*All aliases shown/used are for illustrative purposes only and does not refer to any real person or account.
What makes ‘pineapple_ZA’ better than ‘B0K_b33n’ in Starcraft II? And what does ‘bundu_562’ know that makes him win every FFA round in Unreal Tournament 3? This question has baffled my mind on many occasions, and has probably been a lingering topic from the introduction of popular arcade in 1976. But the only answers people seem to generate involves a combination of ‘better broadband’, ‘luck’, ‘lame opposition’ and some form of ‘he has no life’… But what if there is more to it?
In beating a game, talent and training (practice) are the two main factors that affect someones success, either in score, or effectiveness. Unfortunately those two things are hard to classify and distinguish from each other in gaming. In something like art, it’s easier to distinguish talent from skill, like when a talented twelve year old draws a portrait (with some obvious technical errors) it looks good, but only for a twelve year old. Whereby when that same artists graduates a degree in fine art at the age of twenty three, and then again draws a portrait, the result is one of technical excellency and optimal aesthetic appeal. In gaming however, the distinguishable lines are not as clear.
When spectating a match of someone considered a veteran in a franchise, it may be hard to know exactly how they came to be good. Maybe they’ve played that game for so many hundreds of hours that actions and tactics are effectively executed without thinking, or maybe they are used to playing similar games and quickly adapt to become better than the average Joe. But there must be some logical way to explain why someone is better, and more often than not, much better than others.
Talent is relevant in almost every profession in life, sometimes more than other, but always visible. In physical sport, good gene’s and reflexes helps someone become great, and in the stock market or something like chess, natural deduction and strategy helps someone rise above the bunch. In gaming, things are different though. Games are made for a large target market, and the main goal of any developer is to make a game recreational and enjoyable, thus termed a ‘game’. So if the audience is varied in every category, including; gender, culture, intelligence and motivation it would be impossible to make a game perfect for every person that would play it. Thus the dilemma: If a audience differs in so many way’s it would not be wise to build a game on advancement through those factors, and so many developers refer back to the universal trait of humanity: practice makes perfect.
Now we understand why your score kept climbing when you played snake on mom’s new 3310, and why that guy ‘with no life’ keeps getting fast-as-hell head shots in Counter-Strike. However, we must understand that practice is not the Alpha & Omega, not even in gaming. Even though the effects of ‘talent’ is dampened in gaming, the possession of good tactics, dexterity and leadership skills does have a measurable influence on the player someone can become.
When combining (quality) practice with talent, most everyone can improve greatly, no matter the discipline. And if you apply that in gaming, who knows? Maybe next time you meet ‘pineapple_ZA’ in Starcraft II you’ll show him how it’s done, or maybe you’ll be the one to get ‘GOD-LIKE’ in UT 3 instead of ‘bundu_562’. Whatever the case, it’s always good to know the time you put into something does pay off. – Now, go get a life! 😉