Is Gaming Skill Genetic or Can It Be Learned? (A Look at the Evidence) Genetics vs. Practice


Gaming skill is a contentious area of interest and is something that has stirred up many serious debates over what it takes to be good at a game.

In fact, people are starting to ask whether being good and/or exceptional at games can be linked to your genes which would trump suggestions that you can practice to get better over time.

It would be a blow to many gamers out there to know that their efforts are in vain, whereby practicing for several hours each day won’t amount to much except for a few frustrating moments along the way.

Can we really be born with advantageous genetics and is it possible to overcome those handicaps that might hold us back?

Let’s take a look at some of the evidence.

The Evidence in Favor of Genetic Gaming Skill

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much data or studies produced surrounding the genetic link to gaming skill, however, several anecdotes seem to indicate that some people are simply able to “pick something up” whereas others might have to try something hundreds of times before they’re able to grasp it.

This could indicate many genetic factors at play (depending on what the task is) such as intelligence, motor skills, ability to implement forward planning, and other nuanced mental abilities.

We see the evidence for genetics playing a part in many other areas of life such as athletics, science, academia, and anywhere else that certain traits may play a role in giving you an advantage, for this reason, it’s hard to dispel the fact that this is probably the case for gaming skill too.

That doesn’t mean you can’t overcome certain challenges though and there is some evidence that says that practice can help too.

The Evidence in Favor of Practice

There’s been a comprehensive study produced surrounding the effect that practice has on gameplay, including a look at the routines that gaming “experts” perform to keep them ahead of the curve.

This study seems to suggest that practice has a notable impact on a player’s performance which would also conclude that you can get better with enough effort and repetition.

However, the study also concluded that individual skill does still play a part which would indicate that genetic factors could still be at play here i.e. someone might have a better approach to learning due to their brain structure or genetics.

With that said, it’s also worth noting that some combinations of personalities (where team play is concerned) might generally perform better with each other than others, so even if you weren’t the absolute best player alone, you might generate an overall net benefit because of who you are as a person whilst in a team.

Our takeaway from this is that gaming is as much a team effort as it is an individual effort (depending on the game you play) and that to get good, you’ll need to work with whatever traits or disadvantages you have and turn them into positive attributes.

Regular practice can definitely help you achieve your peak but genetics can also be a limiting factor in those efforts too.


The evidence is still scarce and it’s hard to say how much of a limiting factor genetics can be on an individual player’s skill ceiling, however, regular practice does seem to improve gaming performance regardless of the person.

We also believe that when playing in a team game, interpersonal skills, communication skills, and being able to foster a positive environment can trump your genetic limitations by helping the team (overall) outperform others.

As always, if you found this article informative or thought-provoking then make sure to save our homepage to your favorites.

We also have a dedicated section for video games and computing that explores similar questions to the one we’ve asked today.