I was talking with a friend last night, and she remarked on the fact that I seem to devote an inordinate amount of thought to the games I play and would like
to play. I realized she's right; I am constantly trying to break down the elements of games that I play, looking for isolated mechanics and analyzing the ways in which they interact with one another. It just fascinates me, in the same way that chemical reactions fascinate some folks and economic conditions fascinate others.
One question that I keep coming back to, as I watch my younger sister start to experiment with more complex games, is: What makes some people just plain better at games than others?
The main factor I've been able to articulate to myself is that games are like cars
. It is undeniable that some folks are more natural drivers than others. These people, generally speaking, are the ones who are able to most effectively assimilate themselves into the workings of the car, such that the steering wheel is more than a tool, it is an extension of the person's hand. When an unexpected situation arises on the road, this driver is more likely to react in an instinctual way to avoid disaster, because the capabilities and limitations of the car are more thoroughly integrated into his awareness.
In the same way, there are some people who are just natural gamers. They are able to absorb the rules of the game, and integrate those rules into their awareness in such a way that there is less need for conscious strategizing -- optimal plans just present themselves readily to the natural gamer's mind. Because of this, a natural gamer is more likely to easily slip into a new system of rules and utilize them in ways which are nuanced and varied. It's a very particular type of mind, and it absolutely amazes me to see it in action.
(Note: I am not saying that I am such a person. I very much suspect I am in the "average" range of this area. Still, I enjoy observing it.)