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An Examination of Skill pt.6

Dexterity is the skill of action. Writing. Running. Jumping. Etc. Since we don't have devices that can read our thoughts, we have to test our abilities through action. For the purposes of this investigation and the development of a clear and critical vocabulary, consider the manipulation of controllers and/or the body as feats of dexterity. 

The human body contains 650+ muscles. Even if you only have an elementary understanding of muscular and bone structures, you should have a strong, intuitive understanding of human motion. In other words, you should have plenty of first hand experience of how your body moves, how it tires, and how it can be used to accomplish actions. You should also have some idea of how far you can stretch, how much weight you can lift, how fast you can run, and perform other actions. 

From full body activities (sports, dance, walking, running, working out, certain musical instruments, and even playing some video games) to actions of very fine motor skills (writing, violin, most video games) the human body is capable of a wide array of actions/motions. Personally, I am fascinated by our capacity to coordinate and control our bodies. Unlike the machines we build that use motors, gears, and complex pulley systems, our muscles only pull in a singular direction. Everything in our bodies is round and oddly angled, yet we can move in straight lines, spin in circles, and tumble through the air with socket, hinge, and gliding joints all working together. Our bodies are the ultimate machine. It never gets old for me. 

Because muscles are at the heart of dexterity, we can consider the following aspects of one's dexterity skill. 

  • Speed: How quickly one can execute a series of motions or repeat a single motion.
  • Power: How much force drives a single motion.
  • Stamina: How long a motion or series of motions can be maintained or repeated before a level of performance drops.  This level of performance can be declared as any measurable facet of an action. 
  • Control: Everything between the slowest/softest and the quickest/hardest motion or series of motions. Also refers to the specific use of individual muscles as opposed to chunking actions into large groups of muscles. 
  • Harmony: How the execution of one motion affects the execution of another motion. The more negatively resulting motions are affected, the less harmony one has. 
  • Efficiency: How few muscles, motions, and how little strength one can use without sacrificing the other aspects of dexterity. This facet is determined by the minimum dexterity level required to successfully execute a target motion.  


 To get a better understanding of the different facets of dexterity skill, watch the video below. 


In the next post, I'll cover a wide range of dexterity based challenges and design elements in video games. 


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