From Chess To Pokémon, Does Strategy Influence Victory… - subsaint Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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From Chess To Pokémon, Does Strategy Influence Victory…

Chess...is an amazing game. It's hard to fathom the original incarnation of chess dates back to the 6th century and the revised version we know today was created around the 15th century. We talk about being gamers today, but truly there have been gamers since the earliest days of civilization.

With only 64 squares arranged in an 8 by 8 grid and only 32 pieces in play, 16 pieces per player, it's amazing how much time and strategy goes into playing the game. There are limited possibilities each turn, yet players can spend minutes upon minutes contemplating their strategy and what each move and possible subsequent moves are the wisest. If you play only considering the immediate move the match will probably be a short one. One wrong move can be the difference between victory and defeat - every possibility has to be considered.

If you play chess, chances are you have had some very tense moments. You know the ones...you move your piece considering the ramifications of your movement, not releasing your grip on your piece until you're absolutely sure it's the move you want to make. And even when you finally let go of your piece, there is that moment of hope...hope you didn't make a stupid move and miss something obvious.

Chess is a classic. Hard to compare it to a modern era video game, yet there are some similarities. They're both generally played as a source of entertainment. There is a winner and loser (and sometimes a stalemate, or draw). And strategy can often be a big part of game play ultimately influencing the outcome.

When you think of strategy as it relates to video games, what do you think of?

Many might immediately think of Real Time Strategy (RTS) games, since clearly strategy is a vital component for that genre. We hear terms like Zerg Rush and Turtling - both are types of strategy. I tend to play a lot of shooters, and strategy can even come into play in these games. Sometimes the strategy is as simple as choosing a particular weapon or occupying a certain spot on the map. Other times the strategy is complex, requiring the team work and coordination you'd expect out of a military operation.

Of all the games I've ever played or watched someone else play, I don't know that I have ever seen one requiring the amount of strategy that Pokémon does. Now, before the fans of the series start asking me questions or challenging me to a battle...AND...before the haters of the series ridicule my mention of the game and demand I surrender my gamer card, let me at least make a few comments about the game.

I know nothing about Pokémon.

Oh sure, I could probably tell you the name of two or three of them, but that's about the extent of it.

I know there are different types, but can't tell you any of them.

Oh sure, I could probably guess a few like Earth Wind and Fire (that's a joke for the old people).

I know there are different moves and attacks, but I can't tell you any of them.

And that's...the truth.

So if I know nothing about the game, how do I claim it's an exceptional strategy game?

Ah, because even though I know none of the things mentioned above, my son does.

He knows all of the Pokémon; he knows all of the types; and he knows all of their attacks.

Don't ask me where he learned it from, because I sure didn't teach it to him. He plays the game online with real life opponents, and does rather well. Don't ask which version or color or anything like that, because I have no idea what any of that means. But I have watched his battles on a number of occasions because I'm fascinated with his ability to predict what his opponents are going to do. Maybe this is nothing to brag about - maybe it's something all good Pokémon players are capable of. Or maybe he is an amazing strategist.

There is a lot of strategy (and a lot of luck) that goes into planning and conducting a Pokémon battle.

Even before the match begins the strategy starts. Even if you know nothing about Pokémon it's fairly easy to comprehend different types of Pokémon means there will be some advantages and disadvantages when certain types encounter other types. But when you consider building a team with all different types of Pokémon, and then picking their movements and attacks, the possibilities and complexities are seemingly endless; certainly a lot more challenging options than a game of chess. At least in chess you know how many pieces there are and what they are capable of.

While watching my son engage in a Pokémon battle, he always seems to narrate his strategy to me...and I'm amazed at how often he can predict his opponents move and prepare a counter attack well before it even happens. He doesn't just anticipate what moves his opponent is going to make - he anticipates what move they're expecting him to make. But, they take that into consideration and adjust, and then he does too...and before you know it...he's several levels deep trying to predict what they're going to do next. And usually does.

I know most gamers (I certainly didn't) probably don't think of Pokémon as a "strategic" game - some might even consider it a kids game, but I don't know if that's a fair assessment. If you're at all interested in a tactical game forcing you to try and predict your opponent's next move and you're looking for something a little different than chess, I wouldn't necessarily discount Pokémon without trying it first. You might just learn how complex the game really is and how a good strategy can almost guarantee victory.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

I never really considered myself a strong strategic player, but I'm quickly learning the importance a good plan, solid tactics and knowing as much about my adversary as I do my self. I'd like to think playing chess helped with that, but I know overseeing some Pokemon battles also had an impact.

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