How Starcraft Can Make You A More Successful Person

| by Justin

Like many people, when Starcraft 2 came out I rushed to get it and helped fill out the ranks in the multiplayer Bronze league. I played, knowing I sucked, but having fun all the same in epic noob battles. Being a proper nerd, I wanted to step up my game and really start to ladder- so I started learning the art of Starcraft.

In other words, I studied Starcraft. I learned through live training sessions, shout-casts of tournaments and high-level play, and daily lessons from Day[9]. Through this, and practice, I started to learn the core lessons required to succeed in the game. Soon I left my bronze league and entered  the world of silver and gold leagues. However I started to realize some practical, real-life applications of these lessons- I realized that the lessons to become better at Starcraft were lessons to become better at life:

Lesson 1: Have a Plan
Good Starcraft players start every game with a plan. These don’t have to be incredibly detailed plans, but really more of a general sense of what you want to do in a match. This is usually broken into chunks- what are you doing in the early game, do you go for early pressure or do you try a fast expand? What is the mid-game plan, what units are you going to try to win with, what is the main army composition going to look like? What is your late-game strategy?

Likewise, having a general plan in  real life is going to make you more productive. Broken into chunks- What do you want to accomplish today? Finish off this one project you’ve been working on, or work a little bit on a bunch of different projects? What tasks do you have to accomplish today- Knowing how many of these “opponents” you face is key to figuring out how much time you have to dedicate to each item of the day.

What are your mid & long term goals- When do you want to finish that project? What is the deadline to pick up that new hobby? Giving yourself timelines to complete items is a powerful motivator to keep slugging away on something, even when you don’t feel like. This is literally a way to gamify your life- goals with timelines to make yourself more productive.

Lesson 2: Build Orders
In Starcraft, a build order is literally the order in which you build your buildings/units. High level players usually have the timings of their orders practiced to perfection, so much so that they can do it on autopilot.

I’ve realized that we have build orders in life as well: The route you take to get to work, your routine when you wake up in the morning, even the way you dry yourself off in the morning are all examples of build orders- things you have done so much they are pretty much automatic. Being aware of these routines allows you to transition to the next lesson:

Lesson 3: Minor Improvements
If you’ve ever wanted to change your life, you may despair at the hugeness of such a daunting task. But the most amazing Starcraft players in Korea didn’t become grandmasters in a day, they did it through dedication and minor improvements every match.

This is so key to a successful player in SC, and to a successful player in the game of life- to be able to spot where your play broke down, choosing one small thing that you can say “Next match I will make sure I don’t stop making SCV’s.” or the real-world equivalent  “I will only check my email every 2 hours, instead of looking at every email as it comes in“.

These are achievable tasks, one thing you’ve chosen that will quantifiably make you a better player. Instead of fixing every bad habit you have, choose one and put all your concentration on correcting it.

This doesn’t just go for bad habits, being aware of the things you do on autopilot allows you to optimize those processes- find a route to work that doesn’t have as much traffic, or try switching up the order of your morning routine to free up some time.

Lesson 4: Play to Win
Day[9] describes this as the old “Just go fucking kill him” principle. Sometimes a player will get so caught up in having their perfect build order, or having the perfect unit composition, or scared that one of their expansions is poorly defended, that they’ll forget to just go in and destroy the opponent. Other times a player will perceive the enemy is a greater threat than they actually are, and convince themselves not to attack.

We have the same problem in life. Sometimes we get so caught up in the ancillary tasks (keeping everyone in the loop, getting feedback on a project, reporting your progress) that you lose focus on just finishing the damn thing.

The result is wasted time, time that could be put to use making yourself a better person. Time is the most important currency there is, and we all don’t have enough of it. That’s why if you don’t go for the proverbial throat, you’re not going to be fulfilling your life as much as you could be.

This also means doing things with conviction. Go into a situation knowing exactly what you want out of it, and put your all into getting that result. There’s a difference between hoping for the best, and grabbing the best by the balls- that difference is the difference between winning and losing.

We are all players

Your game may not be Starcraft, but realize that you are a player in a game and the only one that guarantee your success is you. Starcraft can help teach these lessons because it is so competitive: skill, and the determination to win are such necessary components for success. In today’s society, a similar attitude needs to be taken in order to for you to be as successful as you deserve to be. We’re living in a world where you need to stand out, and the only way to stand out is to do stand out things. You don’t need Starcraft to learn these skills, but you can learn them from this game.

En Taro Tassadar,
Justin Nearing [Looking for a job!]

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