learning what not to do while playing is important too…

The semester is over. I’ve got my grades all done. I just have to turn them into the university and then the summer will officially start

Last week I was playing Halo with someone who wasn’t familiar with playing first-person shooters. I explained to her the controls and started playing. While playing she had a hard time moving around. This is to be expected, but the reasons for this weren’t immediately obvious. She didn’t have much trouble actually moving the character. Instead, she had a hard time controlling where the character was looking. She would frequently end up looking at the ceiling or the floor, unable to see where she was supposed to be going. This is not the first time I’ve seen people who are new to FPS games on consols have this difficulty. This got me thinking.

In the past I have thought about the ways in which players have to learn what to do in order to be good at games. They have to acquire skills which are not obvious to those who think that games are mindless entertainment or killing machines. However, in this case it wasn’t so much a matter of learning what to do, but learning what not to do.

Of course we can argue that not doing something is actually doing something, but the point is that I at least had not thought that one has to learn restraint. In Halo you have to use the right stick to look left and right, but you also use it to look up and down. However, you look up and down much less than you look left and right. So you have to learn how to move the stick in one direction without accidentally moving it in another. (or move it on one axis but not the other).

Broadening it out I can see how learning when not to do something is a skill that I myself have yet to master. In online games like Counter-Strike it isn’t that I don’t know how to do something, but that I’m too impatient to learn how not to run around that corner or whatever. And by failing to learn when not to do that is at least one reason why I stink at the game. This is not an Earth shattering insight by any means, but I at least found it interesting.

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