Yesterday I posted an old article called Cybergame Players Need Coaches Too!, in which I discussed skill acquisition when playing video games. I know many amongst you feel that just playing SP games is enough. However, I feel you are wrong and would like to try and convince you.
Firstly, let’s separate skill and tactics. In any given situation you may know what you need to do to beat an opponent, either real or virtual, but you may not have the necessary ability. In the real world, this ability may be closely linked to you physical conditioning but probably not when playing video games, unless you play professionally or for many, many consecutive hours.
Here’s a specific example within gaming. Being able to circle an opponent and keep shooting at the head of that opponent is easy for some, harder for others. Unless we actually practice and analyse that action we are unlikely ever to have to do it enough in a real game to improve at it.
Let’s jump back to the real world for a moment. Imagine you play tennis. Now imagine you actually want to improve. You could just arrange games with other people of varying standards and at the beginning that would improve your game. However, just playing is never enough, just ask any professional sportsman! To really improve you must embark upon a planned path; a path where you have objectively assessed your strengths and weaknesses. That may seem like overkill for a casual gamer like you or me but it isn’t as hard as it sounds. Just play SP mods as you normally do and note down things when you notice yourself doing really well or badly..
Assuming you have decided you really want to improve you now need to go out a do it. The best way to find situations that you find challenging and play them, again and again. Of course finding those situations may not be that easy, which is where my mod idea comes in.
Imagine a mod, that literally only had various “rooms”, each designed to allow you to practice one or two aspects of gameplay. Let’s return to our circling example. This “room” could consist of a long series of rooms. Every room would have a progression of difficulty or other aspect. Firstly there would be a Metrocop surrounded by a railed circular channel. You move within this channel and fire at the Metrocop. The cop doesn’t fire back. In addition when you touch the rails of this channel there is a sound. This will help you ensure your movement is as smooth as possible. The progressions could take many forms, including the Metrocop firing back, the guard rails cause actual health damage to you etc.
The point is that this “room” focuses on one particular aspect of movement skill. Rooms could be built by many developers and added to the mod.
I actually think it would provide some interesting challenges to developers.
So to summarize, “doing” something is rarely enough to actually improve, at least not after you have been doing it a while. Unless you put yourself in specific situations that are designed to help you improve then it’s unlikely you will get much better.
I am sure we all agree we ARE much better players than when we first started, but a lot of that is to do with experience rather pure skill. I hate to admit it but I am not much of a better jumper than when I started and I am sure you can all find areas of your SP gaming where things could be improved.
Clearly this mod is never going to be made (unless I win the lottery) but if there were one would you use it?
Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t pay a little more attention to our gaming and make a small commitment to ourselves to becoming better players.