If you're over the age of 24, brace yourself before reading on: Simon Fraser University researchers have some gloomy news for you. As the Canadian school's press release puts it, "Study says we're over the hill at 24." The statement spins from a new study on cognitive motor performance, which had the researchers use statistical modeling to analyze the game-play success of 3,305 StarCraft 2 players, ages 16 to 44. They reviewed thousands of hours of cognitive-based moves across all skill levels, essentially tracking the players' responses to their rivals and the amount of time it took them to make those responses.
And it's not casual game play: StarCraft 2 is a "ruthless competitive intergalactic computer war game that players often undertake to win serious money" and a game that's of interest to psychologists for the same reasons chess and bridge are, notes their paper, in PLOS ONE. What the psychology and statistics doctoral students and an adviser found: Even at high levels of skill, after about age 24, "players show slowing in a measure of cognitive speed that is known to be important for performance." But don't panic, reports the Washington Post. Older players may be slower, but they're smarter: The data showed they were more prone to use short cuts or intricate commands to give them an advantage. Essentially, they're more effective, and are still able to win. (A 2011 study found more bad news for those past their mid-20s.)