Is Your Brain Too Old For Video Games?


Today, 63% of U.S. households are home to someone who plays video games regularly. In the broadest sense most of us are “gamers” and “Let’s play” has become a national motto But since the early days of pinball machines and classic arcades, one thing has been crystal clear Some people are way better at this than others Nowhere is that more apparent that at a competitive gaming tournament Hundreds of players from around the world compete for prizes up to 50,000 dollars Watching the furious fingers of the world’s top players, flying playing combos and kills, the obvious question is “What makes them so good?” What makes the experts better than the rest of us? The obvious answer is practice, but looking around a tournament like this, one can’t help but notice these players are young The average American gamer is 35 years old and nearly half of all gamers are older than 36 But not here. Many of these elite players are barely out of high school You’d think older players could be more experienced, be better But that doesn’t seem to be the case here at the highest level. Are older gamers at some disadvantage? Are their brains already over the hill? To solve mysteries about how we think and learn Scientists have turned to games themselves And the most famous is one of the oldest For decades chess has been used to study complex thinking and the science of expertise. For instance, when shown snapshots of chess games Expert chess players can recall the position of nearly every piece, where average players cannot but when shown snapshots of pieces arranged randomly Expert players did no better than novices. This tells us that part of being an expert is extracting and processing information faster than the average person but maybe only in the context of that particular skill Real life, however, demands way more from our brains than what chess can teach us We don’t spend minutes pondering the strategic consequences of taking a left or right to avoid an oncoming train And we don’t plan our route to work in strange L shapes. But for a more real world look at how our brains perform scientists are turning to a different game Starcraft 2 in Starcraft 2, two players battle head-to-head for domination of a territory Winning means your army totally defeating the other. Just like real life, there’s no turns You simply do as many things as you can but a few things make Starcraft especially challenging I always like to compare Starcraft 2 to playing several games of chess, but in real-time So it is a game which requires Extreme physical dexterity But in terms of mental acuity you need to be able to make decisions in real-time at an incredibly fast place while working with incomplete information First most important thing to even get beyond average in Starcraft 2 is your ability to do what’s called “macro” Which is the management of your economy in the most efficient way possible But while doing so, simultaneously perform extremely rapid and intricate micro-actions somewhere else on the screen so the ability to do both those without compromising the other, that’s the mark of a true pro player With so much happening in different places on Micro and Macro levels Starcraft 2 is a recipe for cognitive overload Granted, Protoss, Terrans and Zerg warring over vespene gas and space minerals isn’t exactly “realistic” But playing Starcraft 2 is a useful real-world experiment. Multiple simultaneous goals, constantly Redirecting attention, real-time combat: these are test cases for many of our higher brain functions Since every mouse click and keyboard stroke in a Starcraft 2 game is saved in a log file Scientists can reconstruct every moment in a match and after analyzing thousands of games from every skill level scientists found Unsurprisingly, players who perform the most actions are more likely to win. Elite Starcraft players can regularly hit 300 actions per minute Even up to 600 in intense battle. That’s an unbelievable 10 actions per second, each with purpose. But let’s get to the most important question: Are younger players always better? -Some people think it’s a physical thing But I really don’t think so. There’s World-Renowned pianist who have been doing things with their hands like a Starcraft 2 player up into their 50s and 60s It’s not that we get mentally slower as we get older I think it’s probably the opposite, but what I do think that happens as you get older is you have more things on your mind Taxes, your wife, your husband, whatever uhh, It’s not that you’re mentally or physically incapable of performing as high as a level as you were as a younger person I think you are not able to put all of your thoughts in one direction, focus on the game. [Host] We all want that to be true, but what does the science say? Canadian researchers looked at how long it took players to act after moving to a new map view that lag was lowest at age 24 and slowed as players got older. A 39-year-old Bronze player may be equal to their 24-year-old opponent in all other aspects, but if the older player is just 150 milliseconds slower at acting after every map movement, that can cost thirty seconds over the course of a 15 minute match More than enough to make the difference at Elite levels. According to research on Starcraft It seems that after age 24 our brains are on the decline, at least when it comes to the thinking and moving part But if you’re older than 24, like me, don’t lose hope. When researchers looked at how players multi task, switching between Economic and military aspects of the game, they didn’t see that age-related decline Older players can use strategy and change the way they play the game to make up for some of the other losses -There are people that have made very successful careers for themselves focusing on the speed of the game Maybe they don’t always make the most amazing decisions Maybe they are predictable in their strategy, but they’re so darn fast that they will just drown you in actions Then there’s other people that are so smart, so intuitive they know exactly what you’re gonna Do before you even know what you’re going to do But in Starcraft you can be fast or smart or both And I think that’s amazing. So play while you can because whether you’re an average or elite player Time is of the essence. GG. Stay curious. Physics might show us the universe’s basic building blocks and biology lets the universe understand itself But chemistry is where all the fun happens in between. We have thousands of chemical reactions going on inside us every second But it’s the ones we’ve mastered with our hands in labs and workshops and factories and even kitchens that have made humans what we are today. A few chemical technologies have made such an explosive change in how we live that they’ve altered the very trajectory of humanity

100 comments

  1. We are not "gamers", we are free people caught in a rat cage and "gaming" is for our generation what cheese is for mice.

  2. I think youtube is the reason why i dont play video games like i us to any more cause youtube has made my life easy to watch then to play and also games do seam like there not getting better to me

  3. sitting here enjoying 'iys okay to be smart" was not ready for that clap in the feels when TotalBiscuit popped up, Rest in Peace you cynical angel.

  4. Welp explain why Super street fighter turbo players are all 30 and over and could react like crazy. That game is a faster than any game we have out today.

  5. Devs have just started pandering to the lowest common denomination of the game community. Just cash grabs and and BS that would only appeal to younger demographics – the Co op casuals. I think the question should be, are the games old enough for us?

  6. People in their 30's generally are married and with kids and commitments. Less time to play means they aren't as sharp as they can or used to be. Guys still in school/college have less burdens can dedicate more time to build and reinforce those cognitive networks in the brain.

  7. How does the ability to adapt to a new control scheme play into this? Given time, I can figure out the control schemes for most platformers, but heaven forbid I try to figure out an FPS. Maybe it's just that FPS games, especially online ones, tend to be more punishing to players who don't quickly grasp the controls, so I rage quit before I give myself enough time to figure it out. Or it could just be that I'm more used to platformers. Is it all a matter of what you play when you're young, or is it possible to become equally good in games with different control schemes with enough practice?

  8. If the average gamer is 35 years old and is the average American is 35 years old then that means the average American plays video games

  9. I mainly just like games for their aesthetic quality. The only game I can play these days is LOL, just because it's like completing a full game in less than an hour. You win the game or you lose the game.
    I like real life games too. But in general I can't get into single player games AT ALL. So boring because I've just done it all before and would rather progress the story of my real life.

  10. I prefer playing with my smartphone over gaming. Youtube, checking stocks and finance websites, it's taken away alot of my desire to game.

  11. Actually, (and yes I KNOW this video is old, but I hope you can still answer it,) is WHY? WHY do so many grown adults play video games? What is the point? Is it something I am not getting? Have I lost my ability to fantasize anymore? That's the reason I don't watch films. When it get to a part where a lot of people may shout at the screen, "Don't go in there it's a trap!," I would say, "Course they know it's a trap, they have read the script too. Don't be so stupid!" and get kicked out. I cannot take anything that fantasy and put it in reality. I hate fantasy. It's for children in my mind. Not so-called intelligent adults. But, can I turn around at 49? Can I get my inner child back? Funny, after watching this entire video mad me wonder even more why adults play these silly games?

  12. Me and my brother who are best friends hate the games that each other play he plays fortnight which I think is terrible because it is he hates Minecraft which is a good game. Ew. People would assume that I am them teenager and he’s the kid but now we’re both kids…. I even stopped watching my favorite YouTuber because she played fortnight. It’s that gross eek 😬.🔫👎🏻💎🔨👍🏿

  13. Hyper vigilance does make it easier to spam the keyboard. Maybe it's just as people become adults and actually have money. They are more secure and less hyper vigilant. But without that, you would suck if a war ever broke out and should just accept the fact you're basically Jerry from Rick and Morty now. Ya lost "it" mr or mrs laser disc vhs old school.

  14. Older generation have an abundance of games. Young people can specify games that are new and modern. Hence why they're so damn good.

  15. I'm 23. Still kinda young but i sucked at games. Fps are the worse but I'm no better in strategy too. Maybe some people just destined to be sucks at gaming. I always have 100% focus on the game but i still sucks. Nowadays it's better, i could be an ace sometimes but in the past i rarely win.

  16. most of younger kids are on adhd meds that pump up the brain after i got off my meds my game performance went down dramatically

  17. I've noticed since I got into my 30s that video games don't come as easy to me anymore. I don''t know if it's because games are more complicated now than when I was a kid, but I just don't seem to learn to play them as fast or easily as I used to be, even in my 20s. I just got a switch a few weeks ago with Breath of the Wild, and it took me 2 or 3 weeks to master the controls well enough that I wasn't accidentally pressing the wrong button when I meant to do something else. Although I've noticed controls for a lot of games on the Switch are just awful. I'm not a fan of the Joy Cons at all. They're so tiny, and they don't have a real D pad.

  18. So, I'm 31 and I can honestly agree with the guest talking about other things on your mind. When I was in my teens, I could game all day and night without a care in the world. Now, I have to adult, Work, Relationship, Taking Care Of My Body, Bills, Bills, Bills. Real life just simply takes up too much time, and when I do find time to game I'm wondering if I remembered to pre-set my coffee maker and pack my gym bag the night before.

  19. This is absolutely inacurate because you are presenting the topic as an example through a certain gaming genre. It is most certainly true due to the huge amount of ms dexterity you would have to perform in a short period of time in a moba or a strategy game… gee wonder why those genres are the "kid games" yet you are neglecting the other kind of brain functions responsible for other genres of gaming. I am 28 myself and when i am in a calm, concentrated state, i notice a clean improvement to my 20 yo self in gaming (granted i don't play any other online games but mmos) in reaction time, managing my resources and aiming way better. I could challenge any player to beat my speedrun record on oldschool fps games that required actual moment to moment decision making like Halo CE, or survival horror speedruns that require a lot of precision to done well. Also the w1st speedrunners for oldschool games and who understand and play them better are not the early 20s, they (generally) suck at anything but one or two game they dedicate their time into and develop their skills into the rhythm of the genre and the product. Give a typical early 20 a game like jedi knight 2 outcast on master or far cry realistic to complete it and i guarantee he / she won't be able to, yet a lot of oldschool players can blaze through them. The market is appointed to a completely new audience that is only interested to be dedicated in 3 games IF that and they are strictly multiplayer focused titles.

  20. Here's my theory:

    Us who are between 25-40, went true all the hard games and developed trueout the years, and we had to do all the work, for example (world of warcraft) we have people who do tutorials and complete everything, now these young people come into the picture…they dont have to spend their time trying to figure out how to defeat bosses or complete the end game quest, because they been seeing all of the work we did before them therefor they learn faster.

  21. 34 almost 35 I smash kids online all the time 🤣🤣 gaming for life … remember back in the day before youtube u had to buy a game guide or figure it out yourself or ask a buddy.

  22. Carpal Tunnel is not to be underestimated. I have been a gamer since the 1970's. In the late 1990's I gave up on consoles and switch to PC gaming due to mouse, keyboard, and left, right joystick. This was due to my hands and wrists. I first noticed it on 3DO Road Rash. Awesome game. But now I am told I can't put off surgery anymore, and after this I will be playing Resident Evil 2 Biohazard. But not on the hardest setting. My hands can't respond fast enough. If I tried, the pain would prohibit any playing at all. I am 61.

  23. I thought I was never going to enjoy video games during at one point earlier this year. but then I tried out Yakuza 0 and I finally started gaining enjoyment from it

  24. i don't like playing online shooter games, like the ones on roblox, because my mind tells me not to. Just because i slightly fear people making fun of me while/before playing due to inexperience.

  25. I'm twelve and i play games that have to do with having fast reactions like call of duty 3 and like stuff like that I think idk

  26. While our brain doesn't get "too old" for videogames, its reaction time is not the same. I was a better gamer at 12 than I'm now, more than 20 years later.

  27. Also could be the fact that gaming the past two decades has a larger player-base, growing mainly in the youth category, than a few decades ago (obviously better young players come out of that); the fact that new gamers aren't adults but young people; young people have more free time due to their parents supporting their lifestyle of playing games after school; adults have less time for games because they're too busy handling real responsibilities.

  28. I hate the fact I'm getting bored of video games
    I've grown up and am ready to take responsibilities but there isn't too much joy in my life
    Irl social interactions are supposed to fix that

  29. Older players, like myself, have lives, jobs, relationships, and bills to pay. When I was a kid, all I did was play video games; now, I play the game of Life…and I think I'm losing.

  30. Yeah I haven't played video games in well over a decade. I attempted to play the fortnite game on my nephews portable console and I was bored almost instantly by it and couldn't understand why it was such a phenomenal success.

    I'd rather read a good book or watch a good movie.

  31. Here's a tip for you, don't play hardcore multiplayer game that are meant for grinding, but focus on story driven games!

  32. It is extremely clear to me, at 48, that my capacity to be very very focused and fast is less than when I was around 19-20. My level of energy and fatigue also… which affects how "into it" I can be. On the other hand, I will generally have better tactics and actually do less mistakes, albeit more slowly. I am undoubtedly more knowledgeable than when I was in my twenties and I have more experience at gaming.
    // I am not downplaying how younger players can be incredibly focused, really into it, and multi-task more.

  33. Hahaha – no. Only kids supported by their parents can sit around focusing on a video game in order to get good. Adults have to life!!

  34. Not all video games do you have to be that fast you can also play chess, checkers, various spelling games, quiz games, various card games, Various domino games, puzzle games including assembling picture puzzles.

  35. Martina Hingis became a top tennis Player in her teens to early twenties while William Sisters were a little older and still contenders in their early thirties.

  36. a little bit of it might be older gamers were told that they needed to get real jobs etc so there are fewer who could dedicate the time to becoming pro-gamers. Like it wasn't even something one could aspire to when I was a kid.

  37. This is an interesting video. Though it really only covers one game of a single genre. If it covered a bigger variety of games, it would've been more accurate.

  38. That's because it's meant for developing brains of kids and adolescents, once you're an adult your brain doesn't need the stimuli anymore because you're full grown.

  39. I used to love video games when I was 12, 13 or 16 years old. but I'm 25 now and I just can't enjoy videogames anymore…I don't feel a conection with them as a media, as a hobby or anything like that and that's weird because videogames are super advenced right now with better storytelling, better graphics and whole new multiplayer levels…but man…they're so boring, even the old ones get boring I wonder why.

  40. I find the older I get (36) the less interested I am into gaming. And with age I’m getting more into movies and tv shows.

  41. The assumption that older players being less capable may have some truths, but I think there are a number of glaring problems with the speculation. Rather than brain function, there's also the amount of time available to a high-schooler or unemployed 20 something versus an adult who has to worry about keep those little sh*ts fed, and drove all around. I myself have no children, and much free time. I have been playing since the Atari, so I have some age on my brain. Finishing MVP consistently in consecutive combat games is common for me, I'm certain my reflexes have never been faster. If you know anything about science, one study amounts to approximately zero studies. Give another decade or two with a few hundred studies, and then you can make a little more scientific speculations. Isolate a group of 19 year-olds into the same life habits as an older person, less daily practice, less time for muscle memory, and you'll probably have very similar results.

  42. I am 70 and my brain is NOT too old for video games. On my xBox 360, lately I have been downloading Kinect games. In the 80's I made a small contribution to video games. While employed in the U. of Calgary, Psychology Department, I developed a hardware/software solution for a grad student who studied the performance of Air Traffic controllers using my 'solution'.

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