It's better to be on the red team than on the blue team in an online multiplayer shooting game, according to researchers.
The scientists studied the outcomes of 1,347 matchups between elite teams playing "Unreal Tournament 2004," a so-called first-person shooter game. The main activity in the game is running around and shooting at the avatars of the opposing team.
As is the case with most team-based online shooting games, players of Unreal Tournament can choose to be on either the red team or the blue team, and their avatars wear those colors. But that choice is not as neutral as it seems: 55 percent of the time, the red team won, according to the study published this week in the journal Cyberpsychology & Behavior.
Neuroscientist Mihai Moldovan of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark said the reason was most likely that the color red may act as a psychological distractor for men, possibly because men flush and turn red when they're angry.
"While this is really an interesting analysis, the notion of red team versus blue team has been ingrained in the Unreal Tournament series for years. We don't anticipate any immediate changes to team colors," said Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games, the Cary, N.C.-based developer of the series.
Another study found in 2005 that wearing red is an advantage in real-life sports. British scientists found that athletes wearing red in one-on-one events like wrestling at the 2004 Olympics were more likely to win.
The game results for the Unreal Tournament study were culled from public servers used by players around the world. Moldovan worked with researchers at the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Bucharest, Romania, on the study.