Study: Skill in games like League of Legends correlates to higher intelligence

The study also makes connections between skill and memory and how age affects performance.

Photo via Riot Games

If you’re a high ranked League of Legends player, there’s a good chance your IQ is higher than average, according to a series of studies performed by University of York researchers that links high intelligence to in-game skill.

The study compares games that require active strategy, like League and Dota 2, to traditional strategy games like chess. Skill in chess has long held a direct correlation to intelligence, and this study was designed to test the theory that this correlation could extend to certain video games as well.

“Unlike first person shooter (FPS) games where speed and target accuracy are a priority, Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas rely more on memory and the ability to make strategic decisions taking into account multiple factors,” said Athanasios Kokkinakis, the study’s lead author. “It is perhaps for these reasons that we found a strong correlation between skill and intelligence in MOBAs.”

League was the primary game used in testing, and the research team used stats site to monitor and record test subjects’ match histories and performance. League is “complex, socially-interactive, and intellectually demanding,” according to the study, and performance in-game can be used to measure a person’s intelligence.

The test used to measure the subjects’ intelligence is called the WASI II Matrix Reasoning Subtest, and, according to the research team, there is a direct comparison between high ranks in League and better results on the test. The WASI II Matrix Reasoning Subtest is a widely accepted test for measuring adult IQ.

About 90 percent of all ranked League players are either Gold, Silver, or Bronze, and only the top 10 percent are within the ranks of Platinum, Diamond, Master, and Challenger, according to League of Graphs, another League stats site..

The series’ second study, the one that was designed to measure the impact of age on performance in games like League, found similarities between game skill and intelligence as well. The study showed that players typically reach peak performance in their mid-20s and see a steady decline thereafter, which is the same trajectory that raw IQ scores follow.

If you’re Platinum ranked or higher, congrats, you might be pretty smart. If you’re not, don’t worry, there’s still time to improve. That is, of course, unless you’re already in your mid-20s, in which case it’s all downhill from here.