Playing video games is a form of leisurely activity that provides fun, entertaining, and even meaningful experiences to players. Some of these video games also allow players to compete against one another, which gave rise to the advent of esports.

These games, more commonly known as esports titles, are so popular that both video game companies and third parties find it worthwhile to maintain a depository of publicly available information like rankings, total time played, metagaming, and so on.

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A Hearthstone tournament in progress.

But what if researchers could harness these data to understand how we can make teams more effective and cohesive in real life and at the workplace?

Meet team researcher and psychologist Evelyn Tan, who did her PhD on video games to not only look at the dynamics within a team but also observe the sort of interactions that make a team function well.

 
Evelyn Tan wanted to understand how teams in the workplace work well. Pic courtesy of 100 Scientists of Malaysia.

“I was really interested in understanding how teams in the workplace work well and what makes those teams work well. But it is hard to get information about real-world teams. It is difficult to collect real-world data, especially when it comes to team interactions,” said Tan in a post that was published on the 100 Scientists of Malaysia Facebook page on Wednesday.

Tan, who holds a PhD in computer science, said she decided to turn to team-oriented video games like League of Legends, Dota 2, Portal and Overwatch as they contained publicly available game data that allowed her to understand how the dynamics in a team influenced team outcomes.

Stills from the gameplay reveal of Overwatch 2 at Blizzcon 2019
Stills from the gameplay reveal of Overwatch 2 at Blizzcon 2019

“In my most recent experiment, I looked at 2-person teams of strangers playing Portal (a puzzle-solving game). I recorded their gameplay, and keyboard and mouse activity of each team. I analyzed the communication between players during the study,” said Tan, an organizational psychologist who took a keen interest in workplace psychology.

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“Using this kind of dataset, I can ask questions like what was the communication about? How much did one person speak? What was the level of experience of each player and did it affect the way that they communicated? What might that tell us about the climate in the team? Was the interaction between the players, mostly positive, helpful and productive, or was there one person commanding someone else (at the expense of the other player)?”

<h3>1. Portal 2</h3>Portal 2 claims the top spot (for the final year on this list before it ages out) because, in the past decade, nothing else has struck so many chords so perfectly and accomplishes so much so well. Its impeccable level design, charming personality, and exceptional and varied puzzle systems make us feel smarter just for getting through it. Plus, its co-op campaign requires a different sort of collaborative smarts, and that helps it remain one of the best multiplayer experiences you can share with a pal around.<br /> Valve is a developer that, presumably because of the time it takes to make its incredible games, creates a feeling of timelessness in its design. Portal 2 – which iterated on and added to the brilliant, mind-bending puzzles and world-building of its short but sweet predecessor – feels just as clever and unique as it did in 2011. Simply put, if you’ve never played Portal 2, your top gaming priority right now should be to do just that. <br /><br /><i><a  data-cke-saved-href=

Tan said by looking for behavioural indicators, which are possible to capture through gameplay data from video games, her work could be applied to real-world teams that had similar characteristics.

“Some examples would be emergency response teams and firefighting teams, anything with a fast-paced action-oriented environment. These high-risk teams could benefit from this kind of research because they face similar challenges to teams in video games, especially in competitive team-based games.”

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ESL Women’s Sydney Open.

Tan, who is currently attached to the Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence at the University of York in the United Kingdom, said multiplayer games have also encouraged players to strike up friendships with their fellow gamers, especially during the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“Multiplayer games can support rich social connections, either through friendships formed through gaming or getting support from the gaming community. We know that strong community support is generally related to better mental wellbeing, and we are also seeing this in gaming communities,” she said, adding that 23 million new friendships were made on Xbox Live servers between the months of March and April this year.

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Cover photo courtesy of 100 Scientists of Malaysia.



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