What it Takes To Be a Good Gamer Pt. 1 - Guest Post by Nobody

Gaming is currently on the move to becoming accepted by the majority of people, not just as a form of entertainment but potentially as a career, as we see big cities now adopting teams to sponsor for eSports. It is also a means to fill in certain education gaps, train personnel, and also as a tool to express and understand ourselves as individuals. If we look at modern sci fi we can get a glimpse into potential realities of the future and gaming as producers writers and directors follow the extremes of certain trends and ideas like overpopulation leading to VR games being our only way to experience a world that's not completely covered in black top. Potentially an entire job industry is opening up where social life can exist completely in game and jobs are produced in games by moderators and could eventually become a full cast of characters that replace npcs in the varied and popular mmorpgs. We have already seen the potential of gaming commerce through games like Ultima online and WoW. Through the use of eBay back in early 2000 there was an explosion of people exchanging in game money and resources for real world money. This caused quite a stir and was quickly addressed by the powers that be, causing immediate reprogramming to create restrictions, prevent exchanges of items between characters, and in some causes legal action was taken to stop it. I say this to show the potential gaming may one day have on the economy, with the rise of bitcoin and crypto-currency the idea of gaming currency becoming a part of our lifestyles is not so far off, and could technically be re-instituted tomorrow. With this in mind, gaming currency and the rise of eSports, it’s become much more pressing on some individuals to put more effort into becoming a better gamer. So what does it take to enter into this competitive world and set yourself apart. In all honesty it’s the same things that set you apart in real life, at least in my opinion. So here are my thoughts on how to improve your chances.

 It’s easy to say a good attitude is a major part of becoming a good gamer, lots of people before me have said just that. What does a good attitude mean though, what is involved in having a good attitude? I enjoy breaking things down into their elementary parts and then putting it back together to gain a better understanding of the big picture, and attitude is a big picture idea. So let’s break down the many parts that make up the larger concept of a good attitude. 

First and foremost is self assessment, you’re not going to get anywhere in gaming or in anything else in life for that matter if as an individual you can not judge your own progress. We tend to or perhaps are trained to (conspiracy theory? My bad.) seek out judgement from others, be it in the form of test scores, or performance evaluations at work, and even just how we look. We are always trying to get someone else to tell us where we are at. Going to someone else for their opinion isn’t a bad thing in general, it’s good to get an outside opinion. The bad part is the utter dependence on outside sources to determine our current. We should be able to tell pretty easily and quickly how good or bad we are at something. It’s as simple as reading your feedback. 

Just a quick example, when you first start a game and are learning it you're generally obviously pretty bad at it. As you learn it’s not hard to tell you're improving by the fact that it gets easier as you go, and so the challenges in the game and how hard it is for you to accomplish them immediately give you the feedback you need to determine how you're doing. Then take this same feedback and use it to determine how easily you learn a new game. This can give you an idea of which games you're good at naturally, but you need to consider the difficulty of the game overall as well. This is where 3rd parties are useful by seeing how you compare to other players and how they struggle with a game, but you're not relying on their judgement of your skill, merely comparing to get an idea of your own performance. You're weighing your own progress against the difficulty of the game by using 3rd parties as examples of how hard the game may be and how far others have pushed the limits. This is using your own brain to come to a conclusion instead of allowing someone else to think and do the work for you by asking them to judge you. This makes you a more balanced player mentally, it allows you to take what others say with grain of salt as the saying goes. Instead of being tugged back and forth between what 2 or more different experts (authority figures) say you can take what you need from any and all including yourself and blend it all together without potentially being crushed by the so called experts criticism. Also if you know you're bad, when someone tells you you're bad it’s not gonna touch you because you have already accepted the truth of your skill, as opposed to the painful reminder of how bad you;re lying to yourself and trying to deny the truth of your skill. This is where hurt feelings and tilting and most of the negative aspects of gaming attitude comes from. The denial of the truth of your ability and lying to yourself. 

Self assessment is about being honest with yourself and this is important for the above reason of not tilting or being hurt by the reality of your ability but it also plays a much more vital role...getting better. The simple fact is if you suck at a game but convince yourself your gods gift blaming everything but yourself for losses and failures you will never try to improve because you think you're already a master. The only thing that will get better is your ability to find excuses to blame something else. However if you're honest with yourself and you know you need to improve you can truly begin training. You know you need to get better and hopefully you know your weakest point to improve. Honesty is critical for this, and when you're willing to accept your ineptitude and faults it becomes much easier to be honest with yourself, and much less painful to deal with toxicity from other players, who more often than not are only toxic because of their own insecurity. This is simple in theory but in reality it is a pretty difficult step to accept one’s flaws, there is a lot of fear associated with weakness so most people pretend it doesn't exist, this only makes it worse. It is strength to recognize one's limits, only in doing so can a person better themselves and learn to push those limits as far as they can go.

Which brings us to the mental state for training. This portion requires willpower and discipline, and both of these rest squarely on the back of motivation. Why bother training if you're not committed to it, and why commit if there is no valid reason for it. I have played and trained in a lot of games. I sometimes look at the hours I have spent on games, like 230 hours plus on tales of Vesperia and wonder why did i waste my time? Many people would agree it was a waste of time and life. Or was it? For one it was entertainment, which last I knew is probably the second (second only to military industry) most profitable business in america and for good reason. Musicians, actors/actresses, athletes, and writers are some of the highest paid people, so don’t judge my preferred entertainment as you gossip about the latest tv show and movies. Part of the video game entertainment is the challenge, and it's why I have chosen it as my preferred entertainment. 

My Vesperia journey currently has me on what's literally called “unknown” difficulty. It's quite challenging and pushes me to use every bit of game knowledge and strategy I have to overcome even simple battles, including tactical retreat which I never had to do on the other difficulties. It’s a puzzle as most games are, and victory requires solving the puzzle. It’s all mental gymnastics, unless you “cheat” but I will cover “cheating” later. All the effort I put into a game provides great returns for me in practical problem solving in many varieties as well as discipline and willpower. Many of the readers I am sure have come up against a boss that was really tough to beat or a jump puzzle that seemed impossible (why does ultimate chicken horse come to mind?) and through willpower stuck it out, perhaps failing hundreds of times, running through it over and over until finally that moment when you finally figure out the puzzle and combine it with button punching perfection to complete an amazing dance, or perhaps just clumsily luck your way through surviving with 1 hp left. It takes determination.

 I may be in the minority but I bring this same determination and puzzle solving to bear on every problem I face in life. I use the skills I have learned in gaming every day at my job. I learned to type fast because when online games first started on pc there was no voice chat and everyone typed, and you typed fast or died. I learned how to manage time because of triggers for doors that slam shut if you're not fast enough, and shooting, dodging, and weapon change patterns. I learned to manage resources in games ranging from resident evil and its scarce bullets to games like Sim City and Sim Earth. I learned logistics running roman empires and colonizing planets. Sure it's not exactly real life but a lot of the principles are very similar and excellent starts for dealing with the real world problem solving skills you need. Was it a waste, not in my opinion. If I hadn’t been training my focus on games for hours on end extending my mental stamina could I be able to focus on problems in real life that extend to days and weeks at my job? I find it unlikely. I view every game as a method and means of learning something new, or as a test of my problem solving ability, or an exploration of myself and bring it all back to real life. It's not a perfect translation, you can't learn martial arts playing a fighting game but you can learn to adapt more quickly to different opponents rhythms which is an important part of martial arts. So there is some reasoning behind why it's worth the time and effort. Oh yeah let’s not forget what I learned from the most popular of all games….Tetris, I learned how to pack a moving truck. If cup stacking is considered an important learning tool then how much more so are games that challenge us.

So if it's not a waste of time then training can begin in earnest. Training revolves around experimentation, which is the basis of the scientific method, and determination. If you're going to work to improve you must be prepared to fail over and over and over again. Just accept it, failure is a natural part of learning. All the anxiety and pain that goes along with failure needs to be let go during training. It’s training for a reason. Don’t let things like competitive or ranked mode fool you into thinking it's important. It’s not. If it doesn't affect the real world like say a tourny for prizes, then it’s only training. Ranked and competitive are just the next level of training. So it gives you a grade, other than being able to brag about how awesome you are it’s completely meaningless. What has meaning is your personal progress, and these rankings may give you some idea of where you are at, it is far from an accurate assessment of skill, esp when it comes to team based games. If you’re not willing to accurately assess your abilities and progress you won’t be able to muster the determination of the grind that training can become or learn how best to train yourself. If you don’t know your weaknesses how will you know what to train. 

Experimentation goes hand in hand with this, as you must be open to new ideas or you become predictable, mechanical, and miss out on innovation or new strategies. Let’s use Armored Core as an example. Armored core V is a mech based game that has a high level of customization. You get ranked on each mission, S rank being highest. It's not too hard to clear a mission but to clear it with an S rank is a major challenge. First you have to know your enemy and their weaknesses. Then you have to design your mech accordingly to exploit those weaknesses, and you have to have the technical skill to to actually out play your enemy (timing, aim, and use of environment). Lack any of the above and you walk away with just A rank instead of S. So when you fail you have to go through the check list, did I assess the enemy right? No … reassess enemy based on new information. Or yes so move on to the next question, was it my mech? Yes then back to the drawing board and design a new mech and start over. No not your mech then it must be your skill. The theory seems sound and I know it's the right combo it should have worked but it didn’t so that means I just suck. Okay no big deal there’s only so many variables in this fight, did I use cover, did I miss a a lot, oh wait it was my dodge timing. I took just a little too much damage. Ok trying again...fail reassess, nope still me I still suck, try again, rinse repeat, rinse repeat YESSSS!!!!!!! VICTORY IS MINE!!!!! The satisfaction of self improvement is sorely overlooked in the rush for victory, and without self improvement the quest for a win quickly gets out of reach. Every gain in your training, every little step in the process, every drop in the enemies hp from the last go should be celebrated as a minor victory, not focusing on another loss. Focusing on losing is a downward spiral, focusing on gains is how you rise up. Every loss is a lesson and every little step forward is a victory. 

When training properly you're tempering your ego, balancing it. The term tilting applies to gamers for a reason, if you start accepting loss, failure, and defeat as a matter of course for your progress it will have less and less impact on your momentum and will eventually come to propel you forward instead of being a set back. There is another side of tilting few ever discuss, I mean, if you can tilt one way why wouldn't you be able to tilt the other way. The other side of this coin is cockiness and causes just as many if not more problems as rage. Cockiness often leads to showboating and trash talk and a lot of negatives associated with gaming. Sure you can say don't do those things it's just rude, but like with all other forms of respect the true reason behind it is to avoid self destructive patterns.

 It has been my experience that those who are cocky (tilted in one direction) are the quickest to rage quit (tilt in the other direction). This is true for the reasons stated above about accepting or inability to accept the reality of one's ability. But why is this so bad, if you can be cocky you're obviously real good right? Maybe, maybe not. You may have reached above average standing due to natural skill but this has become the cap, once physical skill is established it becomes a mental game, ie strategy, innovation, and focus. One if my favorite funny moments in my gaming history is in league of legends. I was an amatuer mid laner having mained support, I understood the game and techniques in general but solo mid lane specific tactics were still new to me for that lane, but I wasn't going to feed. I forget who I was playing and it’s not really important. The important thing was that I was up against a Zed, who in my experience are statistically higher as a choice of cocky players. Me and my jungler joked about it as we saw who I was up against. Low and behold the trash talk began. I lost the first exchange and the trash talk worsened. I figured that might happen so no sweat I just let it roll off and played carefully ignoring all the verbal baiting he was doing. Me and the jungler actively decided we would tilt him because it was sooooo obvious from his behaviour that we could. So I turtled up a bit luring him into over extension and the jungler struck and we trounced him. Still talking smack, “you need the junglers help you can’t take me” blah blah blah baiting. Damn straight I can’t take you without the jungler that’s why I am relying on my team mate to help me win. We did it again, this time he hard tilted. I gotta say I was impressed he didn’t rage quit right then and there but his self destruction was assured as he tried to prove himself for the rest of the game instead of playing smart. He couldn’t adjust to the new circumstance because in his mind there was no way he could lose. Possibly in his mind relying on my teammate was somehow cheating, and relying on his teammates weakness. It’s a team game though and part of strategy and victory is waiting for the odds to be in your favor, and blending different abilities.

Let’s look at a more frequent cause of tilting in this direction.Victory itself. So you just played a hell of a game and steam rolled your opponent. You're flying high and ready to roll the next team…. Or are you? Overconfidence often occurs after a great victory and often ends in the same result as the league story. It causes rigidity, and an inability to adapt, slacking off, not giving the game your whole focus because you think it's gonna be easy. Then you get trounced, and then because you were so high off the last game your fall is that much greater and momentum stops. Balance. Don’t take the bait like “why don’t you 1v1 one me bro.” What do you really gain by that other than proving you're easily manipulated. If it’s a team game and they aren’t relying on their team for help they obviously don’t understand the game regardless of individual skill and will be a detriment to any team since they are to busy trying to stroke their fragile egos instead of winning the game.

 It’s easy to say you just need a good attitude, but it’s not a switch you can just turn on and say hey I am gonna be positive today yay. It’s something that's forged through hard work. But without understanding why one should improve their attitude there is no real motivation to do it. The simple reason is that a bad attitude is self destructive, it can be gratifying in the short term but in the long term its crippling to progress. Balance is key, one may get the impression I am saying anger and confidence are bad, but they both serve a purpose. If there is no confidence there is only fear and hesitation, and anger at oneself when used correctly is a reminder not to make the same mistake. All the “negative” emotions related to loss and difficulty are tools to help us fix our mistakes by serving as a reminder, a disciplinary action to prevent us from doing it again. Small sharp jabs at ourselves like “idiot that’s the 3rd time you got caught” or “come on man just aim a little better” are all little jabs that can keep us on track without being so hard on yourself that you can’t keep track of your actual progress. It takes time to develop, and is the core of self discipline. 

There are those that have grudgingly come to know their limits and have stopped trying, these usually turn into the trolls that just try to tilt and spoil the game for others. A balanced mind can deal with this better than a tilted mind, and again one should not take the bait. On rare occasion it's necessary to verbally lash such individuals to get them to stop but its not recommended as it's an art in and of itself as it requires understanding of their malfunction and the ability to expose it to such a degree they shut down. I don’t recommend it as failure to do so just leads to wasted energy and eventual tilting or worse, distraction from your training. It's better to practice maintaining focus under the pressure of such mental assaults from trolls so even they can be adopted into your training sessions. It’s actually quite beneficial early on in training to get started with your self assessment. The reason being if the trolls are really getting to you about something there is a good chance it’s true, and that is why it affects you so much. This helps identify potential problems you may have been trying to ignore. Eventually such abuse will fail to have much impact if any, as you achieve balance and acceptance of where your progress is.

 Historically the greatest masters are never competing with other people, they are competing against themselves. Their aim is not to defeat the world, but to defeat themselves. It sounds self destructive at first, but what this mind set does is push one perpetually forward, to constantly push the limits of capability to face new challenges or create something more beautiful. Satisfaction doesn’t come from victory or admiration it comes from improvement. Those who lack this mind set only ever reach the potential of their competition, they are only ever just better than those around them. Those who push themselves for the sake of advancement are the ones that rocket ahead of all competitors, as they constantly explore and experiment the possibilities instead of just focusing on what's directly in front of them. Not everyone can be a great master in certain things but this mentality will certainly bring you farther than most normally dare to tread regardless of personal skill caps, and can even open new avenues of mastery never considered before. I have often taken great satisfaction in changing the dynamics of a game by taking a character that everyone thinks is useless and finding a way to make them viable. It doesn’t always work but when it does it has a major impact on the game. An open and balanced mind is key.

 Everything thing that comes up be it trolls, imbalance in the games designs, all of it should be adopted as training. Pit yourself against impossible odds, or against people miles ahead of you as often as you can tolerate. Facing the impossible can make the really difficult seem easy by comparison and drive innovation in knew directions.

 These elements combined form the basis of a good attitude, the willingness to accept and learn from both victory and defeat start the journey of self assessment which leads to accurately identifying problem areas so one can improve those weaknesses or create new strategies to work around them through experimentation or development of discipline. This understanding of the self and its current potential leads to balance of the ego which prevents tilting and self destruction (keeps us from tripping ourselves up and self sabotage) by honing our focus. A strong focus leads to commitment to improvement and if we compete against ourselves it allows us to push every boundary in our way instead of getting hung up on what others think, and avoiding being torn down by spiteful and toxic players. This is a good attitude and how to develop one. It takes effort, but it is a noble goal and the rewards reaped from the effort will manifest in every aspect of our lives.
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