People play games for all sorts of reasons. For some they’re an entertaining pastime, for others a means of connecting with friends both near and far. And for some, the competitive experience is the key motivator behind why they play.
For those in that latter group, there’s a clear desire to work towards improving your skills in the game you play, irrespective of whether it’s a classic table game, a high octane esport, or something in between.
No matter what game it is, there are several simple steps you can take to meaningfully progress in your quest to improve your gameplay. Below we’re going to take a look at some of these fundamentals.
Learn the Language
Gaining an involved understanding of the terminology in use in the game you play can be a huge help when you’re trying to improve. Often specific language grows up around a game to describe dynamics, rule-sets and strategies that only grow more relevant the better you get.
For example, the card game poker, which is more popular than ever in its online forms, has a wide glossary of niche termsand definitions for all aspects of play. The same even goes for seemingly more simple games, like the popular battle royale Fortnite, which has insider idioms relating to everything from fortress-building methods to descriptors of situational tactics.
In developing a familiarity of the language specific to your chosen game, you not only gain a more specific understanding of its core game mechanics, but an ability to converse with other players about detailed aspects of gameplay.
Do as the Romans Do
The popular saying, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do” relates to following the customs of the place you’re visiting, and whether that’s a physical location or game world, it holds true. One of the most natural ways to improve in playing a game well is to pay attention to the way skilled gamers play, and do your best to emulate their tactics and behaviours.
Often, through mimicking a highly proficient player, you may discover facts of gameplay that would be ordinarily obscured from you. Say, for example, you see that at the beginning of a game on a specific map, high level players all gravitate towards the same location.
In following them, you may discover the underlying rationale for their doing so – perhaps they’re heading to the spawn location of a power weapon, or even an outcrop that gives you a superior line of sight over your opponents.
By taking time to observe those better than you, and think about the motives underlying their behaviours, you will naturally improve. The same goes for rival players – if you get defeated, time and again, in a certain situation, take some time to unpick why. You may discover that you’re exposing a weakness obvious to better players, hence the pattern.
Those Who Can, Teach
In popular psychology and educational theory, there is a phenomenon known as the protégé effect. It demonstrates that an individual tends to learn and integrate information more effectively when they’re tasked with teaching what they know to another.
This is because, in formatting what you know in such a way that it can be taught to another, you must first clarify, to yourself, what your understanding of the given subject is. This can be a powerful tool to employ when trying to get better at a game.
In guiding a new, or less skilled, player, you may find that you learn – or re-learn – things that benefit you in the process. Often we take things for granted, and that can lead us to develop bad habits or simply make-do with an incomplete understanding.
Teaching another, and fielding whatever questions they may have about basic and fundamental components of the game in question, can be an extremely potent way for you yourself to become a better player.