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The mindset of game improvement

Do you find yourself improving to a great extent when you play a game?

That may sound like a silly question (and actually, it is), but there's an interesting mindset in how we improve, as well as how much.  How much of a challenge are we willing to take on to become better?  Or do we get lulled into our complacent mode, having fun with a game but beating it fairly easily because we're not challenging ourselves much?

I saw this interesting Talk Radar article on Twitter today, and had to check it out.  Written by Matthew Keast, it's called "Change the Way You Think to Get Better at Games" and it talks about how we think about improvement.

It's actually quite interesting (and quite long, but well worth the read).

"I went from thinking I knew everything about a genre, to realizing I knewnothing, and a new world opened up. See, getting better at games isn’t just about feeding your ego or conquering arbitrary, meaningless goals. It makes games more fun. It makes them deeper, richer experiences. The great part, though, is that you can take this challenge as far as you want. The moment a game stops being fun because you’re too focused on getting better, you can dial it back and enjoy yourself.

So with this guide, I encourage you to cherry pick the things you want to do. Try them out, and don’t do them if you don’t find them fun. "

What really attracted my eye was his first point:

"One mode of thinking that will absolutely hinder your ability to improve is to point at what others are doing and say “That is not skillful. I am better than them because I don’t do the cheap, skillless thing they rely on.” Now, grenade spamming may or may not be skillful, but worrying about such things is a waste of your time. What you should worry about is how to adapt to grenade spam instead of crying about it. Crying about it is a mental wall that once built, actually reduces your ability to adapt to the thing that annoys you."

I *hate* terms like "Noob-tube" and stuff like that.  Yeah, people who grenade-spam can be annoying, but figure out a way to beat them and make them regret grenade-spamming.  Don't b*tch and moan about it on some forum.  

There are legitimate issues, of course (like those Akimbo shotguns in MW2 before that got toned down), but for the most part, they're only killing you because you're not thinking of a way around it.

In his section called "Play to Win", Keast says this:

"Again, though, you don’t have to take the playing to win mentality all the way. Take it as far as you want, because of course you still want to have fun playing. If a game is truly designed well, though, playing to win should make the game more fun because all the cheap tactics will have counters, and then the counters will have counters. So instead of wasting your energy declaring something cheap, instead devote that energy in finding a way to counter it. Not only will it make you a better player, but it will make those cheap things you hate less annoying or even downright laughable as you employ counter tactics that crush the supposed cheap maneuver."

I found myself nodding my head in agreement.

I'm not coming at this from the angle of being a so-called "good gamer."  In fact, I am the complete opposite of the guys he talks about who suffer from the "Dunning-Kruger Effect":

"The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their own ability as above average, much higher than in actuality; by contrast, the highly skilled underrate their abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to a perverse result where less competent people will rate their own ability higher than more competent people."

I am unskilled (at least at shooters) and I *know* I'm unskilled.  There is no illusion about it.  But I'm not whining about it, either (though I do curse at the moment I get killed, I'm generally over it by the time I respawn).

The rest of the article is very interesting too.  I haven't totally processed it, so I'm not sure if I'm in total agreement or not (I don't do as he suggests in regards to playing the "Hard" mode, for instance), but it does provoke some thought.

What do you think?

And as penance for linking to another gaming site, I'll make sure my next blog post is about something posted on GI.

(And dang it, where are my blockquotes????)