Getting better at something means that you need to be doing that thing, multiple times, until it becomes second nature. Repetition of an activity means you naturally get better at said activity. This applies to absolutely everything we do. In some cases, people conflate the thought/research of doing something vs actually doing something.
Simulators are a good example of this. Many games have simulators that artificially optimize gameplay & statistics in order to provide a ranking of options. On paper, a DK is better at DPS than a Rogue (example). Sure, if the entire environment is controlled. That assumes that the lag is the same, that no movement is required, that they take no damage, that the procs are perfect, and that the player’s timing is perfect. Let’s even go a step further, where all the variables except the player are the same – the output is absolutely going to be different. The player skill is one of the ultimate factors.
Sports are also a prime example. Hitting balls in a batting cage has only a little to do with actually hitting a real-life pitch. Hitting a hundred shots on the driving range only goes so far on the actual course. The real-world variables take time for the body to adjust and compensate.
This one hits a bit more for me as my eldest daughter is playing hockey as a first year player. The season is over now and there’s some analysis that always comes from it. My kid barely knew how to skate to start the season, and the strides forward were significant, but they were despite the actual season. There were 18 kids on the squad, meaning that in a 50 minute session, she would be on the actual ice for about 7 minutes. Practices were better, but the coach:player ratio was large, meaning a lack of directed feedback.
I am glad I built a backyard rink. It gave dozens of hours of skating practice – more time than she had for the entire “team” season.
The good news is that the kids are young, so these things don’t really click with them. The bad news, for the sport at least, is that the kids are not as excited or involved as they could be, and the parents have a hell of a time justifying the cost for the time spent on ice vs pretty much any other activity.
Another example I can use my kids for. They’ve been taking swimming lessons for a few years now. 30 minute sessions, every week. The last 2 seasons have been just the 2 kids, rather than 6 – again, a lack of actual swimming doesn’t make them progress.
We are lucky in that we can afford travel, luckier still that the travel includes pools. Cuba, one weekend in a hotel, and another week in Florida gave about 4 hours a day of pool time in 4 months. That’s about 60 hours of swimming. That is more time in the pool in 4 months than all the time in swimming classes combined.
One of my gripes with PvP games is the lack of practice due to either mechanics or power curves. Aimbots and 1-shot-kills mean that you have a very low amount of actual combat gameplay. Large maps where you spend 3/4 of the time walking around an empty zone is worse when combined with low combat times. You could spend 20 minutes doing nothing but walking, then get sniped. Not my definition of fun.
Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate the tactical aspects of the game at elite levels. But the path to get to the elite level is littered with rookie corpses. And that’s aside from the abhorrent cultures within the games themselves. Toxicity breeds more of itself and I’d rather avoid it altogether.
And let’s avoid the paint-chip-eating tutorials that most games implement.
My gut tells me that the next gap to be bridged in competitive games is exactly that “starter to ok” mode. The gap between starter & top tier is a massive gulf of negative junk. A focus on the core mechanics that allow someone to get better, combined with a social atmosphere that helps with growth is the next logical step. Guess is that the former will be required before the latter… unless someone really decides to tighten their belt and start having serious repercussions on behavior (positive/negative).