Becoming a better gamer can enhance your enjoyment and expand your gaming opportunities. Getting better at gaming skills takes a lot of work, just as much as competitive sports. Let’s look at fighting games as an example.
Practice is the foundation for anyone new to the fighting game community (FGC) or any other gaming community. I always start with the coolest-looking fighter character and test out their capabilities. Some characters are slower, and others are more reliant on fast-paced execution of commands (your button inputs).
This is the point where I would typically consider the impact of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) on the game. If the faster characters require precise speed for battles, that could be enough reason to consider picking up a slower one. (Read more about choosing games.)
Learning the basics of the game — for instance, a basic combo — is a great way to adjust to the style of the game. Memory is a major component of fighting games, but all of it boils down to getting into a practice room and doing some experimenting. The need to practice can be a bit tedious, since it can be harder for someone with SMA to have a good play session until they’ve found the most comfortable way to play a new game.
Most of the time, I practice fighting mechanics alone since they take a lot of experimenting and repetition. Given the nature of competitive games, practice is almost always recommended after losing to a player who’s clearly better.
Of course, even after practice, losses are inevitable. As frustrating as it can be to lose, sometimes it just isn’t the day for that game, and it’s better to step away from the console for the day. Sometimes I can tell that I’m getting a little aggressive, and it causes me to lose more than I should.
I always have enough self-control to avoid getting trapped in a hole of growing anger. Depending on the circumstances, I might just need a quick break to decompress. I try to be honest enough to recognize when I am self-sabotaging by continuing to play.
Believe it or not, an aggression break can even be beneficial for SMA gamers. This time allows you to recover stamina if fatigue is a problem.
Getting better and more competitive requires an in-depth understanding of the mechanics of the game. The internet offers many videos and guides that relate to basics and advanced gameplay. Generally, I search for the name of the game that I want to see followed by “basics” or something to get me moving.
I always suggest watching videos because they can give you an idea of how others play the game. Through the eyes of someone with SMA, this is usually a rewarding experience. I follow the way the gamer in the video moves their hands and decide how I could approach the same form.
Another way to become accustomed to a new game is to start it with a friend online. The majority of the games I play nowadays are ones I selected because I wanted to play alongside friends. The benefit of playing with people who play the same games is that you help each other improve or learn new tricks.
Making friends usually just requires being social and talking to the right people. More often than not, once you find the right friends, they stick around for future games too. (Read more about making friends in online gaming.)
It could also be beneficial to find gamers in other genres who would be fun to play with in the future. I would always suggest being social at any given opportunity, so people know they can communicate with you without feeling awkward. Typing a simple “GG” (for good game) is a sign of good sportsmanship that opens a door to friendship.
Most importantly, when it comes to gaming with people or trying to improve my gaming skills, I should be enjoying myself. Finding people who share similar feelings is always going to provide the best experience. None of the process above should ever be much of a headache because, at the end of the day, games are meant to be fun. A little effort is all it takes to dive in deeper and level up your gaming skills.
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