mistakes of the kind that you can't afford at that level of play. So while I never went cold turkey, over the 6 months after starting a new job, I basically scaled down from being a hardcore competitive player to being an occasional dabbler in public servers. And then over the next few years, I basically gave up on competitive multiplayer entirely (continuing to play a lot of singleplayer and co-op games).

And then, last summer, for a brief window, I got into the Counter-Strike re-release.

Somewhat to my surprise, I was still very good at the game. However, when I recorded some replays and then went back and watched them, it was clear that in my mid-30s, I was good at it in a very different way to how I'd been a decade earlier. My aim was still ok, but my reactions were lethargic compared to how they'd been in the past. I had, however, gotten a lot more patient and a lot sneakier. The kiddies hopping around the levels at full speed could not doubt have picked me apart in a face to face fight, but I was making sure they never got the chance.

So yeah... I suspect that as one set of skills fades with age, some players will develop other traits and skills that offset that. A decline in clicks-per-minute with no corresponding decline in match results in Starctaft 2 would seem to fit that pattern.

Re:Superior pilots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765335)

... I was making sure they never got the chance.

Age and treachery will defeat youth and enthusiasm.

hehe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765713)

My aim was still ok, but my reactions were lethargic compared to how they'd been in the past. I had, however, gotten a lot more patient and a lot sneakier. The kiddies hopping around the levels at full speed could not doubt have picked me apart in a face to face fight, but I was making sure they never got the chance.

It's a combination of wisdom and 'taking the long view' along with mature pragmatism. I lament that my brain is slower than it used to be, but on the other hand, my management skills with respect to what abilities I do have are through the roof. I'm finding that both in gaming and in real life, the ability to clear out the mental clutter, cut to the heart of a problem (e.g. reducing ambiguity as well as eliminating red herrings) is an equalizer of sorts. And yes, that sneaky double back after you followed me around the corner counts.

The millennials and younger are also having a hard time in a different way; just Google up an article on their inability to deep read. I'm not blaming them; it's just that with the prevalence of fast-paced technology, constantly switching sound bites and other stimulus, it's distracting.

A man has got to know his limitations. - Dirty Harry Callahan

A young bull and an old bull were atop a hill looking down at a field of cows. The young bull says "we should run down there and fuck one of those cows!".
The old bull looks at him and says "I think we should walk down there and fuck all of them."

Re:Superior pilots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46767823)

I agree with you that playing smarter yields more wins, but I am not convinced that age is causing the slowdown.

I'm 42, no wife, no kids. I've been playing FPS games since Wolf 3D and Ultima Underworld (1992). I started playing CS:GO a few months ago and I am seeing continual improvement in my tactics, my aim, and my reaction time. Most recently, I've been focusing on the P90 which means a lot of close-up "corner fights" - coming around a corner and whoever is fastest and most accurate wins. Sure, I may have a "slow" day, but that's always happened.

For me, the big difference with CS:GO is the ranking system, which give me a measure of how I am doing compared with all other players. That's how I know that I am doing better; my rank keeps going up.

As far as I have seen, the biggest factor in maintaining or improving reaction time is dedication: how much you play. Sure, there are people who are just plain faster. Sure, I have seen my reactions slow when I haven't been playing much. But I still haven't seen a permanent decrease in my reaction time.

(captcha: sprints)

Re:Superior pilots (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 9 months ago | (#46770667)

Check your monitor, mouse and keyboard latency. A decade earlier you might have been using a CRT with lower latency than a slow LCD monitor.

In my experience add them all up and it can make the difference between having a < 200ms response time and a > 250ms response time.

Try digging out an old CRT if you have one and see if it makes a difference in your reaction times on those reaction time websites.

Alternate Hypothesis (1)

Udigs (1072138) | about 9 months ago | (#46764391)

Orrrrrrrrrr, perhaps the investment needed to maintain gaming skills is no longer maintained due to, you know, growing up and having many more responsibilities?

No Wonder I Stink At SC2... (1)

kenwd0elq (985465) | about 9 months ago | (#46764403)

I love Starcraft; both the original, and StarCraft II. I'm not all that GOOD at it, and now we know why; I'm on the high side of 60. I can still beat the computer, most of the time; I just can't beat the other players! :-)

Re:No Wonder I Stink At SC2... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764735)

Forever bronze brother!

Also, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764689)

As you age your interest in fast paced games wanes because of the annoying kids you get to play them with.
Best multiplayer game I ever played was Laser Squad Nemesis... which was turn based. I started playing it at 26 and after 3 years of multiplayer turn based tactics all these real time things where actions per minute is king seem... childish.

special tactics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46764935)

whitera still going strong

Re:special tactics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765455)

Did you watch WCS last weekend? He's going strong in the sense that he's long retired from professional play and has taken over the role of bartender.

Althetes or Coaches (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 9 months ago | (#46765081)

Starcraft may be popular for strategy game players, but give me a FPS any day. I cut my teeth on Doom, Quake, Unreal, etc. In my opinion, if you want to measure reflexes, spacial awareness, and situational awareness, these are the games to study and would be closer to sports situations where muscle memory and learned strategy kicks in. Starcraft would be closer to what coaches have to do (i.e. football, making play decisions, etc.) than the athletes.

In any case, no matter what game I play, I do play differently than I used to. Much of this has to do with the compressed time I have available. For example, in FPS games I'm a bit more circumspect as I move through levels because I just don't have the time to start over from scratch multiple times. I used to re-play a game several times just to beat my last score or find the last 3 hidden treasure areas. This made me a much better online player as I would know each level completely by heart. Now, I'm lucky if I remember where I picked up that last weapon...

Re:Althetes or Coaches (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46768063)

Pro level StarCraft uses just as much reflexes, spacial awareness, and situational awareness as FPS games take. Perhaps more. Jump onto YouTube or Twitch and watch some of those guys play. Not the commentated ones, but where they are streaming what they see. They hotkey all over the place and are simultaneously implementing an overall strategy and economy (Macro) as well as field commanding an army even down to specific unit actions (Micro). There is more action there than in any FPS I have seen to date.

Like my one friend said, "If you are not busy doing something you are busy losing."

This is why I hate psychology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765111)

In psychology, they never properly isolate variables. They take or use bad data sets, then if a bias isn't already apparent in the data, they apply their own in the process of analyzing it.

Breaking news: Useless study is useless.

Smell the roses (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about 9 months ago | (#46765137)

I've never enjoyed competitive gaming much, except some rounds at a multiplayer FPS every now and then.

When I play a RTS like StarCraft I like to calmly build up my bases and defenses, create an army, secure chokepoints... take my time and enjoy the game. The twitchy online experience is not for me. I'm playing to have fun and relax, not to experience stress.

I suppose this is why I mostly enjoy single player RPG's in which I can enjoy the game at my own pace.

Lindberg (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 9 months ago | (#46765421)

Lindberg flew 50 combat missions at age 42 in the pacific-- in both the corsair and the lightning.

The preferred age for pilots then was also very young (19-22) due to reaction speed.

But he not only held his own, but his experience allowed him to change the entire war by recognizing how to improve the mileage of the planes by 300 miles. He also shot down a japanese pilot who had managed to run several younger pilots completely out of ammunition because they were able to fire quickly but lacked the judgement when NOT to fire.

Speed matters. But experience and good judgement also matter and they take time to accumulate.

moD 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765459)

serves to reinforce in the sun. In 7he only way to go: the future holds every chance I got 7ike I should be provide sodas,

reaction time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765481)

You have to love people who bring up "reaction time" when talking about driving in the real world. OMG, reaction time!! Except we have these professionals called "actuaries" who spend their days studying this kind of thing. One quick look at the driving insurance rates for, say, 50 year olds vs. 24 year olds and you'll see that reaction time has very little correlation with getting into accidents.

Same thing other video games (1)

Bruinwar (1034968) | about 9 months ago | (#46765793)

In my experience, 24 is the peak & it's downhill from there. However, for the talented, it's a very slow decline. Back in my Quake, then Quake 2 gaming days doing league play & setting up matches, it seemed to me that the 20-22 year old players ruled. I was 38 at the time. I could compete with them until we got into the top 10 teams. Then I just set up the matches & coached haha. Quake 3 was the end of it for me really, but then I got sucked into MMOs by my wife & lost what little skills I had left.

Comment on this story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46765831)

A bit of bollocks,

I am a little above 24, and what you think some newbs and peeps can outmicro me? Starcraft 2 is not the best game for it, try war3 and micro there, there is a lot more things to micro. And I have played such from 16-17 years to like 25, so if you tell me that now someone will be better cause he is 16 - I just LAWL at that!

It is all about the PRACTICE! And games like war3 that you have played, do you think I cannot have the same reflexes as 5 years ago??? if you compare an old daddy and a 16 year old or 16 year old and 40+ year old ok, rest is nonsense, Get real pls

I hate SC2 (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 9 months ago | (#46766595)

I used to be one of the best players, by sheer coincidence when I was exactly 23, but now I can't stand the game. Here's my summary of SC2. You're super intelligent and have the best strategy. The only thing getting in the way of you doing it is how quickly you can click the mouse and scroll and issue keyboard combinations. That's SO ANNOYING! The game might as well just be called "click the button" and see who can click the button faster. I prefer Realtime Strategy games that focus on strategy in realtime but not that ridiculously realtime. Otherwise it feels like stressful work. Oh and everyone you play against is an arrogant asshole, in case you were wondering what the player culture is like.

Re:I hate SC2 (1)

Cowclops (630818) | about 9 months ago | (#46769481)

And this is why I like Supreme Commander better than Starcraft. Since you can queue every action, you don't need to babysit to make sure your factories didn't forget to keep pumping units out. Thus freeing you up to actually manage your units.

StarCraft II? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46767779)

Kids these days! When *I* was 24 we didn't have StarCraft II. We played the original StarCraft and we LIKED IT!

55q (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46768547)

Typing 55q selects my base, switches to that screen, then trains a unit. So the look then act time is few ms only. I hope they factored that out

Since it didn't come out until I was 34..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46769083)

I suppose it's perfectly fine that I never bothered playing it.

24? I thought much earlier (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46770501)

I have been following the Starcraft scene for a while, and I had the impression that the peak was much earlier, around age 17.

Doable (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about 9 months ago | (#46773773)

If you are 25, earn a decent wage (+60k $ a year) and are able to save 20% of your income, which you invest in stocks that pay dividends of 3% on average, which you reinvest, and assuming that you get a moderate wage increases of 3% a year, being a millionaire at 65 is doable.

At least that's what my financial planning Excel sheet says.

Re:Doable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46773987)

wrong article

I'm peaking right now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46774891)


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