NCBI ROFL: Blue is for losers.

By ncbi rofl | October 19, 2009 3:00 pm

Better to be red than blue in virtual competition.

“In the 2004 Olympic Games, opponents wearing red athletic uniforms were more likely to win against opponents wearing blue uniforms. To investigate whether this color bias extends to the world of virtual competition, we compared the performance of red and blue teams in a popular multiplayer first-person-shooter (FPS) computer game. For 3 consecutive months, we collected data from a publicly available global statistics server. Outcomes from 1,347 matches played by the top 10 players on the same virtual arena were included. Red teams won 54.9% of matches, and this effect was highly significant. Our data suggest that joining the red team may offer a slight advantage over the blue team in virtual competition, and this should be accounted for when designing FPS games. It is likely that “seeing red” may trigger a powerful psychological distractor signal in human aggressive competition that can affect the outcome of sports and virtual contests alike.”

Thanks to Anders for today’s ROFL!

  • Anonymous

    Which FPS is studied? I can't find the full text of the article, so I can't tell if they controlled for map and role symmetry or not (for instance, in TF2, the defender is Red, and the attacker is Blue).

  • Mer

    From the M&M:
    "From the popular FPS games, we selected Unreal Tournament 2004 (UT2004), developed by Epic Games, Inc. (Raleigh, N.C.), and published by Atari, Inc. (New York, N.Y.). We found UT2004 particu- larly suitable for our study because each virtual “gladiator” (controlled by the player) can be cus- tomized with red or blue team colors and because it offers a publicly available anonymous statistics site ( We fo- cused our attention on the simplest and oldest game type: “Team Deathmatch” in which the team that kills the most enemy players is judged the winner."

  • Julia

    It's worth noting that the all-time results of the Cal vs. Stanford football games perfectly reflect these results.

  • MNiceLady

    Does that mean Dems are losers?


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About ncbi rofl

NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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