An Examination of Skill pt.18
Thursday, June 17, 2010 at 6:13PM
Richard Terrell (KirbyKid) in Skill

If you haven't picked up on it yet, part 17 and 18 of this series investigates the limits of fast paced versus slow paced games in terms of skill. I believe a common misconception is that fast paced games (like shooters, fighters, and other action games) require more skill to play especially at a highly competitive level than slower paced games. But as I've explained, the faster a game's speed the more skills diminish and the greater amount of stress is put on knowledge and a guessing (adaptation). In other words, the entire skill spectrum shrinks limiting the skills one can apply to a game to very small and extreme range.

This disproportionate decay of the skill spectrum as the game speed increases is similar to how Newtonian physics break down on a larger scale and as speeds approach the speed of light. Newtonian physics also break down on the quantum level in a very different way. With that said, let's take a look at what happens to k (the constant of agency) as t decreases approaching infinity (--> -∞).


as t --> -∞, D --> ∞

as t --> -∞, K = K or +K

as t --> -∞, AK --> ∞ - ∑T

as t --> -∞, R --> ∞

as t --> -∞, T --> (t1/t2)T


Play it here. 

Some examples of games that are designed around normal and slow game speeds are...


So what can we say about fast paced action games versus slower more moderately paced action games? If I had more data, more time, and some graphs, I could show exactly how quickly skills degrade on a continuous scale. I could pinpoint where I think several games fall in terms of their game speed and how it affects their skill spectrum to show that there isn't one formula or rule of thumb to hitting the sweet spot. In fact, there's a large window of game speeds that work well for any given genre. And unless you're interested in truly comparing the skill of one game versus another, calculating the differences due to slight changes in game speed isn't necessary.
Besides, most gamers really don't understand game design on a deep level. Furthermore, they don't understand the intricacies of player skill. I've been working on reaching this point since I came up with the basic ideas back in 2007. Most gamers don't necessarily pick the games they love based on skill or depth. Figuring out how people form their opinions is more complicated than what I've discussed here. However, we can look at what game design features make a game more likely to support high level competitive play. In part 19, we're looking at how players take games to the next level. 
Article originally appeared on Critical-Gaming Network (
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