If you factor in video games, there are hundreds of thousands of games in the world to play today. You may wonder how on earth anybody learns how to play any of these to a proficient level, but the truth is that many games are based upon the same principles, rules, and formats.
This makes the process of picking up a new game easier than you may think, especially if you’re an ardent fan of similar titles. This is why pro-level esports athletes are able to jump between different games and maintain their elite skill-set – they’ve honed the fundamentals of gameplay to a very fine degree, and know how to apply their abilities to variable contexts.
But what about the rest of us? What if we’ve just picked up a new arena battle game, downloaded a recommended mobile title, or have even bought a deck of cards in preparation for an upcoming game night – how do we get up to speed quickly? Fortunately, there are some simple steps anybody can take to get to grips with a game in no time at all, and below we’re going to be going over the most important tips for anyone embarking on this process.
Research: Knowledge is Power
Anybody faced with the prospect of wanting to learn to play a given game at a proficient level quickly would do well to research the title from all angles. What does this mean? Well for one, in the most basic sense it means learning the rules of how to play the game. Many people, especially those already familiar with related games, tend to gloss over the finer details of learning the rules of a game. But for those wanting to get up to speed in minimal time, it really pays to understand and integrate the core mechanics of how a game is played. In doing so, you will often put yourself at an advantage against more gung-ho players as you will be able to develop strategies based on the minutiae of a game’s core principles that others are unaware of. For example, in the popular banking game blackjack, knowledge of not only how, but when to opt for a blackjack insurance payout, can prevent you from going bust in the event of the dealer placing down a strong hand. Elsewhere, in popular battle royale game Fortnite, knowing the rate and speed at which the map decreases in size will let you position yourself appropriately to minimize the risk of being caught out of bounds.
Practice Makes Perfect
The second major point that will bring you up to speed quickly is to practice a game as much as possible. You could have an exhaustive knowledge of the finer technical points of a game of chess and still be a poor player if you never get the chance to play against real opponents. It’s only through doing so that you can get a real sense of what actually works for you, and in what situations different strategies become viable.
There are a whole host of subtle factors that are involved in playing a game that cannot be simulated, and as such increasing the number of hours and quantity of games you play in order to practice will advance your skill and proficiency faster than anything else.
There’s a popular maxim taken from the world of music studies that to become a master at your given instrument requires 10,000 hours of practice. While this has since been debunked, the truth remains that the average time it took musicians in a study to reach “master” status varied from as little as 700 hours, right up to 16,000.
The key takeaway is that nobody is going to get good at anything without dedicating serious time to practicing it. Much of this has to do with the way our brains integrate new information – repetition of activity forms grooves in our neutral networks. This increases the number of connections between disparate parts of our brains and boosts our efficiency, and thus skill, in the task we’re learning.