This is something I just realised about myself, and my videogaming career, and the past and future.

When I'm writing, as in handwriting, pen on paper, I frequently make mistakes. I mean frequently. I rarely write more than a paragraph without accidentally writing an incorrect character and having to scribble it out. It's not a massive problem, it's not like I have to concentrate furiously hard if I want to write anything at all, but I DO if I want to write an error-free page. I've filled seven or eight complete notebooks with mathematics notes and I doubt there's a single page in there which doesn't have at least one scribbled-out error on it. That's also why I've never used correction fluid/Tippex. It would just take me aeons to get past a page if I stopped to correct myself all the time. I find that most people, on the other hand, can write pages without errors at all.

I do the same when typing, but it's less obvious because I can just hit backspace and try again within a tenth of a second. It does keep my speed-typing speeds down though, far below the skills of my brother or my compsci mate Rob. What I also find is that if I hold out my hand, palm downwards, my fingers are always moving very slightly, jittering about. Sometimes less so than others, but they're always in motion. Jitter. Creeping in between the instructions sent my brain and the actions performed by my fingers. Is this some very mild sort of dyslexia? Maybe, but it's hardly a problem really.

Until I get to videogames. Videogames require extremely precise finger movements to get the best scores, and that applies to pretty much every game I've ever played: Perfect Dark, Super Monkey Ball, AstroLander, Ikaruga. What I realised recently is that the only way I've ever managed to get decent scores in these games is by repeatedly playing the same level over and over again until the jitter-error minimizes itself out by fluke. War 0:27 in Perfect Dark basically took me about eight days, two hours a day, of playing the level over and over until on the godlike run, everything went exactly right and I took all the corners exactly right. Same with 3:01 Investigation PA - playing for ten solid days, waiting for insane luck in both computer random factors and human factors to coincide. For Monkey Ball, the only way I got good scores on A11 was by falling and restarting about a hundred times, until by chance it all went smoothly. With AstroLander, I found myself spending ten times as long as everybody else to get comparable scores. I played the letter-sorting subgame in The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker, and realised that I had nowhere near the manual dexterity to navigate the boxes accurately all the time, and got 34 only through several solid hours of trying. Ikaruga was the worst. What I realised there was that the problem was much worse than I thought - I didn't even make the top 100 worldwide and barely the UK top 50. To get the world record scores in Ikaruga requires the most consistent and accurate movements of any game I've ever seen, flawlessness stretched out over a 45-minute run through the entire game. There was no way I was ever going to duplicate that - after about 30 hours of play the best I had on arcade was 4.69 million and I was unlikely to do any better without huge amounts of practice.

I find also that although I frequently dominate my friends at any of my videogames, once they pick up the controls and learn the skills and tactics that I use to win, they are quickly up and competing on my level. My only advantage is experience and tactical knowledge.

In short; the only way I have ever achieved anything of note in any videogame is not through pure skill, but through learning the strategies (which is half the battle) and applying them over and over and over again until everything works out - through fluke. Thanks to the jitter in my fingers, I am actually less skilled than the average player; it's only by working twice as hard as anybody else that I achieve moderate recognition.

It's not a problem that's likely to go away, either. I've been writing every day of my life since I was a very young child and still I make the errors - if it was a case of simply practicing, I would be almost perfect by now. If playing Perfect Dark for 400 hours doesn't do anything for me, then nothing will. What I have come to accept therefore is that regardless of how much I practice, I am never going to achieve anything truly noteworthy - such as a long-standing, untied world record - in any game.

All I can contribute is strategy, and here, too, I am outshone by better strategists. There is also Nintendo's ridiculous policy of releasing games in the UK as much as six months after their American release; six months after all the shortcuts and tactics have been found, and all the world records are already far beyond my reach.

Though I have briefly held records, untied records even, they have never been for long, only until a really good player started taking interest in the game. My best accomplishments are all hopelessly overshadowed. Basically, I am never going to be able to contribute anything worthwhile to the world of competitive videogaming. Nor am I ever going to be good enough to attain personal glory. Nowadays, with the workload of college - I'm not in high school anymore, when there were hours free every night to play - I can't even put the amount of time into playing that I really need in order to get anywhere. I can't lose myself in a videogame anymore. And all these factors have combined to make me lose my enthusiasm for playing at all.

Which is why I'm quitting competitive videogaming. From now on I'm playing only for fun.

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