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Real Time Strategy (Games) Games Science

How a Computer Game Is Reinventing the Science of Expertise 60

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-many-volunteers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Cognitive scientists at Simon Fraser University and UCSD are beginning to use StarCraft 2 replays to study the development of expertise and the cognitive mechanisms of multitasking. Unlike similar expertise studies in chess that consider roughly a dozen players, these studies include thousands of players of all skill levels — providing an unprecedented amount of data on how players move from 'chumps to champions.'"
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How a Computer Game Is Reinventing the Science of Expertise

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 02, 2011 @05:15PM (#38244384)

    Ninety percent of the players in this tournament are not superhuman multitaskers. After watching enough of their first-person video streams, you see that most players can't react to novel situations. They just learn "build an army before the X minute mark", or "counterattack with fast ground units when his army moves out," executing the same limited skill set game after game. What this study will probably show is the rapid development of mechanical skills from low-to-mid level play, followed by the gradual acquisition of timings and strategic instincts.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Friday December 02, 2011 @06:22PM (#38245276)

    As a fellow cognitive scientist let me be the first to explain "why Starcraft 2?" The answer lies in the oft-cited measure of player skill at the game: actions per minute. This is an unprecedented numerical measure of expertise that lends itself well to the study of "expertise" -- a term which means something different in the study of the brain than it does to the everyday person. Expertise is nothing less than a figurative rewiring of your brain in order to better excel at a chosen repetitive task.

    APM is a distorted metric. It does not distinguish between a meaningful action, a redundant action, a nervous "twitch" (i.e. multiple clicks rather than one), etc.

    Furthermore it contains an additional distortion. Since it is a metric that players are evaluated by, and/or used in silly "pissing contests", it can be intentionally distorted. Why click on that point on the ground once when you can click on it five time rapidly? APM focused players often are manically clicking on empty ground issuing no unit orders when they have nothing to do for a second or two, they have rewired their brain to have them do "something" even if there is nothing useful to be done.

    For the programmers reading along, Think of APM as the LOC (Lines of Code) of the Starcraft world. Both metrics can be meaningful in an idealized setting, but such is not the setting of most real world events.

  • by Derkec (463377) on Saturday December 03, 2011 @11:23AM (#38250320)

    How did that work out for him in Russia?

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.