The popularity of multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games provides an opportunity to examine how cognitive skills are linked with changes in player performance within a team-based game genre. There is evidence that video game experience in other genres is connected with specific cognitive skills such as visuospatial attention and working memory capacity. Links have also been observed outside of video games such as numerical intelligence being correlated with the performance of chess experts. In the present study, we investigated whether numerical and working memory ability measured at an initial time-point predicted changes in MOBA skill and gameplay frequency measured five months later. We observed that participants who scored higher on a number processing task had greater improvements in MOBA skill and that this link depended on the social context of the gameplay. Specifically, numerical skill was linked to player rankings generated from matches where they were paired with random individuals; no connection was observed with gameplay that took place with a familiar set of teammates. The results of the present study extend previous research indicating video gameplay is linked to specific cognitive skills, in the case of MOBAs being numerical processing. We suggest that the difference in the connection with number ability to gameplay with novel and familiar players is in line with evidence that the importance of individual performance and the sense of achievement can be reduced in team settings. We suggest that future research should examine what types of quantitative abilities are indicative of MOBA skill and the impact of those factors relative to social skills.
The paper is available here.