In two recent projects researchers made interesting use of games as data sources for their studies.
Researchers with the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan studied the brains of Shogi players as part of their investigation in to strategic decision-making. With the moves in Shogi easily classified as either offensive or defensive, the researchers were able to use magnetic resonance imaging to determine that one area towards the front of the brain is responsible for defensive strategies and a different area towards the back is responsible for offensive strategies.
Deeper statistical analysis of the experienced players’ brain activity also revealed that the level of activity was dependent on the quality of the game moves.
In a study of a different sort, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles used Chess to examine the nature of fame. They compared the Elo rating of 371 Chess players (all grandmasters and international masters born 1901-1943) to the number of hits returned in a Google search of their names—a proxy for a player’s degree of fame. The results indicate that fame increases exponentially with achievement.