In the aftermath of this year's EVO 2012 event, I felt the need to get back into playing more fighting games and putting together an effort to do well at tournaments. In these past several months, I have missed the feeling of practicing fighting games and going to tournaments - EVO was the kicker I needed to refuel that passion.
Yesterday, while perusing Facebook and still hyped about EVO, I came across a long entry by a friend, Geoff "Vermanubis" Butterworth. He's one of the most well-known Smash players in its community, being an extremely talented and intelligent individual who also happens to be one of the best Ganondorf players in the country.
What he posted spoke to me in volumes, so much that I bookmarked it and read it over and over. Now, I want to share it all with you.
The following are words from Geoff, not me, and I take no credit in producing the quote. Geoff gave me permission to post this in my blog. I only want to share these words with all of you and hope it helps with your careers in competitive gaming or anything else in life.
"In retrospect of Evo, I've been thinking about how people improve at things, and trying to dig a little deeper into why some people excel, while others get stymied.
To keep it as brief as possible, I think it can be simplified to observation. For example, in my musical pursuits (I know, I create an analog between music and just about everything), I actively and manually rebuild my understanding of music so I can arrive at a conceptualization of music that's most successful for my particular application. In order to analyze songs, I needed to learn to read sheet music so I could explore the harmonies in a song a bit closer. However, I didn't and haven't been making an effort to deconstruct my current understanding of sheet music, so my sight-reading skills stay about the same.
The point of this is that you can't labor away at something mindlessly and hope to breach an obstacle. I'm far more concerned with the content of the music than developing an algorithmic ability to read on sight. So, naturally, I've plateaued at my current level of sight-reading, despite reading music almost daily.
If you want to excel at something, you have to greet any and all problems and weaknesses and endure the ass-pains of reconstructing particular models of thinking. Pumping in time like it's going out of style isn't going to get anyone anywhere. Time in conjunction with a cognitive effort to understand the nature of the task is what makes people do well.
Think of a concept like a lump of clay. Every time you consider a new concept, such as, say, what to do in an unfamiliar match-up, it's like adding another lump of clay. To integrate that lump of clay, you need to mold it, 'cause it won't just osmose into the bigger lump by itself.
This is just a pattern I've noticed in both myself and in just about everyone else. When effort is put to thinking and understanding, instead of hoping for causeless epiphanies, results invariably come."
-Geoff "Vermanubis" Butterworth (Permission to post granted)