An Examination of Skill pt.17
Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 10:47PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Skill, Wario Ware

The skill spectrum is a complex system. Essentially, it's a combination of the the "human machine" and interactive design. For the purposes of this article I will focus on video games as the primary interactive system. To illustrate how the several parts of the skill spectrum affect each other I will use a bit of math logic to explain what happens to each of the 5 facets of skill as a game's speed increases to infinity. 

For those who generally experience anything close to a slight trepidation in the face of a mathematical equation, allow me to alleviate your fears. Not only are the math like expressions I'll present fairly intuitive, but I'll explain everything clearly in words. 


To start we have to declare/understand a few things.


Now we can consider what happens to k (the constant of agency) as t increases approaching infinity (--> ∞).

as t --> ∞, D --> 0

as t --> ∞, K = K

as t --> ∞, AK --> guessing

as t --> ∞, R --> 0

as t --> ∞, T --> 0


From these expressions we can understand that t (game speed) affects how effective our skills are in disproportionate ways. This is a perfect example of how tier 3 adaptation comes into play with video games. Whenever you have a change in game speed, adjusting involves tier 3 adaptation. 


In addition to the above effects, we can also look at the ways players can augment one skill for another with tier 2 adaptation as t (game speed) increases to infinity. 


If you'll notice, all of the augmenting that can be done with tier 2 adaptation puts a great emphasis on knowledge and adaptation (guessing) skills. While design wise this trend can be a key part of a game's challenges and the overall gaming experience, from my experience there are many games that suffer from featuring game speeds that work against the full skill spectrum. 

Notice how the time to play each micro game gradually shrinks (see video above). You can feel it in the gameplay, and you can hear it in the music. The point of the tempo increase in the WarioWare series is to push you to your limits by making seemingly easy/simple games deceptively difficult. 

It is not common for games to feature increasing game tempos. The following is a list of games, modes, or levels that have successfully designed challenges around the disproportionate decay of the skill spectrum as the game speed increases.


In part 18 we'll check out the flip side, ie. what happens to the skill spectrum as the game speed decreases. I think you're in for a surprise. 

Article originally appeared on Critical-Gaming Network (
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