Games are incredibly diverse and are as old as human history, yet despite the sheer breadth and variety of titles out there, they all share some core common features with one another. Chief of these, is that they feature a set of rules – no matter how loosely defined. In effect, consistent rules can be thought of as the factor that distinguishes a game from the more general category of “play”.
For example, if you have a soccer ball and are kicking it around, that could be considered play – but the second you decide that the object of your play is to score a goal, you’re into the realm of games and sports.
Because games are all based on rules, there are some core strategies and techniques that are applicable to each, no matter how distinct they are. This is how it’s possible to set anyone on the long path to mastery in a given game, irrespective of their prior experience. Let’s take a look at what these first steps entail.
Learn the Rules
As we explored above, the existence of rules is one of the most commonly held definitions of a game – as such, the first step for any new player is to begin to learn the rules of the game they hope to master.
This process can be further subdivided into rules and mechanics. For example, the basic rules of a game speak to the procedural steps that each player must understand before they can consistently play a game – this is effectively a list of “do’s” and ‘“don’ts”.
For example, someone playing a very simple game like Chutes and Ladders needs to know that if you land on a ladder, you move up; likewise, if you hit a chute, you fall back down.
Mechanics are like rules, in as far as they further help a player understand the basic parameters of the game they’re playing – where they’re different, is that it’s typically not necessary for a novice player to deeply understand these before starting.
Take, for example, games belonging to the online slots genre, which employ a mechanic known as RTP. Simply put, RTP slots titles refers to the likelihood that a player will get a return on their investment for playing, rendered as a percentage.
A game with a high RTP would thus be considered “easier”, whereas those with a low RTP are typically thought to be harder – but normally reward players better should they succeed.
Learn Basic Strategies
A strategy is, in effect, an approach toward achieving a specific goal. With respect to a game, strategies are employed to help a player win. Strategies vary wildly depending on the type of game you’re interested in playing. For example, with a simple game like Tic-Tac-Toe, it is considered advantageous to play first – thus, this could be considered an ideal strategy.
This becomes more interesting when you begin applying strategy to more complex games though. Chess, for example, has generated an enormous body of literature covering the various strategies that players can employ at various stages of the game and many of these have accrued enigmatic names such as “the Sicilian defense” and “the Queen’s gambit”.
Once you have developed a good understanding of the rules and underlying mechanics of your chosen game, it’s extremely valuable to begin learning and applying strategies to your gameplay – this is considered a vital element in developing proficiency as a player.
Study the Best
Once you’re well on your way to playing your game well, you’re going to want to start studying high caliber players in a bid to understand and incorporate their methods and techniques. It’s rarely worth bothering to do this in the opening stages as you will still be very much focused on learning the basics.
Once you’ve got these under your belt though, there’s no substitute for analyzing the gameplay – and even playing against better players – as a means of ensuring continual improvement on your own journey toward mastery.