Research shows that the games we play reflect our culture

November 25, 2021 09:46 STI

Berlin [Germany], November 25 (ANI): In a new study using historical data, researchers from Germany (Leipzig, Jena, Gera) and Australia attempted to answer the question of whether the games played by different cultures correspond to their degree of cooperation.
The results of the study were published in the journal “PLoS ONE”.
“If you live in Germany, there’s a good chance you’ve played a competitive game,” said Sarah Leisterer-Peoples, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.
“We believe that the games could reflect aspects of human cultures, such as the competitiveness and cooperation of cultures,” Leisterer-Peoples added.
Previous research suggests that in socially hierarchical cultures, or those with differences in status and wealth, competitive games are played frequently. And the opposite has also been suggested: in egalitarian cultures, or those with little or no differences in status and wealth, games tend to be more cooperative.
However, previous studies have only investigated this relationship in a small handful of cultures, thus limiting the scope of this claim.
First, the research team sorted through a database of historical games played by cultures located in the Pacific.
“The cultures in our study lived in a wide geographic range, spanning the Pacific Ocean. The cultures were very diverse, but also shared similarities, which allows for comparison across several aspects of cultures,” said Leisterer-Peoples.
For example, when two groups live side by side, they may share some characteristics, such as how they get their food, but they may differ in other aspects, such as the norms surrounding competitive behavior.
“We have tried to refine these differences while taking into account their similarities,” said Leisterer-Peoples.

Second, the scientists identified the characteristics of the crops that indicate how cooperative they could be.
“One of the difficulties with historical data is that you can’t go back in time to interview people from different cultures, but have to rely on the historical documentation of those cultures,” Leisterer-Peoples said.
For example, they examined how socially hierarchical cultures were structured, how often members of a cultural conflict with each other, how often cultures conflict with other cultures, and how often group members hunt and fish in a group.
“These are real world proxies for cooperative behavior,” Leisterer-Peoples said.
Ultimately, they were able to identify 25 cultures that had readily available historical information on both the games they played and relevant cultural characteristics.
Researchers have found that cultures that frequently engage in conflict with other cultures have more cooperative games than competitive games. On the other hand, cultures with frequent conflicts with members of their own community have more competitive games than cooperative games. The degree of social hierarchy of cultures and the fact that they fished and hunted in groups were not reliably related to the types of games played.
“These findings may not be intuitive at first glance, but make sense in light of theories about the evolution of cooperation in cultural groups. In times of conflict with other cultures, group members should cooperate with each other. with each other and compete with their opponents, ”explained Leisterer-People.
“This is reflected in the types of games that are played – games with competing groups. And when there is a lot of conflict between the members of a group, they tend to play competitive games. These results suggest that the games we play reflect the socio-ecological characteristics of the culture we live in, ”added Leisterer-Peoples.
Games mimic real-world behavior and can be an avenue in which group norms are learned and practiced during childhood.
“Science lives on replicating previous findings. It is important that future studies investigate this finding further, especially in other parts of the world and in modern cultures. We do not know if this effect is still relevant in gaming culture today. Nowadays, store-bought games and video games have overtaken the traditional games that children played in their spare time. Future studies will also need to investigate the specific skills acquired through games, not just the degree of cooperation in games, ”said Leisterer-Peoples.
“This is only the beginning of studies of games across cultures. There is a lot more to discover,” Leisterer-Peoples concluded. (ANI)

James C. Tibbs