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Correlations Between Video Games And Academic Achievement?

Cliff posted more than 13 years ago | from the stuff-to-think-about dept.

Games 172

mozzer asks: "I'm doing an independent study course in university, and I'm writing an article on video games and academics - basically seeing if there's a correlation between the two. My prof suggested I take a sample of upper year, business strategy students, and see how well they fair at a strategy game (like Starcraft) and then compare how well they do in the game, to how well they did in the class. The question I'd like to ask is: What game do you think would be good to use? I'm afraid people might already know how to play Starcraft, which will skew the results (considering it has a fairly steep learning curve for new players). Or if there are any other ways we could test this sort of thing?"

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hmmm (3)

nomadic (141991) | more than 13 years ago | (#477840)

Might want to try something with a faster learning curve, and maybe something a little bit more general. Simcity maybe? Tetris would be a great example I think, but you might have problems finding people who've never played it before.

team fortress is still inmature (1)

Sem_D_D (175107) | more than 13 years ago | (#477841)

i'm sure a ot of guy's are familiar w/ the idea of the cunter-strike gameplay and that it does deserve some attention, but still it can't level out with "real" war games and the panache of , let's say, paintball.
still, the team-idea-of-play/strategy is worth the discussing.
{a sigh} abd i ain't that good on stracraft, i hate killing marines! '-)

Negative correlation (2)

Anthony Brundell (309763) | more than 13 years ago | (#477842)

If my second year at university is anything to go by, there will be a strong negative correlation. The longer we all spent on networked computer games, the less time we were working, and the worse grades we got.

Base the game on the course (3)

Crypthanatopsis (177252) | more than 13 years ago | (#477843)

If you're using Business Strategy students, you're going to want a business strategy game. Personally, I'd recommend Koei's Aerobiz or Aerobiz Supersonic, but if you can't get the students interested in something that old (or for the console), Railroad Tycoon or Rollercoaster Tycoon would probably work well. Some students have probably already played Rollercoaster Tycoon, though, and it has a moderately steep learning curve. Aerobiz would be my pick.


Wahhhhasssuuup? (1)

Aunt Mable (301965) | more than 13 years ago | (#477844)

Don't give them anything by Sierra. Knowing that you have to erase the video tape before you can record isn't a measure of intelligence by any means.

Similarly games in which you can learn patterns (remember there's a storm-trooper round the corner) isn't a good measure. Starcraft is a good strategic game, although not random enough if you know where the enemy is. You should definately make a map.

Unreal, or Quake - same thing. Find an obscure map. Avoid beat-em-ups like street fighter or mortal kombat as people can learn those off by heart.

If I were to do it though I would test them with: Head over Heels, Tetris, which ever the game was in which you sectioned off area by drawing boxes to avoid the spinning lines, generic Pinball, and.. hell, Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge 1.

-- Eat your greens or I'll hit you!

Stalin I believe there is a correlation between th (1)

198348726583297634 (14535) | more than 13 years ago | (#477845)

between the linus and academic achievement and starcraft.


won't you jump on my finger like georgewashington



Business Students vs. Strategy Games (1)

DerKlempner (249063) | more than 13 years ago | (#477846)

What would business students playing strategy games prove? Hey, their first company IPO will be a complete bust, but they'll be able to defeat the Orcs in Warcraft? I don't think there's any similarities between the two. Maybe you'd be better off seeing if there's a stronger correlation between video game players and military personnel. I'd sleep much better knowing that all U.S. servicemen (and -women) can finish Quake 2 in under 15 minutes using nothing but a blaster.
On the other hand, you may be able to find games more suited towards those students. Unfortunately, the only viable game I can think of would be Lemonade Stand, but that was only available for my Apple II about 15 years ago...

Re:Negative correlation... but necessary (1)

Sem_D_D (175107) | more than 13 years ago | (#477847)

games, by definition are a chopped-down version of real-life situation and decision-making processes, so in a way, we DO need the game concept, one way or another
wel, that doesn't mean spending 5-6hrs on Q3 dismembering the dean

FreeCiv!!! (5)

krmt (91422) | more than 13 years ago | (#477848)

I highly recommend freeciv [] for this one. It's got all the strategic elements of starcraft (and then some) and it will allow more actual planning rather than quick reflexes as starcraft requires. There are more dimensions to measure too, such as what successful academics spend their time researching, building, or planning in the game(i.e. what they value in the mock civilization could reflect what they value in the real civilizaion.) Plus, as the name says, the game's free :-)

"I may not have morals, but I have standards."

Re:Base the game on the profession (1)

Sem_D_D (175107) | more than 13 years ago | (#477849)

there are ,indeed, a few economic simulators, quite apt for introducing the big corporate world to the freshman and the high school guys:
WallStreet Trader 2000 and Startup! (the latter i'm uncertain for).
the site was:
and it is a bit more on the analytical software edge, so think twice.

Re:Business Students vs. Strategy Games (1)

krmt (91422) | more than 13 years ago | (#477850)

Man... I loved Lemonade stand! It's probably still available too on abandonware. However, that game may be too simple and too close to what they study for it to work. If you're going to go simple, may as well go with something like Tetris as another poster mentioned.

"I may not have morals, but I have standards."

Re:FreeCiv!!! (1)

false_sense_of_sec (266287) | more than 13 years ago | (#477851)

I second this suggestion. Easy to learn, hard to master.

whats the real question here? (2)

MousePotato (124958) | more than 13 years ago | (#477852)

A) do those who do well at the game have good grades?
B) Do those who do well at the game have poor grades?
C) Does doing poorly at the game indiacte a lack of interest in the game versus the course?
D) Do those who do well in class do poorly at the game?
E) Does the game become so addicting that the students stop going to class and justifiy it as 'research time' (gaming time) consequently trashing thier grades altogether?

I am not sure what this guy is really asking. I think mixing games into class is a double edged sword. The games themselves may have pertinent value to the syllabus of the course but it is not hard to get really addicted to one of these games and end up consequently destroying a full schedule of classes.

I don't know for Business Strategy... (1)

CSC (31551) | more than 13 years ago | (#477853)

...but the best CS/EE students definitely correlate with SimCity, Civilization/Alpha Centauri, and the Monkey Island series, at least in my experience.

Strategy to gauge business sense? (4)

Yert (25874) | more than 13 years ago | (#477854)

I'm working on a games review site - Meltdown Gaming [] - (yes, that was a plug), and of the games we've been reviewing, I'd think something more along the lines of Airport Tycoon or maybe Stardock's [] The Corporate Machine [] excellent business sim would be more along the lines to judge dollars and sense.

Or, just put them out on the streets, with a copy of Dope Wars [] . (for Win95, now! whoo!) :)

For even more fun, pit the CS students against the business majors - have one semester's class project be to write a business sim the next semester's class has to successfully complette in order to pass... *evil grin*

Or even better - have them attempt to start thier own successful dotcom...or is that already an accepted practice?


Re:FreeCiv!!! (3)

Quazion (237706) | more than 13 years ago | (#477855)

I think freeciv would be really great for this project, if you start with a bunch of people who have never played before against each other, but then who hasnt played Civ. before ?

Also i think they should make children play this game at schools, they would learn loads about our history in a fun and nice way, also how to trade and make friends or enemie's, its just one good learning tool overall.

What will the results really mean? (4)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 13 years ago | (#477856)

One question is, what does "how well they did in the class" mean? Once you get into college (a preliminary filter) there seem to be at least 3 measures of "success" which are only vaguely correlated, from my experience. At MIT there were fellow students with extremely high SAT scores but poor academic performance because of various motivational issues, as well as the complete opposite. And then there's "how well you do" later in life which seems to have a poor correlation with either. And "how well they did in the class" is such a small datum as to almost be meaningless. So, at a minimum I would ask for SAT scores and GPA, if that can be done in a confidential blind manner of course.

Also, how are you going to get serious students to waste time learning a difficult game (you can't eliminate them without skewing the data)? I'm not familiar with the game but a "fairly steep learning curve" doesn't sound promising, and if they just spend a small amount of time learning the basics, it doesn't necessarily indicate how well they would do as experienced players.

Finally, they may have little interest in the game to begin with, which can seriously impact how well they do, regardless of their inherent ability to do well at it.

Overall, you have a tough job ahead, if you want results that have any real meaning.

Correlation: interest or learning skills? (1)

maya (90492) | more than 13 years ago | (#477857)

I think that any correlation you find between academic achievement and the ability to learn video game skills would be pretty uninteresting (unless the correlation is very low, which would be surprising and suspect).

A more interesting correlation, I think, would be between a student's current and past involvement with video games and his or her academic rank. You could get at that via a survey:

  • What games do you play? How often do you play them?
  • How long have you been playing?
  • Is there an objective measure of success in those games; if so, what is your level of play?
  • How would you rank your skill as a player at each of games you play?

And so forth. Then you could draw some interesting and potentially helpful correlations between the profiles of students as game-players and their profiles as academic achievers.

Against that background, a measure of their ability to learn game-playing skills at a game they've never played before could, in fact, become interesting.


Ever-Smack all the way. (1)

rigor6969 (240549) | more than 13 years ago | (#477858)

You want to prove your point fast? Make them play ever-quest. They will. 1. Spend all their time online. 2. Fail. 3. Drop out and start selling EQ items on ebay, and end up making themselves a career worth more than their business degree ever will get them :) bleh. Will make you a great thesis huh? ==sam== free nessus scan -

hey (3)

nomadic (141991) | more than 13 years ago | (#477859)

Forgot, The Incredible Machine might be a decent test of intellectual abilities. Plus it's not as well-known as Tetris so you might have a large pool of people who've never played it.

Of course, for pure problem-solving, there's always Infocom...

My advice (3)

Chiasmus_ (171285) | more than 13 years ago | (#477860)

No, no, have them play Starcraft. Have them play it every day for two straight days, with only a four-hour break for sleep. Then, on the day of their final, have them play Starcraft instead of showing up.

That's what I did, and it had a *very* definite corellative effect on my grades.

Re:Wahhhhasssuuup? (1)

Dyrandia (253125) | more than 13 years ago | (#477861)

Iirc, and I think I do, the game where you section off an area by drawing boxes and avoiding the spinning lines is called Qix and was available for the original black and white gameboy in the late 1980s. The original poster wasn't particularly specific as to whether or not he wanted a fairly steep learning curve or not. Qix is easy to learn, but requires a good bit of dexterity and planning. A good choice! ~Dyrandia

Re:Business Students vs. Strategy Games (2)

Dyrandia (253125) | more than 13 years ago | (#477862)

Aren't most professional business people strategists when it comes right down to it? Should I buy this stock or sell this one? How should I promote this product? Will it appeal to my target consumer group? Oh, and isn't day to day business a bit like a war simulation? Take out your opponents before they can take you out >;) Imho, any strategy game will do as long as it requires some foresight. ~Dyrandia

Video games and scholastics (3)

Chiasmus_ (171285) | more than 13 years ago | (#477863)

My best guess is that video games do not significantly improve most college students' grades. Let's take a sample question from a hypothetical test:

(20 points) Cite evidence that ancient Egyptian society was composed of Africans rather than Caucasians, and explain the impact of this anthropological theory.

Now, let's do a sample experiment. Play Starcraft for three hours. Then, write an essay on the aforementioned question. See how you do.

Perhaps, though, you want to know whether studying for school improves one's ability to play video games.

Let's do another sample experiment. Play ten games of Pac Man. Then, spend three hours studying ancient Egyptian culture. When you're finished, play another game of Pac Man and see if your score is any higher.

I haven't done these experiments, but my hypothesis is that the two are probably so closely linked that every second you spend thinking about whether the Sphinx is a black man will raise your score at least 20,000 points.

Re:Negative correlation (2)

Chiasmus_ (171285) | more than 13 years ago | (#477864)

I play Tribes all day
But my grades are good because
Of amphetamines.

Prisoner's dilema (2)

gattaca (27954) | more than 13 years ago | (#477865)

It's all about interactions with fellow human beings. The hardest bit about business.

Super Smash Brothers and my Grades... (2)

SisterRay45 (151982) | more than 13 years ago | (#477866)

Ok, this is a true story and its kind of hard to believe.

I am an expert Super Smash Brothers player and I'm friends with people who all take the game VERY seriously. Anyway, we play every friday at one of the dorms at the university I attend.

I found that the more I attended these sessions which could last up to 5-6 hours at a time the better I did in my classes. I don't try at school normally...I enjoy school just grades aren't my thing I guess; but when I would play this game more I would do really well. My Bs and Cs would become As and A-s with no real additional effort involved. Weird, huh?

I would tell people about this and no one would believe me save one who offered me some advice: if your grades are better the more you play that game, you should just play it 16 hours a day ;-)

I'm not sure if its really related to this whole thing but I think its a cute story anyway.

Best wishes,


Re:Wahhhhasssuuup? (1)

Aunt Mable (301965) | more than 13 years ago | (#477867)

Ahh.. thanks - so that's what was on the tip of my tongue.

(you know, sometimes I make it too easy for trolls)

-- Eat your greens or I'll hit you!

Think Fast (2)

Calle Ballz (238584) | more than 13 years ago | (#477868)

Someone who would more or less be more likely to get better grades in school, probably wouldn't be playing many video games. Har har.

that's besides the point. I found a good game of strategy to play is Q2: CTF. Not only does it test your reflexes, but there are people that are good. There is strategy with railing people at just the right moment. You are constantly thinking as quick as possible, paying absolute attention to everything going on around you. and you are killing people at the same time. Stupid people don't excel in this game. I found quite a few worthy challengers. I am glad there's at least one older game still kept alive.

Oh yeah, I play Q2 constantly, and i'm making about a 3.8 GPA.

Re:hey (2)

Calle Ballz (238584) | more than 13 years ago | (#477869)

The Incredible Machine was Awesome! wish i had thought about it myself. Oh well, if anyone is interested in obtaining a copy, I still have it. it's less than 1.44 megs. Just email me

To answer the question simply (2)

Glowing Fish (155236) | more than 13 years ago | (#477870)

Don't forget Heroes of Might and Magic 2, 3 or 4

The Game As The Strategy Class (1)

keith (9) | more than 13 years ago | (#477871)

Some info. I'm a senior business administration student at Carnegie Mellon University. Our final huge strategy class is called "Management Game [] ". Essentially this class consists of a simulated market in which student run companies compete. In other words, it's a game. In order to do well in the class you have to do well at the game.

Of course, it's a hell of a lot more complicated than Starcraft. And requires a lot more work, teamwork, analysis, and intelligence.

I've only been in the class for two weeks, and already it has forced me to use knowledge and skills from almost every other class I've taken in the business school.

suggestion... (1)

floam (154783) | more than 13 years ago | (#477872)

i suggest the game Earth 2150 .. Its a great game that not a lot ofpeople have played and its not totally typical so there is a learning curve involved.. Look into it.. =)

Incredible Machines - for the Palm Pilot (1)

ardiri (245358) | more than 13 years ago | (#477873)

hey, why not just download the Palm Computing Platform version at the following website: prodID=7863 []

it is called "Puzzles-in-Motion", and fits on your Palm Pilot - so you can play it anywhere :))

Re:FreeCiv!!! (1)

bwalling (195998) | more than 13 years ago | (#477874)

This is the best answer (or the dos/Windows version of Civilization). The problem with StarCraft is that there are too many things to know in the game. This will show you how well they remember things.

Civilization is easy to learn, but hard to master (as someone above me said). This means that you will get a better test of how smart they are and how well they learn.

Moderate this post up to get some attention!

Re:Wahhhhasssuuup? (1)

eudas (192703) | more than 13 years ago | (#477875)

what about galspanic?


Perfect game for this - Europa Universalis (2)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 13 years ago | (#477876)

There is a game called Europa Univeralis [] created by Swedish team Paradox Entertainment. It is based on a classic boardgame and has sold record numbers in Sweden and Germany (among other countries) where it has been out for a couple of months. The American version just gone gold [] and it is extremely unlikely that any of your students have played it yet which makes it fair for all.

Your students will really have something to chew on there. The presentation and interface is really simple, but the economic, diplomatic, strategic and even religious models are extremely complex. A knowledge of economics is necessary, and so is a grasp of history. Computer Games Online [] gave it 4.5 stars and had this to say: "Europa Universalis plays simultaneously at many different levels and constantly demands a great deal of situational awareness. It's more Imperialism than Civilization, though more complex than either. The economic system is the heart of the game. It's robust enough to accurately model development from the late Renaissance all the way through Mercantilism to early Colonialism. The game nimbly keeps track of a staggering amount of minutiae such as the inflationary effects of excess liquid cash, intergovernmental loans, trade policies, and a comprehensive list of commodities. While this sort of micormanagerial detail will usually fall below your radar in terms of management, it can have a serious impact on your foreign policy and statecraft. You will not feel bogged by these details, however-they are simply available for consideration whenever needed. "

Strategy Gaming [] said: "So what we are left with is a massively complicated game interweaving elements of religions, politics, colonialism, conquest, technology, and militarism taking place on a multifaceted map with layers of trade relationships, alliances and political relationships, while the map is constantly being expanded through exploration - in short, there's literally something for everyone. Wars, as is the historical fact, should typically be the last resort as their cost and consequence make the gains rarely equal the expenditure. A good player will be able to keep in mind the different venues of competition, and a weather-eye on their predicted opponents in each of these areas. Keeping ahead in this game is an extraordinary challenge, and I found myself constantly pausing the game to issue orders. The only thing I haven't been able to test in this beta is the multiplayer, but the developers have made it clear that it's been kept in mind. They are clearly aware that no matter how good the AI is - and it is, believe me (I confess I've actually asked one of the programmers if anyone has won the darn thing...and this is in beta) - this game will shine most brightly with humans running each of the player states."

And [] : "I'm glad to see that the religious aspects of the game are equally important. Each nation has a particular religious identity (various types of Christians, Muslims, Sunni, Shia, etc.) and that identity influences the way other nations treat you. During the game, a few historical events will shift the religious balance to one side or the other. After the Reformation, for instance, Catholic countries can convert to Counter Reformation Catholicism. If a Counter Reformed Catholic nation defeats either a Protestant or Reformist nation, the Counter Reformation Catholic country can force the defeated nation to adopt Counter Reformation Catholicism as part of the peace settlement. And this is just one small example of the depth of the religious model in the game."

************************************************ ** *

Which game to use Try this. (2)

Fross (83754) | more than 13 years ago | (#477877)

okay, the main question in this article seems to be asking for suggestions on what game, or even sort of game, to use. So a bit of analysis first...

What we seem to want to find out is whether an aptitude at academia equates to skill at gaming, or if the inverse is true.

The game required will need to be quick to pick up, but also quite challenging early on. For non-(regular) game players, I'd imagine this translates to something not too esoteric, with a simple interface.

What sort of game you choose depends really on what aptitude you're looking for. Puzzle/problem solving? Hand-eye coordination and reflexes? Adaptability to a new environment?

If you want to go for something puzzle-like, which would supposedly show an aptitude for problem solving, organisation, and forward-thinking, i'd recommend something tetris-y. try to choose one they probably haven't played before, what about Bejeweled [] ?

For something more action-packed, it's got to be a first person shooter. This is both immersive and fast-paced. So Quake, or something similar - don't make it too complex with tons of weapons, environmental issues etc (eg, Unreal). If you're looking primarily for results on how people adapt to this sort of game quickly, i'd suggest just throwing everyone in a deathmatch and see how they perform. You could then correlate academic proficiency with their kill rate.

Hey, if only i'd been ble to use a "frags per minute" score instead of something like a GPA... :)

Games like simcity, starcraft, etc, have more complicated interfaces and more things to learn before you can properly play - to non-gamers this may be daunting and frustrating, so unless you're looking at how well they can *understand* games, as opposed to how well they can *play* them, i'd recommend steering clear of them. They also have a much longer learning curve, and can be influenced more by previous experience.

Best of luck, this sounds like a great project, and please let us know what the results are!


Re:Business Students vs. Strategy Games (1)

Tet (2721) | more than 13 years ago | (#477878)

Unfortunately, the only viable game I can think of would be Lemonade Stand, but that was only available for my Apple II about 15 years ago...

I seem to recall it was longer than that. Probably nearer 20 years ago. I'm fairly sure it was pre-1983.

Re:My advice (2)

Tet (2721) | more than 13 years ago | (#477879)

Have them play it every day for two straight days, with only a four-hour break for sleep. Then, on the day of their final, have them play Starcraft instead of showing up.

Sadly, that sounds all too familiar. With me it was my Computer Networking exam, and the game was Rainbow Islands on the Amiga. Ahhh, memories of a misspent youth... :-)

Civ II (not test of time) or Go (1)

pyrote (151588) | more than 13 years ago | (#477880)

I personally love this game, Great strategy, and really not too many people have played it to the extent they have starcraft.

Or for the Classic approach, try Go-Moku.
that game is good enough, that you can learn it quick, but take a lifetime to master it.

The best and Most EVIL game in existance (1)

bedel231 (266732) | more than 13 years ago | (#477881)

The best game I have ever played and it is only about human interaction would be the board game diplomacy. The rules are childish but the game play is unique. I havent played for eight years and there are still some people who dont talk to me over it!!!

Qix - a VERY good choice for this (2)

Fross (83754) | more than 13 years ago | (#477882)

Qix came out as an arcade in, err, 1982? Something like that. It got ported to practically every system in the 80s and several in the 90s as well. Most of the followups just added extra features, but didn't add much to the gameplay.

It is of course available on MAME, so that may be an option. And yes, it is a very good choice for this sort of thing - quick and easy to understand, but tests many areas of gaming, with a long skill curve :>


Re:hey (2)

Tet (2721) | more than 13 years ago | (#477883)

Forgot, The Incredible Machine might be a decent test of intellectual abilities.

Yes, but it, along with my nomination, Sokoban, rely on very different skills to Starcraft. They require the ability to plan ahead and a certain degree of spacial awareness, as opposed to the ability to manage limited resources successfully. Both skills are important, and it's probably worth testing your subjects against games of both types. I'd recommend Sokoban and Heroes Of Might And Magic III as outstanding games in each category.

Game to use (1)

Hieronymus Powered (258428) | more than 13 years ago | (#477884)

Well, I didn't see anyone else use it, and I think it might apply . . . but it could be too related to their major. Pretty much straight-ahead business simulation game: Capitalism Plus, from Enlight Software (

hey! i resant that (5)

fluxrad (125130) | more than 13 years ago | (#477885)

i se alot of psots about the corlletation of plaeing a lot of videyo gamze and doing poorly in youer studies.

as an englash major, i play alot of videyo gamze and i donot theenk they have hurt my studees one bit. as a mattar of fact, i theenk i have a signigifant advantege ovar my peers, beeng that i haev larned how to commnucitate in the infarmashun age (i no computars are the next big thing).

har har all of yuo hoo skoff at me. i will shooot yuo wiht a rale gun.

After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network

Strategies... (1)

moz25 (262020) | more than 13 years ago | (#477886)

Well, what one often sees in games like starcraft it usually comes down to dumb mass offensives. The trick lies in making fairly good defences, pumping up production of armies (don't just build one factory, build 10) and then attacking.

I think the correlation would be higher where the player gets more time to think. Risk, simcity, civ, etc are good examples.

I personally like Quake 3, simply because while playing it, it keeps my mind off of other things. It's more a reflex/anticipation game than strategy IMO.


"The Logic of Failure" (2)

ansgar13 (92394) | more than 13 years ago | (#477887)

There is a book by an Austrian Psychologyp professor: Dietrich Doerner Die Logik des Misslingens which translates roughly into The logic of failure. He investigates human decision failures using different models and games, among them strategy games bearing a similarity to e.g, civilization. His results cleary show that there is no difference between academics and non-academics in the end, i.e. achieving or not achieving a certain goal. There is however a difference in approach, e.g. a physicist tackles a problem more systematically, while a non-academic tends to decide more intuitively.

It seems there is no english translation, hence I would recommend all german speaking slashdot readers to get it; its written for a more general audience, not only psychologists, and it can help you to identify personal problem solving and project managment difficulties.

Tetris is the way (1)

Hydrian (183536) | more than 13 years ago | (#477888)

The game is stratigic, fast learning curve and is is there can be easily judged. While a game like StarCraft judges strategic abiltiy it, its ability on who won and why could be very subjective. Playing tetris in single player mode causes a very easy environment to judge.

Re:FreeCiv!!! (1)

pyretic22 (247450) | more than 13 years ago | (#477889)

Or Alpha Centauri which is even more complex and a good game at thinker level/huge map will keep you busy for at least two days.

Why not Monopoly??? (1)

Joe 'Nova' (98613) | more than 13 years ago | (#477890)

It seems to me the business majors would have a field day with other fields geeks. It would prove if they knew their stuff! Then again, if you want to test raw skill at learning, a first person scroller ain't it. Mebbe Starcraft isn't such a bad choice....

Re:Base the game on the course (1)

Wolfier (94144) | more than 13 years ago | (#477891)

Yeah, like, if you're in a police academy, play counter-strike or tactical-ops!

The Intelligence Problem (2)

bumagovitch (181060) | more than 13 years ago | (#477892)

It wasn't clear to me whether this independent study is in the realm of psych, sociology, anthro (ack) or otherwhat -- But if you're trying to get really specific data on the correlation of academic aptitude to gameplaying aptitude, you'll be running into the intelligence / performance / motivation problem, which could really obfuscate your data. That is, namely, the some people are good at things either because they're intelligent or they're motivated (or both). There are competitive people who will try to win everything the walk into, whether they're smart or not, and other people who are not motivated, at leats in every competitive environment, smart or not. Let's not even start on the definition of intelligence! I think you might run into the problem that the people who are motivated to win at starcraft or freeciv may not be the people who are motivated to do well in school. Or rather, that this correlation may not match up at all with aptitude. I apologize for the pessimistic-ness of my message. I guess that if this is in psychology, I'd try to set it up so that you can weed motivation from aptitude somewhat, like asking the testees to perform both academic and vidgame excercises for similar rewards. If you're in more of the anthro/soc rut, you might want to consider just interviewing people: equal numbers of B-school (wait -- oh, btw, B-school students aren't actually paradigms of academic excellence. I'd go law or med school, pre-med... somesuch)... um, equal numbers of students who play games and don't (get hours they spend on games, schoolwork, etc, and grade-averages) and just compare them. That's also much simpler. For anyone who's interested -- this is just one of the reasons why IQ scores don't mean feces. I wish I had the bibliography in front of me -- you'd be astounded at how exactly utterly nil the value of IQ scores are. (Sorry MENSA.) ~B

Different approach (2)

RegularFry (137639) | more than 13 years ago | (#477893)

I haven't seen this one suggested yet, so here we go...

While a steep learning curve can be a bad thing, I think that in this case you could use it to your advantage.
You could use a complex game, like StarCraft, but less well known. I believe FreeCiv was mentioned, but I don't know enough about it to be able to assess its suitability. Anyway, the main requirements of the game are that it should be complex, not too well known, and customisable Deep strategy would be desirable, but not essential. Anyway, the test would involve introducing the test subjects to the game, and giving them a week (or so) to familiarise themselves with the controls.
At the end of that week, you then throw them all in at the deep end (if it's a multiplayer game, then ideally against each other) on a new, custom map (or equivalent, if the game isn't map-based) that you can guarantee that none of the test subjects will have seen before.
How well each person does will be a measure of several things:
  • Their strategic ability (as opposed to rote learning ability) on the new map.
  • Their ability to learn a new methodology in the unfamiliar interface.
  • Competitiveness, if the final game is played as multiplayer, with all of the test subjects involved.

As far as I know, a game like StarCraft could fulfill this, as the week's learning time would even out the disparity between those familiar with the game, and those totally new to it. Maybe a week wouldn't be long enough, but that's the general idea.

use careful study methodology (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#477894)

i'd be cautious about just comparing mean scores on the games for the two groups because you don't randomize at all. you might consider using case-control methodology. Define a case based on outcome (high performance in class), then try to define controls who are as closely matched as they can be to the cases except in their score on the game and see what the odds ratio of high performance on the game is. otherwise your data will be worse than useless and misleading. You may want to do it for a couple sections of the class. this is such a charged topic that you may as well use some decent methodology to attempt to answer it.

another suggestion (1)

e4 (102617) | more than 13 years ago | (#477895)

What about Stars! [] from Empire Interactive?

Why only one game? (2)

Mike1024 (184871) | more than 13 years ago | (#477896)


Why only one game?

You could choose a selection of different genres of game, then you could check for correlation between genres of game. I suggest you try a selection of the following:

  • Shoot 'em up - Half-life (It's just cool!)
  • Stratergy - Alpha Centuri
  • Financial - SimCity 3000
  • etc...

This would make it easy to bulk out your essay if you found you didn't have much to say. You could also, for instance, have them play Counterstrike. You could have a team of non-academics versus a team of academics. Better still, you could have two groups, one where all the academics' computers were in the same room (so they can communicate easily) and the non-academics are divided up, and the other group doing this in reverse, so you can see if academics communicate more effectively and other such things.

Or maybe I have no idea what you want.


...another comment from Michael Tandy.

Games can be detrimental. (1)

DeafDumbBlind (264205) | more than 13 years ago | (#477897)

One of my college roomates who wasn't really a computer guy discovered Duke3d his senior year. He got so addicted to the game that he ended up dropping out of a very prestigious school with 1 semester left to go. I've seen a lot of people pulling all nighters just to play 'one more turn' or just to get 'one more level'. I think it would be great to have games that actually teach you things along the way. Sort of like Capitalism Plus crossed with The Sims. The best way to learn is when it doesn't feel like a chore.

I'm a HS senior (1)

browser_war_pow (100778) | more than 13 years ago | (#477898)

and I have a 4.2 GPA and play my DC a lot. I don't see how or why people want to lump all gamers into the same category. It's just the same attitude that made racism so prevalent in this country in the 60s and earlier

Off the cuff, even if you find a correlation... (2)

FallLine (12211) | more than 13 years ago | (#477899)

one way or the other, what will it really mean? Having majored in finance and having played a few of these types of games it's pretty clear that there is little in the curriculum in most business courses that would apply to these computer strategy games. For one, a large part of running a business comes down to operational skills (i.e., the day to day elements of making a product and/or providing a service with the zillion problems that ALWAYS pop up), which is well outside of the scope of most of what is taught. I also don't think games really test these kinds of skills. For one, they're largely tactical, in my opinion, despite their title. Secondly, most of the rules behind these games can be reduced to simple algorithms. Once you figure out the algorithms approximately, you're set. So much of the game is wrapped up in figuring those out. The only way I can see a business degree possibly helping much is in knowing some of the fundamental concepts behind those algorithms. However, those are so fundamental in my opinion as to be taught in introductory level courses, many of which many people already know.

which games to use as test bed... (1)

pvera (250260) | more than 13 years ago | (#477900)

I would try to test them with two games. Try first something based on reflexes like maybe a pinball game, a 3-D shooter, etc. The second game should be something with a steep learning curve and more goal oriented, like a real time strategy game or any of the Maxis sims series. Over years I have come to rely on these separate kinds of games for different reasons. If I need to cool off, I am stressed out, sick, etc., I play a 3D shooter. These games are intensive enough that I cannot think about anything else for as long as I am in the game, which helps me to relax after an hour playing. If I need a timeout from a technical challenge at work (I'm a programming manager) I play something that forces me to think harder, like maybe a Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 skirmish with more than 2 opponents. Usually after I am done with the game I can go back to my problem and attck it from a different angle.


Re:Base the game on the course (1)

MaxQuordlepleen (236397) | more than 13 years ago | (#477901)

Don't forget the Commodore PET classic LEMONADE STAND. I'm sure there's a modern version somewhere. :)

I'm not really sure what the problem is. (1)

Redspectra (309987) | more than 13 years ago | (#477902)

As numerous people have pointed out, You have not posted the basic thesis of your paper up, Mozzer. That's a bad thing. Without it, we can only guess as to what you really want.

Saying "I want to see if there is a correlation between video game abilities and academics" is really, really vague. And a bad thesis. What determines video game performance is different for each game, and the performance in one game is not indicative of ability in other games.

So, do you want a game that tests logical reasoning? Hand-eye coordination? Ability to manipulate others? Goal setting? General geekyness? Figure out what you want to test, and then pick a game that focuses on that, and is a measure of very little else (such as hand-eye coordination).

As for worrying that experience in gaming will skew your results, there are ways around it. Check out Repeated measures ANOVA's for one....

By the way, I am in CS 412 at Cornell University, and we are looking for one more to complete our compilers team. E-mail if you are interested. (The last paragraph was an experiment of my own :-))

Knowledge + work-out for your brain (1)

aznin (309986) | more than 13 years ago | (#477903)

Ultimately this will probably be influenced by the type of computer game one is playing. Personal experience: I've learned a lot from certain games. When I was a freshman, I had only very vague notions of economic principles. The original Railroad Tycoon and SimCity on my rusty 486 made me familiar with some basic concepts, like bonds etc. I can't say playing Doom did anything for me (except give me motion sickness). Similarly, the original Civilization was very informative in terms of history. (BTW, thank you to the person who posted the FreeCiv link!) Apart from knowledge gathering, I'm sure games also help with things like abstract thinking, reactive speed, visual imagination, strategy in general, ... It can be a work-out for your brain. Everyone who plays chess will know how your sharpness deteriorates if you don't play for a while, much like your body condition disappears when you stop working out. It's a platitude, but the brain is a muscle.

Tough with college students... (1)

joealba (36808) | more than 13 years ago | (#477904)

I did a somewhat similar study in college. I worked with a mixed group of 3-6 grade kids in an inner city school teaching them about computers and the Internet.

To make a long story short, I was able to conclusively show that computers have a very positive affect on classroom learning when properly worked into the curriculum. We even had a few special needs students who did better than the regular ed students -- The computers helped to focus their attention more than their classroom teachers ever could without them!

This is just an educated guess, but I would think that college students have already learned to focus (when they want to). :) So there goes that conclusion.

Your study is certainly valid, but you may need to get a very large sample population to help offset the different groups which may prove to be problematic to your study (creating outliers in your statistical analysis):

- Students (educationally talented or not) who just play games all the time and do not take their education seriously. (My ex-roommate was unbelievably smart in electrical engineering, but he spent all day on MUDs and dropped out)

- Students who just aren't that good at the type of game you decide to use in your study. I drive circles around lots of people in driving simulations, and I can frag pretty well in Quake and Delta Force LW. But, for some reason my friends kick my ass up, down, and sideways in Starcraft.

My only other suggestion is: Before you start, make sure you have a well-documented plan of exactly what you plan to prove (or disprove) and explain how you will test your subjects to truly show (in an unbiased way) the correlation between score in the game and grade in the class.

Good luck! Make sure you post and let us know how it goes!

Re:Result is obvious (1)

Betcour (50623) | more than 13 years ago | (#477905)

Hummm... I like to think we made me what I am (an engineer and a geek) is my abuse of legos when I was a kid. After a while, building and improving stuff became necessary to my psychic balance :)

Stars! (1)

Caine (784) | more than 13 years ago | (#477906)

I would say Stars!, an excellent strategy game from 96 or so. There's a shareware version available with should be quite big enough for your needs. Actually I could recommend Stars! to everyone, the only shareware I've ever registered. Got an 8 player game running right now and it rocks :). "Kill your neighbourraces, exploit planets, be all you can be."

I don't see why it has to be some brainy game. (1)

dwlemon (11672) | more than 13 years ago | (#477907)

I've never played a game that awarded points for violence and gore alone.

There's always a goal that requires some strategy (and if not, you're playing a really shit game)

To me, the mechanics of a game are the most important. The graphics -- wether they are cute pink puppies, or blood and guts -- are just a GUI real-world metaphor.

'course puzzles are my favorite. I'm still trying to get through Lolo 3. So irritating.

Lemonade stand (1)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 13 years ago | (#477908)


I remember that game. It was great fun until I took it to school when I was in fifth grade and another student figured out the optimal strategy...

random factors!!!! (1)

Da_Monk (88392) | more than 13 years ago | (#477909)

There are so many other variables to consider in this experiment it is not even funny! how the students do in the class will also depend on the professor, their lifestyle, their study environment... and a zillion more, if anything a better place to start would be at a base level, where taking grade school students and seeing if they do better at real life tasks that incorporate certain aspects of games after playing the games. (ie: brain teasers after playing LOLO, mazes after gauntlet, etc...)
good luck!

Re:Correlation: interest or learning skills? (1)

j0nb0y (107699) | more than 13 years ago | (#477910)

I definitely agree. I don't believe that measuring a student's ability to learn a new video game against their grades in a class would have much correlation. Past and current involvement with video games would be much more interesting. I would also be interested to know not only how much video games they had played in the past, but what genre. I would expect having played a lot of puzzle games in the past would have a much different effect, than say, playing shooters.

Pharaoh - great game (1)

ModelX (182441) | more than 13 years ago | (#477911)

There is a great game, Pharaoh, which has elements of simcity, economy, and strategy/war games. You need to develop an ancient city's economy to eventually build egyptian monuments. A superb game.

(20 points) Cite evidence that ancient Egyptian society was composed of Africans rather than Caucasians, and explain the impact of this anthropological theory.

If you look at the famous egyptian toy soldiers you can see half the army looks African and the other half quite Caucasian.

How about Laissez-Faire monopoly? (1)

Jovian (106485) | more than 13 years ago | (#477912)

This is just a silly name for a game that my pals and I came up with.

The only rule is that if you're caught, you have to pay whatever you took back, and put an equivalent amount of money into the free parking. As you can imagine, it makes for a riveting game, and should be quite applicable to a large-scale business model. :)

Oh, and speaking of games and marks, I really should be studying for the exam that I have in, oh, 50 mintues. Oy me.

negative or positive correlation? (1)

The Blank (109953) | more than 13 years ago | (#477913)

are you trying to find out whether good academic skills would show up in strategy games as well, or whether gaming too much affects academic performance? (i'm assuming the former)
this could go anywhere; it seems more like an education or psychology study, comparing ability in strategy games and ability to strategize in the business world.

of course, imho, the best way to implement a hostile takeover is with a zergling rush. ^_^

You could try... (1)

Thrikreen (130120) | more than 13 years ago | (#477914)

...Entrepreneur from Stardock [] .

For business strategy students, you might want to try out a game more like what course they're in, instead of a general RTS like StarCraft.

StarDock also has a demo of their sequel for Entrepreneur called The Corporate Machine.

Re:Strategy to gauge business sense? (1)

Silent.Bob(.And.Jay) (304120) | more than 13 years ago | (#477915)

How bout for Logical reasoning? I think that in that area, you can't get a much better game then Minesweeper. And as for the CS kids, there's always that "P vs NP" thing that i don't really get!


Dependent on what you want to test (1)

Inigima (47437) | more than 13 years ago | (#477916)

Your choice of games should depend on what exactly you're trying to test. RTS games like StarCraft do test strategy skills, but they also require good reflexes and fast mouse movement. If that's OK, try Myth or Myth II. The system works a bit like StarCraft, but plays much differently. They weren't as popular as Warcraft II or StarCraft, so it's less likely (though certainly not impossible) that your sample will have played them.

If you JUST want to test strategy, especially for business school students, try the old Super Nintendo game Aerobiz. The basic idea is to run a profitable airline company against either human or computer competitors. Aerobiz is commonly found online if you're unable to procure cartridges (legal stupidies prevent me from offering links, and the same stupidities force me to say that I advise against and disclaim all responsibility for any illegal action which you may be considering as a result of this post).


how about... (1)

c4thy (224077) | more than 13 years ago | (#477917)

...some old 8bit nes action. i suggest you fire up your old nintender and break out nobunaga's ambition, a bad ass strategy game, but not much eye candy. ps. case #1 I am master of Nobunaga's Ambtition and Academic loser.

Re:Strategy to gauge business sense? (2)

Atreides4 (309781) | more than 13 years ago | (#477918)

I would suggest Railroad Tycoon I or II instead of Airport Tycoon because they are more fun to play. Also, I remember some time ago there was a game called Capitalism which was supposed to be a direct simulation of business. Finally, why not Alpha Centauri, easily the best turn based strategy game ever made.

Simple. Effective. Free. (1)

Monthenor (42511) | more than 13 years ago | (#477919)

Use Tetris. It's easy to learn, tough to master, and if you can't find a version of it that'll suit your needs, you have no idea where to find games. I know that if I didn't have Tetris on my TI-85, I wouldn't have made it through Chemistry...

Go Geek. Rule the world.

Re:FreeCiv!!! (1)

GodSpiral (167039) | more than 13 years ago | (#477920)

I also think anything from the civilization series is the best choice for business students.

The biggest reason for choosing this is that its a turn based game. So you won't be testing reflex skills, which is 90% of starcraft actually. Age of empires is also mostly memorization and reflexes.

As an MBA, I expect you'll find that academic business thinking skills are strongly coorelated with success in the civ series. These games are pretty easy if you're used to thinking about tradeoffs and efficiency.

Master of Orion I or II (1)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 13 years ago | (#477921)

That's my vote. Part economic, part diplomatic, part military. Of course, the problem with using a well known game is that they'd get cheat ideas from the net. :)

NetHack? (1)

Ravagin (100668) | more than 13 years ago | (#477922)

Maybe NetHack?

No, wait, stop laughing. I'd bet the the majority of college seniors now don't have nay experience with roguelike gaming; the closest "popular" game is Diablo (shiny nethack! with animation!), which differs from the average "real" roguelike in that it is more real-timeish and generally less convoluted.

Nethack [] has a nice blend of thinking and hack-and-slash violence. If you play it enough, you really have to start thinking and applying knowledge (do you know what amethyst means, and how amethyst stones interact with various potions? Hm? Do ya?).
Also, it's my favorite game. 8)


The game to choose.... (1)

SGDarkKnight (253157) | more than 13 years ago | (#477923)

Come on people, the best game to choose for strategy would have to be the orignal Myth. It was a great game, because you could not build hordes of guys to just simply overrun the other players. It was all about planning your attack and not wasting any of your men, becuase you only had a set number to begin with. Now if you want a game where you need to build an army to accomplish your task, then I would have to say Homeworld. It is is one of the only games where you could be attacked from any possible angle, it is one of the best games for a completly 3-D environment. You could be attacked from above, below, left, right or any other angle. Anyways, thats my two cents... **A no smoking section in a restaurant is like having a no peeing section in a swimming pool**

Spoiler (1)

Talla (95956) | more than 13 years ago | (#477924)

You seem to want to test if people who do well/badly in one field where strategic thinking is needed, will do similarly well/badly in another field where strategic thinking is needed? Sorry if this ruins the fun, but yes, somewhat depending on motivation, you'll find a correlation.

Re:I don't know for Business Strategy... (1)

ThetaPrime (261060) | more than 13 years ago | (#477925)

I wouldn't say they'd do quite so well with monkey island. That game depends on being able to give yourself an extremely twisted way of looking at things (The whole melt the painting thing in monkey four, the ship and island areas in monkey 1)

*general (1)

Nybbler (123556) | more than 13 years ago | (#477926)

I would recommend one of the *general games, like Panzer General or Star General. These military strategy games are run on a turn basis, so "quick fingers" are not necessary. (Move all of your select(grunts,tanks,fighters,bombers,transports,bo ats,starships,etc)into position, select what to attack, then let the next player go!

Re:Wahhhhasssuuup? (1)

ThetaPrime (261060) | more than 13 years ago | (#477927)

Sierra can have some really terrible games. However, Homeworld was pretty good (if you want a new game)

If you're looking for an older (cheaper) game I suggest Command & Conquer or Myth. C&C has some major flaws but it's the best of the entire series, and Myth/Myth 2 remain my favorite strategy games since the day I first played them.

Note, however, that myth 2 CAN have a steep learning curve, and individual style helps a lot in discovering what works for you.

Re:Base the game on the course (1)

Lacutis (100342) | more than 13 years ago | (#477928)

Yeah, there are still a few versions of Lemonade stand out there, and it's actually a great Idea. It's a simple game that still stresses the qualities he's looking for. s.LemonadeStand33375.shtml []
There's the classic Apple 2 rom. []
Theres another clone someone made for the PC []
Here's a Java version.

That's all I could find with a quick look.

Re:Qix - a VERY good choice for this (1)

Aunt Mable (301965) | more than 13 years ago | (#477929)

There are several Win32 and dos versions, even (gasp, I know) Linux version(s).

-- Eat your greens or I'll hit you!

Homeworld / HWC (1)

danwatt (61528) | more than 13 years ago | (#477930)

If you want to stick to strat. games, try Homeworld or Homeworld: Cataclysm (though being newer, might not be as good for your study). Not only is it RTS, but the gamer has to think in 3, not 2, dimmensions.

Re:Base the game on the course (1)

El Snewf (221658) | more than 13 years ago | (#477931)

I don't know how close you want the game to be related to actualy business but Dope Wars is really a good choice. It kind of blurs the line between economics and fun (and dealing drugs) but I think it may suit as it is easy to learn and free.

Method Suggestions for Choosing the Game (2)

jeffsenter (95083) | more than 13 years ago | (#477932)

I think that might take quite a bit of business student personhours to do well.

In order for the results to be somewhat meaningful you will probably want to have plenty of business students. I would think at least 80.

The students need to play multiple games too so that one fuckup doesn't doesn't infludence.

Also, it might be better to have two different video games, if you can use the business students that long. That will help cut down on the quirks that people may have and the strategy defiencies of a single video game.

For the selection of the game, if students are unaware that they are going to be playing a video game you could ask them first to write down all the strategy video games they have played and eliminate the ones that people have played. If someone has already played the particular video game it will really throw off the results so obcsure games may be better. If the business students are not international in background foreign games may be a source.

This sounds like an interesting project for an independent study. I would suggest talking with a couple professors in sociology for some tips on running this experiment and also designing questionares if necessary.

Colonization (Sid/Microprose) (1)

loki29 (307650) | more than 13 years ago | (#477933)

May not be the most politically incorrect, but it's got both a military and economy aspect that are strong, it's kind of like a 'Civilization Lite' so to speak.

Re:Stars! (1)

311Stylee (106182) | more than 13 years ago | (#477934)

yeah, this would be a really good game.. players have to design ships to fight off other players or computer controlled players, transport colonists, defend wormholes and planets, repair injurned battleships etc. You are basically in charge of singlehandedly exploring and taking over the galaxy.

the best part about this game is that you can easily measure their growth rate, population, income etc. to get some good numbers.

another interesting thing to compare would be the reaction of the players to different genres of video games to find if they enjoyed or disliked or were confused by the game. this is important because, as some of the other posts mentioned, games' interface and strategy elements differ considerably... this way you could compare games that require more eye-hand coordination to games that are more turn-based strategy ...anyway..sounds like a good idea.... and, if you spend money on this can't you get a tax deduction or something, for doing research? and, i wonder if you can include the cool ranch doritos and sour cream on there legitimately?

Railroad Tycoon II (2)

Helmholtz (2715) | more than 13 years ago | (#477935)

Without a doubt, this has to be one of the best "buiness strategy" games I've ever played. Oh, and it's fun too. :)

Re:FreeCiv!!! (2)

Fervent (178271) | more than 13 years ago | (#477936)

Dude, if you could get the student to COMPILE FreeCiv I would count that as mastery.

I tried on three different machines (RH 7.0, RH 6.1 and FreeBSD 4.0) and I couldn't get the makefile to work.

its true (1)

dakreepy1 (79389) | more than 13 years ago | (#477937)

i have noticed that i did do a lot better freshmen year, and that was when i played the most video games (quake2, unreal, halflife, starcraft, and more)

But.... (1)

rattid (214610) | more than 13 years ago | (#477938)

I think one of the points of using a video is to measure their strategy AND quick reflexes/clicking abilities. Otherwise you should just play chess...

Re:Negative correlation (1)

rc5-ray (224544) | more than 13 years ago | (#477939)

As I finish my fourth year of medical school, I look back at how much time I spent playing AOE/AOK and Half-Life during medical school. Several of us would study for boards for an hour, and then have some fragging. Then study, then frag. Lather, rinse, repeat. I don't know how much it helped us learn the material. But, it's sure a great way to bleed off the stress of medical school.

Oh yeah. I did pass all my classes and boards without too much difficulty ;-)

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