How Gaming Teaches you to Plan 1

compLexity Gaming recently added Heroes of Newerth as a division to their championship gaming family. HoN is a solid title in eSports and complexity has contracted one of the very best teams to represent the coL Community: Trademark eSports. Trademark is currently ranked #1 in the GosuGamers rank database and #3 on the recent HoNCast top 10 rankings.

Gamification

I did a podcast, Games may be your only chance to attract the best and brightest talent, with one of the members of col.HON when he was member of Trademark last year. This in an excerpt from the podcast where we discussed preparation and teamwork. You can review Peter’s first blog post on the Complexity site.

Joe:  Well, you mention, there is a strategy. Do you develop a strategy before a game?

Peter: We can have an idea of what we’re going to do before a game, but the way the game works is the other team can ban heroes that they don’t want to see in the game, so sometimes that can throw off any strategy you set up before the game. Luckily, there are multiple heroes that can fill multiple roles so even if your strategy is similar; you can just alter it with different heroes.

Joe: So your strategy can be an overview, but once you go into the game, it changes rather quickly just based on who you can use and which people you can use, which heroes you can use in it?

Peter: Yes, you can’t go into a game with an absolute idea of what you’re going to do because you’re facing up against five other players who are going to do something to try and stop you or something different that you maybe won’t expect. Every game’s different and it’s really about understanding and adapting to what’s going on.

Joe: A lot of it is like a football game. You can go into a game plan, but if someone throws you, a different defense up, or has a different configuration, you have to change and adapt to what the other team is doing as the game progresses.

Peter: For the most part, yes, unless what they’re doing is bad, and it’s actually helping you more than it’s hurting you. Then, you just stick with what you’re doing.

Joe: Well, I would equate that to have if the fullback can run eight yards up the middle and you just keep doing it. You’ll take eight yards until they stop it, right? You have played sports before. What’s different between offline and online teamwork? Is the collaboration stronger, weaker?

Peter: Absolutely. When you’re playing a game, you’re focusing on what you’re doing individually, and the only way you can understand or the only way you can comprehend what’s going on with your teammates is by communication. If your teammates are not communicating, you could be susceptible to the other team ganging up on you or things you’re just not ready for unless you’re communicating actively throughout a game.

Joe: There’s constant chatter taking place such as in a dog fight or a fighter pilot with your other teammates or your other squadron members whom you’re constantly saying ‘watch for this’ or ‘watch for that’. Is that taking place?

Peter:  When we’re playing at full force, there’s hardly a silent moment on Skype, which is what we use to communicate within each other.

Joe: That chatter, I mean with five… Do you find yourself talking over the other one or is it by the roles that are being played, there’s kind of a leader who should be talking?

Peter:  People speak over each other when it’s necessary. For the most part, our team is very good about not talking over each other unless, obviously, something’s going on and something needs to happen. People will shout or yell over another in order to get that done.

Joe: Is there a planning aspect or do you just jump into the fray and “inspect and adapt”, as I would call it?

Peter: If you’re going to jump into the fray and try to inspect and adapt against a good team, you’re almost always going to lose. There is a lot of preparation that goes into games before they happen that’s usually done behind the scenes, in order to get the one up on your opponents; you want to be prepared.

It’s almost like practice. You want to scout them, you want to know what they’re going to do, just like a football team, they might watch replays of the other team before. You do the same thing in video games. You want to understand how they play, what they’re trying to do as a team, and you want to be able to counter that.

Joe: You’re out there watching the other team’s stream. Let’s say that you’re in a tournament, and you know the formidable competition within a tournament is going to be these two or three teams, then you might as a team go watch video and talk about the other team?

Peter:  Yes.

Joe: So you’re just talking to each other about what you could do and how the other team plays?

Peter: We talk about what they do as a team. We talk about how they play, what heroes they like to play, what wards they like to place, which gives sight of the map by identifying what they do with certain timings, we can counter that with our own timing, timing pushes.

Joe: When you go through this process, I think about a football team, for example, they practice all week for two hours in a game. How much practice in relation to playing do you do?

Peter: We practice; I would say, probably, five to ten times as much as we play. One, that’s because we just like to play the game, and we enjoy playing with each other more than playing with the general public or other people. As a team, we enjoy playing as five, so we try to do that whenever we can. Honestly, tournaments aren’t scarce, but they aren’t every day. People like to play the game every day, whether it’s after they get home from work, or after they get home from school. We try to get some games in and just hone our skills and stay fresh for when that tournament comes up.

I thought that the upcoming discussions this week on teams warrant a re-visit of this podcast and encourage you to listen to the entire podcast, Games may be your only chance to attract the best and brightest talent.  I used to think Gaming was all about “Inspect an Adapt”. That Mario and Luigi thing. However, gaming is not just child’s play. To reach the professional level of gaming, it requires planning and dedication. More importantly, it teaches you the correct way to plan. Good plans require the ability to adapt to present situations. Understanding when to deviate from your plan through adjusting or even discarding it entirely can be learned and simulated through gaming.

In The Gamification of Learning and Instruction author Dr. Karl Kapp, had his son write the last chapter of the book for a Gamers perspective. In my series of blog posts outlined in A Lean Service Design Approach to Gaming your Training, I hope to include a few perspectives from a Gamer such as the one above. Dr. Kapp recommends that if we are serious about Gamification, play games. I would like to add, if we are serious about planning, try planning a strategy out for your next game, Euchre anyone?