An approach for studying how individuals learn and use particular skill sets is to examine those who vary in expertise within a specific field. Previous research has found that individuals with first-person shooter expertise outperform novices on specific types of cognition tasks. Given the rapid growth in popularity of multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games (e.g., Dota 2, League of Legends) we investigated whether similar connections would be observed with this gamer population. In doing so we addressed: (i) whether a sample of experienced gamers and valid cognitive task data could be collected at a MOBA tournament, (ii) whether individual differences in cognitive skills are connected to MOBA expertise, (iii) how MOBA expertise effects line up with previous research. Our results suggest that gaming tournaments should be considered for gathering a large sample of experienced gamers and that specific cognitive skills are connected to MOBA expertise. We conclude that MOBAs offer a unique perspective for examining how experience with an online game genre that has complex gameplay and social interactions is connected to psychological processes.
Justin Bonny is a research psychologist at foundry10 and is responsible for examining how student learning occurs through informal and non-traditional experiences. Previously Dr. Bonny has investigated cognitive underpinnings of STEM skills in children and adults. He earned his Ph.D. from Emory University and has worked as a community college professor and scientist for the Navy. To find out more about research at foundry10 visit http://www.foundry10.org.