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Level Up Your Game! Here are five things you need to know to be better at video games. If you don't play video games, being asked to join in with friends or family can be intimidating – so here are five general rules that may help you out.





Designers want you to explore. Game development studios employ a large number of artists and designers to build vast interactive worlds-- and they want you to explore it! Exploration often yields hidden iteams, such as health packs, ammo, weapons, and treasures.





Patterns are there to be broken. Most games are pattern systems and challenge lies within figuring out the game's patterns and breaking them. Enemy soldiers will have patrol patterns and fighters have identifiable skills and attack patterns. 


When starting a new level, match, or race, be sure to spend time identifying them and how you can make them work for you. If a game claims that its computer-controlled characters use "advanced artificial intelligence,"  it means that they are programmed to look for patterns also-- so be sure to vary your tactics. The best gamers are those that understand games at a systematic level.



Where To Go?


Everything is telegraphed. Game designers worry that if the player can't figure out what to do or where to go next they will get frustrated and give up. That's why they are constantly telling you throughout the game. They provide an arrowhead to point you to the objective, will highlight special objects they want you to interact with, or by eavesdropping on enemy guards will reveal objectives or hints. You just have to learn to look for them in your surroundings. 


"The basic game design tenet is "learn, test, master": a game will give you a new toy, it will let you use it in a couple of missions, then it will expect you to be really good at it when the end-of-level boss arrives. All of this will be communicated to you through a sort of environmental osmosis." -Keith Stuart



Spatial Awareness


Spatial awareness is more important than speed. You need to stay in control if you are to improve. 


In racing games, jamming the accelerator may appear to be the best way to catch up, but often times you actually lose control. It's better to drive carefully, following the track, slowing into corners and accelerating out of the curves. Even if you don't catch up on your first few playthroughs, you're driving abilities will improve.


The same concept applies to shooting games- the "run and gun" approach will usually get you killed. Instead, make safe spaces by using cover and picking off enemies in order of imminent threat. The key to getting where you want to go is knowing exactly where you are right now.


"Fire without movement is stupid, movement without fire is suicide."



asset management


Asset management is more important than raw skill. Most games will give you a set of abilities, items and weapons, and will place limits on how many you can carry at one time. Understanding how to manage these assets is sometimes more valuable than your skill using them. 


Typically when a designer restricts your access its to encourage personalization or adaptability. They want you to design your character and inventory based on your strengths and weaknesses or around upcoming challenges.


In shooters or action role-playing games, work out if you're better at engaging enemies up close or at a distance, then concentrate your armory on either machine guns/swords or sniper rifles/magic. Adapt to your skill set. Just make sure you always retain at least one health pack and one explosive weapon – a grenade or area-effect magical item: these will buy you time and space when you're back's against the wall. 


In games where pre-planning is the inventory rule, work out from the mission objective what the requirements are likely to be. In a racing game for example, the next course may have lots of bends and no straights, in which case setting up your car with good brakes and acceleration is more important than a high top speed. If the game is telegraphing to you that a climatic battle is approaching, stock up on rocket launchers and smart bombs. 



Certain games are great for teaching the rules and conventions of design. If you want to get better at all games, play Tetris, Legend of Zelda, Street Fighter, Quake and Gran Turismo.











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