All hard-core gaming fans, at some point, have probably wanted to give up work or study to become full-time gamers. It seems like the perfect job: playing games all day for money, and having a bunch of fans treat you like a rock star.
But becoming a successful professional ― as in any field ― is not something that can be taken for granted. In fact, recent scientific studies showed that professional gamers’ brains function differently than amateurs.
The documentary channel National Geographic recently ran a one-hour feature program on gaming, highlighting Korean professional gamers.
The video was produced by Right Angle Media, an independent documentary production company based in Singapore, and ICM, host of the World Cyber Games. The film documented Korean gamers, with a special focus on Seo Ji-hoon, who is currently a member of Korean pro-league team Entus.
The program was aired in Korea on Saturday at midnight, showing footage filmed over a period of eight months, with four months of editing. A considerable portion of the program focused on Seo’s personal life, such as his family, his fan clubs, and his team, G.O. (G.O was acquired by CJ Media a few months ago and its name changed to Entus.) Seo was the champion of the StarCraft tournament category.
Among the scientific tests that were conducted on Seo, one calculated his active response rate, recording the number of times Seo tapped a device ― such as a computer keyboard or mouse ― and comparing that with other people.
Most people average around 100 actions a minute but Seo averaged 370 a minute.
▶ A computer scan of the brain of professional game player Seo Ji-hoon, left, proved different than those of amateur players. This finding was part of an hour-long National Geographic documentary on cyber gamers. Provided by CJ Media
Also, computed tomography (CT) scans of Seo’s brains showed that the frontal lobe and limbic sections of his brain were active; those areas are in charge of memory, analytic reasoning and basic instinct. A CT scan of an a typical person’s brain ― such as that of an amateur game player ― however, showed that the part of the brain that regulates sight was active.
The documentary suggested that Seo’s actions were more like reflexive actions based on having memorized the keyboard, which was different than amateur players, whose actions were based on reasoning about what they saw.
by Wohn Dong-hee