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  • In 2019,

  • the highest paid athlete in the world

  • was an Argentine footballer named Lionel Messi.

  • And his talent?

  • Dribbling a ball down a pitch and booting it past a goalkeeper.

  • It's a skill so revered by fans and corporate sponsors alike,

  • that in 2019,

  • Messi took home 104 million dollars.

  • That's almost two million dollars for every goal he scored in season.

  • He's a pretty spectacular athlete by any standard.

  • But why is it Messi's particular skills are so valuable?

  • Sure, there are obvious answers.

  • We just have enormous respect for athletic prowess,

  • we love human competition,

  • and sports unite generations.

  • You can enjoy watching soccer with your grandfather

  • and your granddaughter alike.

  • But growing up, I admired a different sort of athlete.

  • I didn't just want to bend it like Beckham.

  • I loved video games

  • and I was floored by the intricate strategies

  • and precision reflexes required to play them well.

  • To me, they were equally admirable

  • to anything taking place in stadia around the world.

  • And I still feel that way.

  • Today, I still love video games,

  • I founded successful companies in the space

  • and I've even written a book about the industry.

  • But most importantly,

  • I've discovered I'm not alone,

  • because as I've grown up, so has gaming.

  • And today, millions of players around the world

  • need to compete in gaming centers

  • like this helix,

  • and large gaming tournaments,

  • like the League of Legends World Championships

  • can reach over 100 million viewers online.

  • That's more than some Super Bowls.

  • And Lionel Messi isn't the only pro getting [paid] for his skills.

  • Top gaming teams can take home 15 million dollars or more

  • from a single tournament like Dota's Invitational.

  • And all this is why traditional sports stars,

  • from David Beckham to Shaquille O'Neal,

  • are investing in competitive games,

  • transforming our industry,

  • now called esports,

  • into a 27-billion-dollar phenomenon, almost overnight.

  • But despite all this,

  • the skills required to be a pro gamer still don't get much respect.

  • Parents hound their gamer-loving kids to go outside, do something useful,

  • take up a real sport.

  • And I'm not saying that physical activity isn't important,

  • or that esports are somehow better than traditional sports.

  • What I want to argue

  • is that it takes real skill to be good at competitive video games.

  • So let's take a look at the skills required to win in Fortnite,

  • League of Legends, Rocket League,

  • some of today's most popular esports.

  • Now, all of these games are very different.

  • League of Legends is about controlling a magical champion

  • as they siege an opposing fortress with spells and abilities.

  • Fortnite is about parachuting into 100-person free-for-all

  • on a tropical island paradise

  • and Rocket League is soccer with cars,

  • which, while it may sound strange, I promise, is incredibly fun.

  • And yet, all of these three esports,

  • despite their differences, and most competitive games, actually

  • have three common categories of skill.

  • And I'm going to take you through each in turn.

  • The first type of skill required to master esports is mechanical skill,

  • sometimes referred to as micro.

  • Mechanical skill governs activating and aiming in-game abilities

  • with pixel-perfect accuracy.

  • And I'd most liken mechanical skill to playing an instrument like piano.

  • There's a musical flow and a timing to predict

  • in your opponent's actions and reactions.

  • And crucially, just like piano,

  • top esports pros hit dozens of keys at once.

  • Gamers regularly achieve APMs, or actions per minute,

  • of 300 or more,

  • which is roughly one command every fifth of a second

  • and in particularly mechanically demanding esports,

  • like StarCraft,

  • top pros achieve APMs of 600 or more,

  • allowing them to literally control entire armies one unit at a time.

  • To give you an idea of how difficult this is,

  • imagine a classic game like Super Mario Brothers.

  • But instead of controlling one Mario, there are now two hundred,

  • and instead of playing on one screen, you're playing across dozens,

  • each set to a different level or stage.

  • And now Mario can't just run or jump, but he has new powers,

  • teleportations, cannon blast, things like that,

  • that have to be activated with split-second timing.

  • Yeah, it is really hard

  • to play mechanically demanding esports like StarCraft well.

  • Now the second category of skill required to master esports

  • is strategic skill, sometimes called macro.

  • And this governs the larger tactical choices gamers make.

  • And I'd liken and strategic skill to mastery of chess.

  • You have to plan attacks and counterattacks

  • and manipulate the digital battlefield to your advantage.

  • But crucially, unlike chess, esports are constantly evolving.

  • A popular esport like Fortnite can patch almost every week.

  • And even the most competitive esports

  • like Rainbow Six Siege update every quarter,

  • and these changes aren't just cosmetic.

  • They introduce new abilities, new heroes, new maps.

  • Constant change requires adaptivity.

  • It asks esports pros to do more than just practice

  • but to theorize and invent.

  • Now, gamers call this constantly evolving suite of strategies

  • the meta, short for the "metagame."

  • And it would be like if every few weeks

  • the rules of basketball fundamentally evolved.

  • Maybe three-pointers are now worth five points,

  • or NBA pros can dribble out of bounds.

  • If this happened,

  • basketball would permit for new strategies to win games

  • and the teams that discovered these new strategies first

  • would have a big, if temporary, advantage.

  • And this is exactly what happens in esports

  • every time there's a patch or update.

  • Competitive gaming rewards its most creative

  • and unconventional thinkers with free wins.

  • Now, the last category of skill required to be good at esports is leadership,

  • sometimes referred to as shot calling.

  • Esports pros are constantly in private voice-chat communications

  • with their teammates,

  • supplemented by a system of in-game pings.

  • This is what allows a team of League of Legends pros

  • to coordinate a spectacular barrage of five-man ultimates,

  • flashing in to capitalize on a minor mispositioning by their opponents.

  • And leadership skill is also what allows game captains to rally their teammates

  • in moments of crisis

  • and inspire them to make one last risky all-in assault

  • on the opposing base.

  • And I'd argue this is the same type of leadership

  • exuded by executives and team captains everywhere.

  • It's the ability to seize opportunity,

  • clearly and decisively communicate decisions

  • and inspire others to follow your lead.

  • And all these three categories of skill,

  • mechanical, strategic and leadership,

  • they have a crucial element in common.

  • They're all almost entirely mental.

  • Unlike my ability to have a basketball career at five-foot-ten,

  • esports doesn't care how tall I am,

  • what gender I identify as, how old I am.

  • In fact, esports controllers can even be adapted

  • to pros with unique physical needs.

  • Look at gamers like "Brolylegs" who can't move his arms or legs

  • or "Halfcoordinated," who has limited use of his right hand.

  • And these pros don't just compete, they set records.

  • Now, I'm not here to argue that esports is some sort of egalitarian paradise.

  • Our industry has real issues to address,

  • particularly around inclusivity for women,

  • marginalized groups and those without equitable access to technology.

  • But just because esports has a long way to go,

  • doesn't mean its skills don't deserve respect.

  • And what particularly bugs me

  • is how often we ascribe such enormous value

  • to traditional athletic talents off the field.

  • How many times have we been in a job interview setting, let's say,

  • and heard somebody say something like,

  • "Well, John is a phenomenally qualified candidate.

  • He was captain of his college lacrosse team."

  • Really?

  • John is going to be a great digital marketer

  • because he can hurl a ball really far with a stick?

  • Come on, we would not apply that logic anywhere else.

  • "Stand aside, scientists,

  • Sarah is my choice to repair this nuclear reactor.

  • After all, she played varsity soccer."

  • No, what we mean when we say

  • John or Sarah is phenomenally qualified for a job

  • is that because of their experiences playing traditional sports,

  • they have developed traits with real value in the workplace:

  • diligence, perseverance, teamwork.

  • And think of how I've just described esports to you.

  • Doesn't it sound like mechanical skill, strategic skill, leadership,

  • wouldn't those develop all those same traits too?

  • And more to the point,

  • in today's fast-paced digital-office environment,

  • I think I might rather have a pro gamer on my team than a traditional athlete.

  • After all, I know they can be charismatic and decisive over voice chat

  • and I'm sure doing a lot of Zoom calls today in my business.

  • So maybe now I've convinced you

  • that esports and video games deserve a little more respect.

  • But if not, let me try to make one last final appeal.

  • Because look at it this way.

  • Our society is changing.

  • Technology is fundamentally infiltrating every aspect of our daily lives,

  • transforming everything from how we work to how we fall in love.

  • Why should sports be any different?

  • You know, I think of my own childhood, you know.

  • I grew up watching the World Cup with my family,

  • and I learned to love soccer in large part because I watched it with my dad.

  • And I would have loved doing anything with him.

  • And now I think of my own sons.

  • But instead of soccer, we're watching esports,

  • not the violent ones, mind you.

  • But I'm building the same sorts of memories with my kids

  • that my father did with me.

  • We're marveling at the same skill and reveling in the same victory.

  • It is an identical feeling of pure awe and excitement.

  • It's just a different game.

  • Thank you very much.

Transcriber:

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B1 TED esports skill messi mechanical soccer

How video game skills can get you ahead in life | William Collis

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/25
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