If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re a gamer. But are you a good one? You probably think you are but do your scores say the same thing?
Almost half of the world’s population play games, so it’s safe to assume that some of them are going to be better than others. They are the people with the high kill-to-death ratios in Call of Duty, the fastest lap times in Forza, and the best park ratings in RollerCoaster Tycoon.
If you’ve ever played against these talented gamers, you might be wondering what it is that they do differently to you. Are they just naturally gifted, or do they have to grind hard to reach the level that they play at now?
The reality is that it’s a combination of both. Some people can pick up a controller and begin pwning n00bs right away, but others have to spend some time learning the ropes to reach the top of leaderboards.
But regardless how long it takes them to get there, most gamers share a common set of traits that help them to succeed.
They Understand There’s More Than One Way to Win
Games are interactive. They put you in the driving seat, giving you choices of what to do, how to react to events, and what strategies to deploy. This usually means that there is more than just one way to win and skilled players usually know which approach to take and when depending on variables like the resources they have available to them and who their opponents are.
In poker, players usually need to change their approach with each hand because they’ll be holding a different set of cards. But it’s actually more complicated than that as they also need to consider what position they’re in. With each round, your position changes as the button is passed around, meaning players in later spots can have several advantages over opponents to their right. These late positions allow them to perform moves like stealing from the button, the re-steal, and the squeeze.
The same is true about racing games like Forza and Gran Turismo. These racing simulators are programmed to be as close to real-life as possible, using complicated physics calculations to replicate the performance of cars on a race track. This means that, although the game can show you the traditional racing line as a guide, it may not always be the route around the track that you want to take. For example, if you’re racing wheel-to-wheel with an opponent, you might want to take a wider entry into a corner to get a faster exit and line up an overtake on the proceeding straight.
They Control Their Emotions
Playing games can be frustrating, especially if you lose several times in quick succession. We’ve all been there, when we can’t beat a certain level or another player keeps taking us out in a multiplayer match.
Some games are notorious for this, such as Grand Theft Auto Vice City’s Demolition Man mission where you’re tasked with flying an RC helicopter loaded with TNT into a building site. Many players struggled with this as there were many challenging elements, such as the chopper’s clunky mechanics, the convoluted route to reach the top of the building, and the builders and security guards sent to try and knock the craft off course.
It can be really easy to get wound up by these infuriating gaming moments, but that doesn’t usually help. The best gamers realise that what happened in the past won’t affect future attempts and will, instead, stay calm and apply a different approach next time to see if that works better.
Even the most naturally gifted gamer needs to practice. This is because, while general playing skills can help in just about any title, each game has its own unique quirks that need time to understand. In games like Call of Duty, each map and weapon has its own characteristics, so players need to understand the best hiding places and the optimal shooting techniques for each gun.
Practising takes time, but the most talented gamers are willing to spend time working on their craft so that they can beat their opponents.