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Playing With Friends Makes You a Better Gamer

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the you'll-keep-hearing-about-your-flubs dept.

Games 63

An anonymous reader writes "Computer scientists at the University of Colorado and the Stevens Institute of Technology have shown that gamers that play with friends play better. The study used the blockbuster FPS Halo: Reach as a testbed, and combined ground truth data on friendships from an anonymous survey with data about the multiplayer competitions extracted using the Reach Stats API. They found that the more friends you have on your team, the more assists, the fewer betrayals, the more you score, and the greater the probability your team wins, and that this 'friends for the win' effect goes above and beyond the benefits of playing with skilled strangers. (They also show that older gamers are statistically better than younger players, contrary to popular opinion.) Study lead Prof. Aaron Clauset, writing on his blog, says that friends 'may be able to effectively anticipate or adapt to each others' actions or strategies without an explicit need for verbal (and thus time consuming) communication or coordination,' and 'these effects may be fairly universal, and not merely limited to the traditional domains like sports and war, where practicing together has a long tradition.'"

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This just in... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362353)

This just in: teams of people with mutually-known skillsets perform better than teams of people with no mutually-known skillsets. Film at eleven.

Re:This just in... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362403)

11pm or 11am? What time zone? What channel? Don't they have an online feed? Why film?

Re:This just in... (4, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362455)

11pm or 11am? What time zone? What channel? Don't they have an online feed? Why film?

See, if you knew the other AC personally, you would know that it was 11PM, on 102 and it was EST. You would also know that there is no online feed and that it is a film because it is film night - time to cozy down on the lounge with the significant other.

However, seeing as you are new to the team here, keep wasting time asking those stupid questions and making our team lose. Thanks for you effort.

Re:This just in... (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 2 years ago | (#39367395)

ask your friends, they'll know.

Re:This just in... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363571)

Now we know where Captain Obvious went to school -- undergrad at University of Colorado and grad studies at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

People who know each other play as a team better than complete strangers? Whoda thunkit?

Something like that (4, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 2 years ago | (#39365411)

Something like that. Though actually, i'd say it's not even just KNOWING the skillsets, but being used to doing certain things as a group.

It's something that's been known in the army for example for, oh, maybe a couple thousand years now: a legion of 5000 people acting as a group and already being used to act as a group, beats a horde of 10,000 uncoordinated barbarians any day, even if maybe individually they're better warriors.

Furthermore, that as long as a unit stays cohesive, it has a fighting chance, and when it lost cohesion it's pretty much already defeated. They just may or may not know it yet.

I wouldn't even necessarily write it under "being a better gamer". It's more just about the group. If everyone is used to the rest of the group acting in a certain way, and viceversa, essentially they've formed some group tactics. It doesn't even have to be stated, and in fact it's even better if you don't have to. You just already know that that guy will try to flank, that other guy prefers to keep the distance and snipe, etc, and most importantly you found SOME way to do all that, that SOMEHOW works. And that by itself will beat the same number of uncoordinated players, even if maybe individually they can aim better or react faster or whatever other "good player" criterion one may take.

And it's not just about "knowing" that that guy's skillset includes sniping, or that other guy can sneak around, which might still leave one wondering if they will. It's already being used to what each of those will do, and already being used to dash in a certain situation because you're already used that there's someone counter-sniping for you while you do that.

That said, if army taught me anything, I'd say that limiting their conclusions to "friends" is misleading. Sure, you want bonding between them and all, but ultimately what matters even more than friendship is exactly that being already trained to apply the same group tactics as a group. If I had to go to war and had to choose whether to entrust my life to my best buddy who can't tell a gun's butt from its muzzle, or to that guy I thought to be the biggest douchebag in the company, I'd pick the douchebag any day. Because friendship is grrreat, but already having the reflex to provide cover fire and when to provide it is better.

A giant Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362377)

"They found that the more friends you have on your team, the more assists, the fewer betrayals, the more you score, and the greater the probability your team wins"

Why do we do these studies again? They only information that is irrelevant, widely inaccurate, or more and more frequently, both.

Re:A giant Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362389)

The rejects of hard science have "quantum computing". The rejects of social science have "does friendship help?"

Portal 2 & Resident Evil 5 (4, Funny)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362381)

I honestly believe that I would have been faster at playing through the co-op modes of these games with a stranger than with one of my best friends. The number of times I dropped him (and him me) into the acid, grinding machine, flames or caught him (accidently!) with a rocket launcher is phenomenal.

We engage in friendly competition to find extremely creative ways of killing the other person that I'd never do to a stranger.

Re:Portal 2 & Resident Evil 5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39365583)

Same concept, new game: Magicka.

Played with 3 friends, and we spent several hours finding new and devious ways to kill each other. Eventually, we completed the tutorial.

Re:Portal 2 & Resident Evil 5 (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 2 years ago | (#39367535)

But the primary goal changed. Generally with a game you have two goals: entertainment and completing the game. The primary goal with the stranger was to complete the game. With the friend your primary goal became entertainment and it was more entertaining to kill each other within the game.

Anyway, I have no problem with screwing with friends doing that. Witness Tetris & Dr. Mario.

TeamSpeak etc? (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362385)

If you got friends or clan buddies on your team, chances are huge you also have them on audio coordinating what you do. That hugely increases your odds and is something most don't do with random strangers.

Re:TeamSpeak etc? (OT, only sig relevant) (0)

Lundse (1036754) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362401)

Religion is the anthropomorphization of reality, that behind it all there's an invisible man pulling invisible strings..

Corollary: Conspiracy theories are the anthropomorphisation of history...

Re:TeamSpeak etc? (1)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362531)

Yeah... I'd say it can go the other way too. Having used Xbox Live, I'm quite sure I game much better when I don't have Timmy Powergamer screaming at me from his mother's basement about how I'm definitely using hax to achieve a positive K:D ratio.
The study is a total waste of time because it proves the freaking obvious. It's why the best teams in ALL gaming leagues are not random pugs from IRC recruiting, it's why pugs in MMOs have a much higher failure rate than guild groups.

Re:TeamSpeak etc? (2)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362601)

You get those two?

I remember at the launch of BF3 I had done the coop to unlock all the weapons through it. Then I would hop on servers using those weapons (since they were better than the default kit weapons). I had people bitching about how I must be a hacker because there was no way a Rank 1 could have such advanced weapons.

Re:TeamSpeak etc? (1)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362653)

I thought they were the rule rather than the exception for most popular online games... :(

Re:TeamSpeak etc? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39365059)

The study is a total waste of time because it proves the freaking obvious.

Yes, let's definitely not waste time studying what's "obvious" because it's so totally not worth it when we find out that what was "obvious" is actually wrong (nor, even when it turns out to be right).

I think you might not know how science works...

Re:TeamSpeak etc? (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363279)

Agreed - does this study take into account whether people were speaking to each other? In my experience of playing Halo: Reach you're far more likely to be using voice comms with a friend than with randoms, I've played countless random games where there's been nothing but silence on voice chat.

Though I suppose you could argue that that's just part of the equation in terms of playing with friends, I do think it puts a different spin on the study - the study implies there's some magical link between friends, when in reality it could just be the entirely non-magical action of just talking to each other.

Re:TeamSpeak etc? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39367139)

According to the summary it did.

Seems obvious (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362407)

Anyone who games any amount should not be surprised by the "friends ftw" factor.

However, as for the younger games being better than older debate: my experience is that their reflexes are generally superior (see citations below) and they have a lot of time to practice, but their ability to think strategically can be pretty limited and consequently it is possible to outmaneuver them.

I'm not that old yet at 29, but I'm definitely noticing I'm not as good as I was at 15.

Citations: It looks like late 20s might be the fastest age group due to a superior combination of youth + experience:
http://www.teachervision.fen.com/biology/lesson-plan/63835.html [fen.com]
http://www.usc.edu/CSSF/History/2009/Projects/J1319.pdf [usc.edu]

Can anyone find any other sources on this? I used to believe teens had the fastest raw reaction time of any age group, but I'm unable to find any support for this.

Re:Seems obvious (4, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362503)

Can anyone find any other sources on this? I used to believe teens had the fastest raw reaction time of any age group, but I'm unable to find any support for this.

I don't have any links to references, but I can tell you that my mindest has changed competely in gaming from when I was a youngster in the early days, to now when I am in my early thirties. In terms of game theory, you might say that as a gamer I have become more "FTW". If I see someone in a group, be it a party in an online game, or a teammate in a fps, who is doing something stupid and will die - but not cost the team too much, I will let them die, happily knowing that their death didn't cause the group to fold, where in my youth I would have probably gone running off to save them - and likely cost our group/team two members.

I used to think that a successful raid/game was one where no teammates died when I was young. Now I look on a successful raid/game as one where my side meets the objectives (whether it be killing all the other players or performing the right strategy to kill the boss encounter). Yes, somewhat older folks have a different outlook - I think we play the game to win the game rather than being so engaged in the game to be emotionally connected enough to do dumb shit.

Full Disclosure: I was part of a server leading World of Warcraft guild for a number of years (I have since quit to focus on the real world), I played Conan Online, LoTR Online, Warhammer Online. Star Wars Galaxies, D&D Online, Ultima Online, Quake 2+ Unreal + UT and have been a developer working for Epic designing environments.

Older is colder, but often better and almost always craftier. Younger is faster, but often doing dumb shit - and unpredictable. If you learn that for yourself, you will do well in life.

Re:Seems obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362709)

You wouldn't happen to be Maury Mountain would you? You just described him if you're not lol.

Re:Seems obvious (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39370281)

No, Maury was after my time there. I was there in the late nineties and early naughties.

Re:Seems obvious (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362963)

“There are old pilots and there are bold pilots; but there are no old bold pilots.”

Pretty much applies to everything in life. No?

Re:Seems obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362929)

It's because older gamers grew up on DooM deathmatches. For those who've never played the originals or a port, or at least not recently enough to compare with modern games, download one of the ports and try it out -- you'll notice it is much faster paced than most modern FPSes, and that combined with tricky levels like map01 where a player who knows their shit commonly shuts out a less skilled, but not incompetent, player... it breeds wicked-ass reflexes and and good tactical thinking. So now they're killing your 18-year old punk ass in Q3.

(Seriously, get online with zdaemon or skulltag, play with the voluntary restriction of always using the pump shotgun, and play a few hours weekly. It will improve your skills in any other FPS.)

Re:Seems obvious (1)

bipbop (1144919) | more than 2 years ago | (#39367059)

My reaction time isn't quite as good anymore at 30, but every time I play games against teenagers, they're overconfident and kind of terrible. Clearly that's not universal, but I wonder how many kids have grown up thinking they're good at video games because they've grown up with easy games. That is, it's not a matter of reflexes most of the time, but skill.

Sorry, I have no sources to add--only anecdata.

Most of the older gamers already left (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362411)

Most of the "older" gamers got tired of teenagers shouting abuse at them and generally sucking the fun out of multi-player FPSs. Those that remain often do so for the pleasure of being able to beat the annoying little twerps. Now get off my lawn .......

Re:Most of the older gamers already left (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362631)

Eh... older gamers tend too play on PC more than younger ones, and I've yet to have annoying teenagers on PC, while PS3 has them every match (BF3 on moth platforms).

Re:Most of the older gamers already left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362729)

The research was done on Halo: Reach, an Xbox 360 exclusive. PC gaming wasn't factored into their conclusions. I agree that PC online games tend to have a lower percentage of idiots than console games though.

Re:Most of the older gamers already left (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39368161)

Not only that, but PC voice communication tools tend to have a "mute this idiot for eternity in every game everywhere and never let him bother me again" button. For some reason, consoles think you want to hear that high-pitched twit in a different game even if you muted him in the last 5 games you played.

Now I'm trying to figure out why my cell phone doesn't have that same button on it. "No, I don't want your stupid cruise. Never call me again, and if you do, my device will reject your call without even notifying me." I call it... "blacklisting". I shall patent it and become rich.

Re:Most of the older gamers already left (1)

xhrit (915936) | more than 2 years ago | (#39368819)

>I've yet to have annoying teenagers on PC.

I guess you have never seen the playerbase of F2P Steam games. A few of those PC only Steam games are outright shameful. Global Agenda in particular has the worst community I have ever seen. Every time I turn on voice chat in that game I instantly regret it. Buy2Play games like BF3 at least have that initial barrier to entry that keeps the most degenerate people in line.

In my experience it doesn't matter what platform, it is accessibility. PS3 has some bad and some good communities. A lot of older gamers play Wipeout HD on the ps3, as the fans of the series who started playing when it was first released were playing it in 1995 on DOS. And as Wipeout HD is generally considered to be an oldschool game, and is widely regarded as one of the hardest ps3 games ever made (along withsuper street fighter 2 turbo hd remix, another game from the oldschool era), older gamers tend to be all that plays Wipeout HD.

Re:Most of the older gamers already left (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 2 years ago | (#39370623)

The only F2P Steam game I play is Team Fortress 2, and the server I usually play on has QuickPlay disabled. Still, there's probably a good 100 regulars for a 24-player server.

I find it perfectly normal to let my character die if it's useful to my team.

My main class in TF2 is Spy, a specialist class that has a revolver, electronics sapper (disables the Engineer building it's attached to and starts draining its health), Knife that does instant-kill backstabs, a cloaking device (prevents you from attacking while cloaked), and a disguise kit (that auto-disables when you attack with anything other than the sapper), I'll start shooting my (relatively weak) gun at enemies attacking my team's Medic. If there are any other nearby enemies, I've essentially signed my death warrant at this point, as Spy is a low health class.

The thing is, as a Glass Cannon [tvtropes.org] , if they don't deal with me, I can get behind them and one-hit kill them... but the Medic can not only heal people, but after their charge meter charges, make the Medic and his heal target invulnerable for 8 seconds.

Back on point: If I either kill said enemy or make him go after me instead, there's a net benefit down the line, as the Medic's charge meter resets every time he dies. The longer he lives, the more likely he gets to 100% charge and we can then decimate the enemy forces.

Spy is also great for Pincher Maneuvers. Sometimes this requires coordination, sometimes it just happens (my team's starting to push forward... backstabbing time!).

The main problem with Spy is that, after your first kill (or multiple kills in a chain), the enemy is on the watch for you.

Re:Most of the older gamers already left (2)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362769)

And older gamers may be a more filtered population. Those who still game at 30 don't include those who always sucked. Poorer strategists and people who are slow probably lose more and quit before they reach the older gamer category. Its not as fun if you mostly lose.

Re:Most of the older gamers already left (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363157)

I'm way (way) past 30, and a blind bonobo could slaughter me in any FPS even when I was a lot younger. It's still totally fun to play. It only quits being fun if you actually care whether you win or lose (hint: you don't actually win or lose anything, it's just a game).

All you need is day9 (0)

kikito (971480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362439)

www.day9.tv - Be a better gamer.

Re:All you need is day9 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362475)

But don't forget - Life begins here, so twist the cap to refreshment and open happiness!

www.coca-cola.com

Re:All you need is day9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362891)

Fine, mod me down for a little sarcastic humor and leave the blatant advert at +2.

Re:All you need is day9 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362957)

www.day9.tv - Be a better gamer.

Except on mondays when we dick around.

This seems plausible (3, Interesting)

masteva (996554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362469)

I've noticed while playing TF2 with some people who don't chat or speak during the game that they just... adapt. They know when you want that uber charge, they know when to sap the sentry, they know where they are needed. Granted this is with people I play with often and not new players, but it's rather neat seeing how they just seem to fit in where they need to without instruction, therefor, a better gamer.

Re:This seems plausible (1)

neonKow (1239288) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363153)

There are also lots of useful short voice message built into the game, like the 'e' button to call medic. Valve just did a great job making people's instincts and scores match up with being a good team player.

Re:This seems plausible (1)

Reapy (688651) | more than 2 years ago | (#39396973)

This. Good players are good players, they know what needs doing the same as you, when both people understand that they can take stock of the situation and take the most obvious path, supporting one another without needing to talk at all. Still if people play together often you can get the teamwork without as much skill.

On the age bit...some people are always bad at games no matter their age. The skill of the player base also collectivly goes up the longer a game is out...if you stop a while, more people get better, making your chances to play well decrease. Finally, older people generally have less consistant time to play and even fewer to practice specific skills. I dont really feel like at 32 my reflexes are poor vs 15, but more that it is harder to get a full nights sleep and have the time or even the desire to play games in a manner to be highly successful....screaming kids and good weather are beating out gaming time now a days.

Despite this amazing breakthrough... (0)

Dreth (1885712) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362499)

It's too bad playing HALO just makes you an overall bad person.

Hello Captainobvious (1)

HedgeBoar (1432905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362545)

This is common sense, established teams working together will always perform better than random teams. Especially when established teams balance roles and such... (MEDIC!!!!!)

Most multiplayer matchmaking systems have/had provisions for ages to match pre-arranged teams with other pre-arranged teams to avoid 'gank fests' for that very reason

It also makes you more of an asshole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362581)

People always act differently with their friends, usually for the worse.

not peer reviewed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362619)

This study was not peer reviewed so it should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Re:not peer reviewed (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363453)

And correlation != causation

The study should be taken as a pinch of study on a plate of salt.

Obviously! (2)

dskoll (99328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362795)

Because playing with yourself makes you blind.

Re:Obviously! (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#39364975)

Because playing with yourself makes you blind.

so, :. .: : :.". .:. .:. *sigh* . :. :. .: :. :

E4! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362927)

is the ultimate platform for the never heeded your own beer HAPPEN. 'AT LEAST sanctMions, and exactly what you've with the number [anti-slash.org] it. Its mission is

I disagree (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362993)

Their results would have been different had they chosen EVE Online instead of Halo...

Re:I disagree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363133)

Their results would have been different had they chosen EVE Online instead of Halo...

Researching this in EVE would be pointless. There are no friends in EVE, just killmails about to happen! :-P

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363155)

Yes, half of the subjects would have killed themselves rather than play "Excel: The Spaceships Edition"

Unnecessary Microsoft Plug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363923)

I'm at work, so I'll post as AC.

The study used the blockbuster FPS Halo: Reach.
For fucks sake, really? All that needed to be said was "used the FPS Halo: Reach".

This SO does not apply to me. (1)

s0nicfreak (615390) | more than 2 years ago | (#39365581)

I'm a lot more likely to troll a friend than I am a stranger.

In Halo 2, I use to always shoot my brother in the foot until he was near death. One time I didn't realize he was already near death, I shot him in the foot and he died. Now every time we play a shooting game together he says "Don't shoot me in the foot!" ...So I shoot him other places.

slashdot, going downhill since 2005 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39365723)

As usual, slashdot points out the obvious. I swear, the people who review these sumbissions are fucking monkeys.

That's fine, but... (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39366015)

Does it make you a better friend?

Wow (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39366861)

the fewer betrayals,

Obviously you didn't poll my friends. It's a freaking TK fest with the group I know.

Well.. (1)

Nukedoom (1776114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39366959)

Clearly you've never played League of Legends.

Hardly surprising, here is why... (1)

bobmajdakjr (2484288) | more than 2 years ago | (#39367693)

In all games that pair you with random players this is going to be true and it is quite obvious and hardly required in-depth research to discover. Take for example World of Warcraft. If I use the random dungeon finder to find random players instead of pulling people from my guild, I am much more likely to have no issues screwing people over since I will never see those random players ever again. *rolls need*

In some ways... maybe... (1)

jberg712 (1958276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39368171)

Gaming with friends... real friends.... not your (xbox live or PSN friends... because we all know how true those friendships really are) can help with some gaming skill. I have found they are more willing to stand idlely by if you are attempting maneuvers and try new things... and that's great and all, but you tend to pick up on your friends' maneuvers, hiding/camping spots... so then, they're much easier to predict. We all have our own style of playing and when you play with the same people, it becomes predictable over time. I find that playing with strangers (xbox live friends) helps improve skill a whole much more than with a friend because you're exposing yourself to different styles of game play and skills. Learning to adapt to other players i think helps out a gamers skill much more than just with a friend. Now if you're talking about team play with a friend, where you're playing with a friend or friends against a team of strangers, then that i believe has the same effect when it comes to team work in that sense. But i think it still falls under the same principle that gaming with strangers gives that variety of game play to learn to adapt too. For example, i used to be heavily involved in league and tournament bowling. When you bowl in the same house, you are able to get a good feel for the lanes, oil patterns, etc.. If all you do is bowl in the same house, it's much more difficult to adapt to the lane conditions in other houses... because they take care of them differently... especially in tournament play. I knew guys who averaged above 220 in the house they're used too, but could barely break a 140 in tournament play.

Hand Solo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39369679)

I have no friends to play with, so I just play with myself.

Also... (1)

SwampChicken (1383905) | more than 2 years ago | (#39373147)

....likely to make you laugh a lot more during the game (especially when you TK them)

However! (1)

Zintho (2598903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39407197)

Playing without friends makes you a real gamer.
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