Like Gearscore, the Number Representing Your Intelligence is Probably Not Indicative of Your Ability

Do any of you remember that game IQ or Intelligent Qube for the Playstation 2? It was that game that had the blocks that were constantly rolling toward your character. You had to figure out how melt certain blocks in order to get past them so they'd run off the edge. The game got faster and more sinister as you went up in level. If I had to peg this game to something more people played, I would say Catherine without all the relationship issues. Here is a commercial.

Anyway, Intelligent Qube was a game that measured your ability to think and adapt. At the end, it gave you your IQ number based on how well you did. The idea that a number could represent your ability is nothing new to video games. World of Warcraft has a gear score built into a mathematical formula for raid difficulty. If the average gearscore of a normally distributed group is above the target number of the raid, then it is likely that you will be able to surpass that dungeon. Even before video games like WoW, pen and paper games used a leveling system to represent your abilities and each of these early numeric systems is still in use today for things like sports video games.

While somewhat useful in the systems for representing people, numbers like these are troublesome because the power of the people who set them essentially set a level that all people should be at. "Oh, your gear score isn't high enough for this dungeon? No, you can't come." "That player's awareness stat wouldn't be useful in my Madden Ultimate Team so no, I won't trade." "This Dungeons and Dragons Group requires a base level of at least 20. So, no, you can't join our group but we'll have a newbie table at the next con.

So do these numbers actually matter in the real world? The most essential numeric representation we have is IQ and now, thanks to the efforts of some researchers at the University of Western Ontario, we know that they are essentially worthless. 

To put things simply, these researchers tested 100,000 people around the world using 12 different tests that measured cognitive ability and brain scans. Dr. Adrian Owen, the study's senior investigator noted that, "When we looked at the data, the bottom line is the whole concept of IQ – or of you having a higher IQ than me – is a myth." General intelligence, he goes on to say, is not measurable using just one number.

Their reasoning, after looking at their data, is that there are 3 completely different networks that are smashed into a single numeric variable. Those areas, verbal, reasoning, and short term memory are in very different parts of the brain. The implications here are that things like Brain Age or brain training in general, are not effective.

One significant note that is relevant to games is that, "People who play video games performed “significantly better” in terms of both reasoning and short-term memory." 

If you'd like to see more about the study or take the tests they used to measure cognitive ability, head on over to Cambridge Brain Sciences.