The PsyOps research initiative was first and foremost about examining the link between play style and personality. However, during our analysis of play style and personality, we stumbled upon something interesting: age is strongly related to play style. The strength of the relationship between age and play style is such that we can “explain” about half your age based on how you play Battlefield 3. In statistical terms, that means play style makes a strong model of age. When we look at the correlations (relationships) between age and play style, we see some interesting (yet unsurprising) things happen.
Younger players kill and die more than older players. They also have a better aim (high accuracy) and a higher Kill-Death ratio. Naturally, this results in higher score per minute for every type of score (vehicle score, team score, etc.). There is however one notable exception: age has nothing to do with your objective score. Basically, older players score worse than younger players in every way, except when we look at the objective of the game. Also, older players play worse in terms of kills. Yet older players do not really lose more often than younger players. So, younger players are better, but older players PTFO (Play the F* Objective, a term popularized in the Battlefield3 community).
There is more to play style than only performance however. Older players turn out to invest more time in the game, as well as to prefer other classes and vehicles than younger players. Older players prefer tanks, while younger players prefer aircraft. Older players prefer the Support and Engineer classes, while younger players prefer the Assault and Recon classes.
All in all, it turns out age says a lot about how you play games. We suspect that this is due to life-time developments in our cognitive performance, personality, and motivations. As we grow older, we become more dutiful and responsible, but also slower and more careful.