Quake Metagame Series

Article 4 - Attitudes

I think there's a point I'm trying to make throughout this series, one that I'm just now discovering: Be Aware. Everything that has been discussed so far has pertained to the concept that in order to succeed, you must be aware. Aware of your opponent's position, strength, and thoughts. Aware of your own mental state and resources. Aware of the environment around you, both within and without the game. Be aware.

This is why this is being written: in order to lay an outline of what one must be aware of. Putting this outline into action doesn't take much, simply dwell on these things and keep them in mind. This comes all the way back around to why all of this matters in the first place: Quake is a game of (in my mind) becoming faster, smarter, more precise, and more aware; but not necessarily more than other people. Instead, this growth may be directed purely at yourself. Other people are simply relative landmarks with which to compare yourself. The game is held together by people. We can use others to reflect on our own skills and abilities, and to gain new insight. These are things that bots can provide only to a point, afterwards they just become another grunt to yawn at.

Certainly, there are people who are better than you, as well as those that are not as skilled as you. I don't care who you are, there will always be someone who can beat you. And we can all fall prey to a random hand grenade thrown by a neophyte. It all comes back to how you react to these people, and what you can learn from them in order to improve your own awareness. The point where you stop learning from other people is the point where the game loses it's appeal. Remember though that learning from others is a your choice alone; it doesn't depend on them.

He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.” (Tzu 3:17)

I could go on about the practical application of this quote, but I think you will find that it is simply a redefinition of the concept presented last week. So let's look deeper.

When facing an opponent who is superior in skill or experience (one usually knows when this happens), what is the common reaction when we get beaten into a pulp? I for one can say frustration. One should not regard this as an embarrassment, however. For one, you have just set a goal for yourself: defeat that opponent. For another, you probably got some questions running through your head: “How did he do that?”. You now have something to study and to learn from. If it stands to reason that the 'best' players gained skill through long duration of play, then wouldn't it also make sense that they saw their fair share of defeats as well? So be wary if frustration starts to turn to discouragement. By abandoning the drive to improve, you lose any hope for that reality. We lose more players that way.

On the flipside, what happens when we catch ourselves in a server with some kid on a game pad? Besides a big head, we run the risk of losing the kind of focus it takes to apply yourself to the game. Your edge gets dull. This is not a result of them being an inferior player, but your attitude towards them. Watch that player. Humans are notorious for doing the unexpected, so study habits whenever you can. Even if the other player's tactics are bogus, you can compare them to your own and therefore gain an even more rounded mindset for the game. All it takes is the proper attitude.

It might surprise you that player's skills are not set in stone; they can fluctuate from week to week, night to night, map to map even. One win or one loss is a poor measurement of relative skill. It can take several matches to be able to tell who really is superior. By then, however, both players will have learned much from each other, thus changing their relationship. Skill is never static.

In reality, all of this metagaming mojo is rather simple, given the correct attitude. My hope is that this will encourage and guide players to put themselves into this attitude.

To summarize:

  • The key to becoming a better player is to increase your awareness, both of others and yourself.

  • Becoming aware of other players involves learning from them; without other people, your skills would stagnate.

  • Whether or not you learn from others is an independent choice.

  • One should not be discouraged by defeat. Instead, glean what information you can from a superior player.

  • One should not let their skills be dulled by interacting with less-skilled players. This can cause one to become sloppy. Much can be learned from these people as well.

  • Your skills are never static, are are in constant fluctuation.

Next week: The slumps. We all get them.