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Research determines whether to play a game that corresponds to how cooperative the culture is

This figure shows the categories of games in terms of how cooperative and competitive they are. The green box indicates a cooperative game, the red box indicates a competitive game, and the blue box indicates a single game. In the figure, each dot is a player. Dotted lines indicate competitive interactions, solid lines indicate cooperative interactions between players, and no lines indicate no interactions between players. Credits: © Leisterer-Peoples et al. (2021), License: CC-BY 4.0

Play is important for the development of complex social, emotional, physical, and cognitive skills. Play provides a safe space for young people to practice new behaviors without significant impact. Most animals engage in play, but only humans engage in rule-based games. What kind of game people play (competitive or cooperative) can depend on their cultural background. In a new study PLoS ONEResearchers in Germany and Australia screened historical data to answer the question of whether to play a game that corresponds to how cooperative the culture is.


People around the world play games, but games are not played equally across cultures around the world. Humans can use games to store culturally unique information and teach it to members of the community. For example, was it the last cooperative game, competitive game, or game you played yourself? “If you live in Germany, it’s likely that you played competitively. gameSarah Reisterler Peoples, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, said, “I suspect that games may reflect aspects of human culture, such as cultural competitiveness and cooperation. I am. “

According to previous research, competitive games are often played in socially hierarchical cultures, or cultures of different positions and wealth. The reverse is also suggested. In a culture of egalitarianism, or in a culture where there is little or no difference in status or wealth, games tend to be more supportive. However, previous studies have investigated this relationship in only a handful of cultures, limiting the breadth of this claim. In a new study using historical data, researchers in Germany (Leipzig, Jena, Gera) and Australia sought to answer the question of how cooperative the game culture is.

Historical perspective on Pacific culture and the games they played

In the first step, the research team categorized a database of historical games played by cultures located in the Pacific Ocean. “Our research culture lived in a wide geographic area across the Pacific Ocean. The culture was very diverse, but also shared similarities that allowed us to compare several aspects of the culture. “Leisterer-Peoples says. For example, if two groups live next to each other, they may share some characteristics, such as how to obtain food, but may differ in other aspects, such as the norms surrounding competitive behavior. I have. “We tried to focus on these differences, taking into account their similarities,” says Leisterer-Peoples.

In the second step, scientists identified cultural characteristics that indicate how cooperative the culture is. “One of the difficulties Historical data You can’t go back in time to interview people from different cultures, but you have to rely on historical documents from these cultures, “says Leisterer-Peoples.

For example, how often they are building a socially hierarchical culture. culture How often they conflict with each other, how often cultures conflict with other cultures, and how often group members hunt and fish in groups. “These are real-world proxies for collaborative action,” says Leisterer-Peoples. Ultimately, they were able to identify 25 cultures with readily available historical information in both the games played and the cultural characteristics associated with them.

The game imitates the actual behavior

Researchers have found that there are more cooperative games than competitive games in cultures that are in frequent conflict with other cultures. On the other hand, a culture that frequently conflicts with members of the community has more competitive games than cooperative games. How socially hierarchical the culture was, and whether they fished or hunted in groups, was certainly not related to what kind of game was played.

“These discoveries may not seem intuitive at first glance, but they make sense in the light of the theory of the evolution of cooperation in cultural groups. When in conflict with other cultures, group members cooperate with each other and enemies. This is reflected in the type of game you play, that is, the game with competing groups. Also, if there is a lot of competition among the members of the group, they will play a competitive game. They tend to play. These findings are the socio-evolutionary characteristics of the culture in which the games we play are the culture in which we are, “says Leisterer-Peoples. Games mimic real-life behavior and can be a way to learn and practice group norms as a child.

“Science lives through duplication of previous discoveries. It is important for future research to further investigate this discovery, especially in other parts of the world and in modern culture. This effect is still relevant to today’s gaming culture. I don’t know if I’m doing it. Today, the games and video games I bought in the store outperformed the traditional games that were played in my child’s free time. In future research, only the degree of cooperation in the game Instead, we need to investigate the specific skills we’ve learned through the game, “says Leisterer. people. “This is just the beginning of research on transcultural games. There is much more to reveal.”


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For more information:
Games and Culture: Intercultural Analysis of Collaborative Goal Structures in Austronesian Games, PLoS ONE, DOI: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0259746

Provided by
Max Planck Society

Quote: The survey will determine whether to play a game that corresponds to how cooperative the culture is (2021, November 24).

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Research determines whether to play a game that corresponds to how cooperative the culture is

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