Being aware of your biases.

It’s recently been coming up in a discussion on fighters being too hard to learn (which they are) that people aren’t aware of their biases. So what is a bias? Traditionally we think of bias as being unfairly liking/hating something, however bias really is anything that affects your opinion on it. Mauled by strippers as a child and bayonetta might not be your thing, that’s a bias in a more traditional sense. Grew up on a dpad controller and never got the hang of analog sticks, that’s also an bias in the traditional sense.

But biases can be less obvious, some can go as simply as X to jump/Select things, O to cancel, possibly other main action. Good chance Square and triangle are attack buttons. Noticed I used playstation button names? That’s right, I’m biased as I don’t think in terms of the Xbox buttons. The learning of conventions is a huge part of our biases, and when things go against those conventions, no matter how stupid they might be, we tend to get worked up about it. Not that going against conventions is always good, and unless your new setup is genuinely better, it’s probably best to stick with convention when you can with control schemes…

But conventions, and bias affect how we can learn things. Fighters are unintuitive, for some people (although we are talking basic levels here, higher levels of everything are unintuitive), but some people they make sense. Usually you can trace that back to what those people might have learned before hand… If you played games like Golden Axe, streets of rage, Final Fight, ninja gaiden, and all those older 2d action games, you’ll probably find fighters easier. You are used to all sorts of 2d collisions, invulnerability, recovery, wake up in some cases and all those conventions part of that larger genre of ‘2d action’ encompassing quite a lot.

At the same time, I have no familiarity with the FPS genre. I didn’t play quake, not much of golden eye or perfect dark. I didn’t play system shock, bio shock, Deus Ex, I just haven’t really touched the FPS before, and continued to not do so because I didn’t before. And I increasingly don’t know how to, nor learn how to go about learning how to. Sure I get my WASD and mouse aiming at this point in games like Dragon Ages 2, but I don’t naturally work in that dual stick m/k way. And so I don’t get good at these games because I’m simply not aware of what i can be looking for.

Short story: You need to learn how to go about learning in an environment. You need to learn what stats might help you, like in a fighter, knowing how much meter you gain off everything is less important than knowing how to counter a few jump ins. But to know which is more important is hard. Learning how to learn is tricky, don’t take it lightly when treading into a new genre.

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