Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Discipline - Nerds' worst enemy

It's also one of the most important life skills we can get. Rarely does life ever reward us for being good at anything. I think the worst thing about RL is that really, life doesn't care if we excel or not. It just cares if we show up on time and put in our eight hours. It likes us more if we do overtime (usually).

Discipline is the natural enemy of nerds everywhere. Most of the time, nerds are smart enough to do anything we really want to. Even if we're not good at it right away, most nerds will pick it up in fractions of the time that most people do. While this is awesome in school (I didn't study in college either) it is not so useful later on in life when we can't procrastinate as much and have to do regular work.

So in the long run we have to force ourselves to work. Most of us put up with lame jobs somewhere, although some of us end up as pro geeks like Ken Hoang or Boxer.

So what really is the point of all this? Well, nerds are undisciplined in other nerdy ways too. It's sort of our nature to be good at things so oftentimes we develop inflated opinions of ourselves. It's pretty normal to think you're good at something, especially when feedback from others says so.

When we get arrogant we tend to make dumb decisions. I'll take a classic example most of us should be familiar with. You see an opponent down the hall in an FPS game and shoot at him. Your aim is pretty good so he takes some hits, but he manages to get behind cover before you can finish the job. You dart around the corner and your opponent hits you with a 1-hit kill (knife or other melee, shotgun blast, or even a mine or other explosive). If you'd thought for 1 second you probably would have not died (thrown a grenade or something) but we have to train ourselves not to do that. Even when we learn things like "don't chase after people behind cover" or "don't snipe right on top of the sniper spawn" we still tend to make dumb, predictable mistakes that could be avoided if we would just THINK.

Discipline is the key. Whenever we make a decision to do something in a game, there should be an actual thought process where we weigh the options at our disposal and make a choice. We don't even have to take very long at this process; just a few seconds will do. The important thing is that we think about it!

So many people I know just totally glaze over the decision-making process. I safe jump and block against knocked down people in SF4 all the time, and they continue to reversal against me, then I block their dragon punch and hit them with a combo, knock them down, and safe jump AGAIN. You'd think they would learn, but no! I'm sure they are quite smart people normally, but they turn their brains off because they are "sure" that they can win.

When I explain this to people, they seem very sure of themselves that they are not the ones I am talking to. But really, unless you are a top level competitive player in some game or another you are probably one of the people I am talking to! Really! I'm calling you out!

I mean that most likely, you play whatever game or even do other things - like gamemastering or writing - you need to have discipline to accept the fact that you probably can learn something. Even if you were the absolute best you need to stay the best, and that means having the drive to improve yourself.

I think a good start is reading this site, but I can really only put you in the right mindset. I certainly can't teach you the nuances of Company of Heroes or whatever game it is you play. I can help with the writing/GMing things, because they are more general, but the burden is on you to improve.

So moving right along with the discipline topic, it applies to TEAM PLAY too. Even if you get good at thinking about the best decision for yourself it does not mean you'll be the best at making the best decisions for your team! You've got to think about not just you, but the other people you're with.

The first and most important thing we think about a lot is team roles. Who's doing what? In a team, you need to communicate what you think should be done. If you've got a leader, that person should definitely be communicating the team plan. Once that's done, you need to go do what needs to be done. If you're a more casual group you can come to a group consensus, but you still need to do things like:
1) Map control
2) Scouting
3) Resource gathering (weapons, ammunition, etc.)
4) Plans of attack and defense (mostly for objective-based games like CTF)

You might think this only applies to first person shooters, but it really applies to any team-based game where your opponent's position is unknown. Lock the map down and scout, and make sure to cover your backs - try to pin down important resources and deny your enemy access to them, and secure them for yourselves.

How many teams that you joined in the last public server you joined had anything other than a bunch of Rambos? Even better are the kids who say "don't tell me what to do!" While we can easily say "that isn't us," if you're not the ones following the team too you are just as much a part of the problem.

Hopefully I've pointed out the painful, obvious stuff that everyone should know. Honestly it feels like this stuff is obvious. Actually, it probably is - the big revelation is that YOU - yes you, the one reading this article - are guilty of some of this. You need to really think a lot more before you take action and do things - don't just go in all guns blazing without a plan. And anytime you have a moment, rethink your plan - heck, if you don't have a moment, rethink your plan too - because those are the moments when you are most vulnerable.

I'll write more about the mindgame stuff soon. Ta for now!

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