Friday, 7 May 2010

No lifers

A common topic of debate on gaming blogs is the extent to which raiders are "no life" basement dwellers who only get where they are because they play the game more than others. The common response to this is that it isn't time spent gathering epixx that matters, but skill. Gevlon's Undergeared project is an attempt to prove just that.

However, this leads open an important question: where does skill come from? It's widely believed that talent is somehow an innate thing, that the l33t players have and the hoi poloi don't. There's been quite a bit of research done on this topic, which is well summarised in Geoff Colvin's book "Talent is overrated". To quote the Amazon summary of the book:
"Greatness doesn't come from DNA, but from practice and perseverance honed over decades. And not just plain old hard work, but a very specific kind of work. The key is how you practice, how you analyze the results of your progress and learn from your mistakes, that enables you to achieve greatness."
In other words, top performers do do a lot of work, but it's not the gear you need to grind, it's the skills. Yes, a skilled player with an undergeared character may do better than an unskilled one with good gear, but that's only because they have spent years developing those skills through practice.

What this suggests is that the whole debate on skill vs time is misplaced. They are the same thing.

1 comment:

  1. I disagree. spending a lot of time on something doesn't necessarily equate in skill. when one spends that time efficiently, yes, but I bet you've seen those people who spend most of their days hanging out in Dalaran or Ogrimmar...plenty of time invested into...nothing. No gamings skills are honed by sitting on your mount, chatting.

    likewise, I've learned not to underestimate a value of sheer talent. when I was a wee little gamer, I was a student at a music school in addition to regular old school. it just so happened that a classmate of mine also had the same music teacher, so we'd often walk over to music school building after our regular classes and each reserve a practice room before our music class. What took me hours to pick up - took him minutes. And with less practice, he was a better piano player. I've met people like that in WoW, people who would take long breaks between content, come back to new raids and do better then many who practiced the fights and their rotations on weekly basis. It doesn't mean that someone with less talent cannot improve to a degree of someone with, on the contrary. I've seen people in real life AND in game achieve quite a lot given dedication and diligence. But that doesn't negate the fact that not everyone needs to.