Introduction to The Art of Gamefare: Chapter 1

Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge

- Winston Churchill

“Good God, man! Don’t you realize these men are artists? You aren’t dealing with a bunch of hod carriers or truck drivers. These men are artists, skilled artists, dammit!”

- Vince Lombardi

“The greatest general is he who makes the fewest mistakes.”

- Napolean Bonaparte

Art:

1) the production or expression of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance

2) a department of skilled performance

3) skilled workmanship, execution, or agency

-The American College Dictionary, Random House 1968

Introduction To The Art of Gamefare

This book is about winning. Even though the concept of winning might sound nebulous and amorphous, it does have an underlying structure. This book is about that structure, the structure of success. The platform we will use to study this structure is multiplayer video games.

I love playing games. Game designers create these magnificent worlds where we can do just about anything. We are unleashed upon these playgrounds, along with many other players, all with the express desire to wreak havoc upon each other. But along with the joy of playing games several hours a day over countless nights, I also love the challenge, the challenge of defeating my opponent. According to the Interactive Digital Software Association’s 2001 report called “Essential Facts about the Computer Industry,” 71% of gamers play for the challenge. What challenge is this? Defeating our opponent is the challenge! When we think about all the skills and abilities we must learn, all the maps we must memorize, and all the tools we must learn to use, the real reason behind these, and all efforts, is one objective: to defeat our opponent. For many players, winning is the ultimate challenge. While coaching the Green Bay Packers football team, Vince Lombardi not only led the team to six Super bowls, but he also turned five of them in to victories. He said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” To him and his team, the purpose was clear – win. In Miyamoto Musashi’s book on strategic sword fighting, The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings, he says, “The main idea of my Way is to win. There is nothing else.”

We shall call players that play to win Gamefarists. They are martial artists, playing the game with the intention of victory. Like chess players, they move their pieces with the express purpose of defeating their opponent. Look in any bookstore and you will find many books that teach you how to play good chess. Within their pages they have pages full of scenarios designed to test the reader on proper and advantageous moves. After you make your play, there is an answer sheet that shows you the best move and why. This book serves the same purpose for the multi-player video game player.

Gaming as an art form

To explain what the Art of Gamefare is, we must first talk about art. One might not necessarily think of gaming as an art form, but when you see a cunning gamer command his team from certain defeat into victory, it easily becomes understood. Field Marshall Sir William J. Slim said, “To watch a highly skilled, experienced, and resolute commander controlling a hard-fought battle is to see, not only a man triumphing over the highest mental and physical stresses, but an artist producing his effects in the most complicated and difficult of all the arts.” One has to be amazed when the last remaining player wins even though outnumbered by several opponents. The skills and abilities required to make such a comeback are mind-boggling. To further understand the skill involved, think of it this way: what abilities and skills would a person need to enter a ring and simultaneously defeat four other boxers? Just like any art form, it requires skill, dedication, knowledge, and practice. Years of game playing are needed to reach this level of ability. For some it takes longer than others. This book will help you make that transition more quickly and completely.

I have always felt that art is the combination of two things: structure and volatility. The structure of art is the rules, principles, laws and guidelines that are fixed. They are the bulwark and underlying frame of the art that support the emotions and thoughts that compose any art form. For example, no matter what design an architect has in mind, he or she must still deal with the laws of physics. Their building can be a square, a circle, or an upside down triangle; but no matter what the shape, the laws of physics must be obeyed. To ignore them would doom the building to destruction. The structure of art can be taught and learned.

The counterpart of structure in art is volatility. This is the amorphous desires and emotions that mold, create, and motivate art. When architects want their project to have a certain feel, this is to what they are referring. Volatility deals with will, so it cannot be taught but must be felt and experienced.

Structure is the building blocks used for successful art. The dynamics is the application of the structure to create successful art. An architect must deal with both the science and physics of building structures as well as the emotions and aesthetics portrayed by their structure. To write this sentence requires two things of me: I must have a dynamic thought, and I must then follow the structure of grammar to form an understandable sentence.

Carl von Clausewitz states, “knowing is something different than doing. The two concepts are so different that they should not easily be mistaken the one for the other.” This books deals with the science and structure of winning. Even if you were able to completely understand all the concepts within this book, you would still have to learn how to implement them on your specific the battlefield. It’s not enough to know the importance of accuracy if one doesn’t know how to use their tools accurately. It’s not enough to know the importance of speed if one doesn’t know how to get to a flag faster than their opponent. These concepts beg to be implemented. Frederick the Great said, “War is not an affair of chance. A great deal of knowledge, study, and meditation is necessary to conduct it well.” So to be successful, it is your responsibility to not only learn the concepts, but also learn how to implement them in their specific battlefield, be it in space, underwater, on land, or in the marketplace.

What is The Art of Gamefare?

Now that we have defined art, let’s talk about this word ‘Gamefare’. Gamefare is conflict in a virtual, digital gaming arena. It is a battle in the virtual online world between two or more opposing entities. Gamers enter this world for many reasons, but by the end of the game the outcome will be one winner. In this world you will be opposed by one or by many. If there is an objective, your opponent will attempt to prevent your success. At the same time, your opponent will also have their own goals that they need to complete and that you will need to prevent. It’s a dynamic world of opposing forces where confusion, chaos, and uncertainty reign. Our goal is to swim through this fluid environment and successfully complete our goals. How is this accomplished? When the gamer knows the structure of success, they can easily traverse the gamefield.

Having defined both art and Gamefare, we can rephrase “The Art of Gamefare” as “The structure and dynamism of conflict.” We can even call it the rules of success. These rules are the same whatever profession or art you practice. Wherever there is conflict, these concepts can be applied. The same rules that General George Patton used during World War II to defeat the Germans helped Vince Lombardi win five Super bowls. The same principles used by Henry Ford to build the Ford Company and David Packard to build HP are used by a pack of lions in the Sahara desert to successfully capture their prey. And the same moves made by a politician seeking re-election are made by a game player trying to capture the flag for the win. The Art of Gamefare is the grammar of success and the building blocks of a winning strategy. They are the successful person’s tools no matter what they seek to accomplish. It is the art of removing resistance and defeating your opponent. The rules of Gamefare allow your smaller force to defeat a larger and more powerful one. If Gamefare is conflict, then The Art of Gamefare is conflict resolution. It’s pure martial arts.

When great resources are on the line, winning becomes an important outcome. Success is important to everyone, but it is more important in some particular professions than others: the military, business, sports, and politics. So winning is an important topic to coaches, soldiers, politicians, lawyers, and businessmen alike. They all seek success because great resources are sometimes at stake. That being the case, the one occupation that contributes the most to the science of success is the profession that deals with the ultimate resource - survival. So even though we will quote from many sources, most will be from the military.

The Art of Gamefare is a conceptual model for success. It is the paradigm of success that anyone can use as his or her guide to victory. Think of it as a map to winning. Miyamoto Mushashi’s reason for writing The Book of Five Rings was to guide the reader. He said, “If you do not have a map in unfamiliar terrain, how can you hope to get to where you want to go without difficulty? Even if you have directions, you may still have to negotiate roadblocks along the way.” As a player, you can either play thousands of games and learn the principles yourself or you can just get a map and do away with all the frustration of getting lost and increase your effectiveness on the battlefield.

Excellent gamers, or gamefarists, play multiplayer games like extremely fast-paced virtual 3-d chess games. The gamer must think before moving and calculate risk versus gain in real time. They believe that there are good moves and bad moves. They also believe that there are good moves and better moves. The Art of Gamefare is the guide to making the best moves. A victorious game is made up of a hundred small victories. A lost game is the culmination of many bad decisions. I have lost many close games because of one seemingly insignificant, but wrong, decision: I didn’t check when I should have, I attacked when I should have retreated, or I spent resources on one thing when I should have spent it on another. Like a carpenter building a house, you better have a real good foundation unless you want the house to come tumbling down.

There are laws in this structure, and they are not to be broken. There are also principles, concepts, and rules to be followed. These guides are not as hard and fast as rules because their outcomes are not as quickly discernable, but the outcome is still surely the same – failure. Follow these guides and you will succeed. Ignore them and your success is at jeopardy. Just as it is not advisable to drive through a red light, it is a good idea to follow the structure. Can you win without following the form? Yes, it is possible, but not guaranteed, and you will win only against mediocre players. You will not beat the best gamers. Your success will depend on variables like the skill and abilities of your opponent. Sometimes this ambiguity is acceptable, but sometimes it is not. Following The Art of Gamefare guarantees your success.

To the frustration of many players, the structure to success is somewhat unspecific and general. This demand is necessitated by many reasons, including the fluidity of the battlefield, the unlimited types of battlefields, and the vastness of human ingenuity. This structure must work in a battlefield that is never static. It must also work in all battlefields, be it in space, underwater, on land, or in the market place. And it must also take into account the endless possibilities of human creation and ingenuity. The Art of Gamefare speaks of the grammar of success, but it will not tell you how to achieve it. The structure does not care how it is achieved, just only that it is achieved. Someone’s interpretation of speed might be using a jeep to take a shortcut while another’s translation might be flying a jet and parachuting into their destination. Just like grammar tells us the structure of an understandable sentence but not the sentence itself, it is up to the reader to know the situation and come up with the winning strategy. The difference between someone who knows The Art of Gamefare and someone who does not is the same difference between an inexperienced fighter and a martial artist.

Inexperienced fighter

Hit hard, hit hard, hit hard, hit hard . . .

Martial artist

Block enemy strike with meaty part of inner arm, distract opponent with elbow strike to face, grab back of their head with both hands and pull them into knee strike, grab their shirt and push out with furthest hand to throw them down, strike face again to distract . . .

It is the structure known and used by the veterans that allows them to succeed. That is why martial artists can fight several opponents at a time.

The purpose of The Art of Gamefare

Why do we need a structure for success? After all, there have been and will always be many successful gamers and successful people from here until eternity. This is true. There are many people who know how to win, but if we were to ask them to explain their success or to teach someone else how to be successful, how many different answers would we get? Would we get a clear and elegant thought-out structure or would we get hesitation and confusion?

The Art of Gamefare has many purposes. Its ultimate purpose is to expedite decision-making and maximizing results in the gamefare. Of all the activities a person can do, thinking takes the longest time, and time is one of the most precious resources on the battlefield. We don’t have time to think during a game. Either we do or do not know what to do. Gametime is Showtime; the curtain has been raised and it’s time to perform. We don’t want to think, we want to act! Imagine calling for an ambulance and and after they arrive the paramedics start reading the manual on first aid! Ideally, once you read, digest and understand this book, you will know how to succeed. Then it will only be a question of doing. This book is a culmination of many minds and many experiences. These concepts are several millennia’s worth of knowledge. You could figure it out yourself, but why when it can be read?

This book is also to be a conceptual model for success allowing easier discussions between veteran gamers talking about winning strategies. Many times I have listened to veterans arguing whose strategy was correct and who’s was wrong when the fact is they were both good strategies and it was just a question of which one was correct for this situation.

And with 145 million gamers right now in America alone, there are some players that honestly need help winning. Veteran gamers intent on winning will get frustrated playing with novices that play no better than moving targets. The online world can be very harsh for the novice seeking answers. I wrote a book I wished I had when I started gaming.

This book will also offer a common lexicon of language to players who play together. Clans, or groups of gamers who often play together on the same team, will get value out of being able to have their new members come up to speed of the veterans in a shorter amount of time than it would be to explain everything to them.

Why now?

Now, even though we have been fortunate enough to have these authors write their books, comparatively little has been written about the structure of success. I contribute this lack to its difficulty. Describing success is difficult. The authors who have ventured the closest to the truth still missed important information. Describing something so vast and fleeting as winning and how it applies to the real world is a daunting task. But here lies the advantage of the gamer. Our world is very simple, with given rules, a small battlefield, and where all the players are known. Though still difficult, it becomes magnitudes easier to discern the success’ structure.

But our advantages do not there end, for there is another important one to be mentioned. When Carl von Clausewitz wrote On War, his sources for education were two: his experiences in battle, and history itself. History itself is available equally to us all, but experience varies from one person to another. Guessing that Karl von Clausewitz was personally involved in 100 battles, think of how that compares to the individual conflicts entered by gamers! Many players have had a decade’s worth of multiplayer gaming, and I personally know many that spend several hours a night playing. If a gamer plays ten to twenty games a night, five nights a week, then we can see that they can be involved in as many a thousand battles in their lifetime, and add to that the personal nature of each fight only involving from duels up to 32 versus 32 players. In war, just a few battles can change a new recruit into a hardened veteran. Can we imagine what several thousand battles would do? Because of these advantages, the structure comes easier then ever before to a veteran gamer. That is why games contribute to the finding of the structure to success.

Duality in The Art of Gamefare

Something to discuss before we talk about the specifics of The Art of Gamefare is a special and powerful number: two. It is powerful for several reasons. The number two suggests another part. Like a coin has two sides, many things in conflict have two sides. Two implies a counterpart, be it an opponent or a counter-strategy. Everything in Gamefare has another side, its antithesis. Strength’s counterpart is weakness and structure’s counterpart is dynamism. The great strategist Liddel-Hart said “every problem, every principle, is a duality. Like a coin, it has two faces.” In Gamefare there exists many ying-yang partners, like offensive and defensive, advantages and disadvantages, attack and retreat, fluid and rigid, near and far, fast and slow, combined and separated, active and passive, and win and lose. This property of battle creates a sort of tug and pull, a wax and wane of forces. The Marines Manual on Warfighting says “The flux of war is a product of the continuous interaction between initiative and response.”

This duality comes from a law I have learned to believe in: everything has a counterpart. For any action, there is a negating counter-action. All things have an opposite force that will nullify it. The importance of this law is in what it implies, that everything has a weakness and everything has strength. A gamefarist’s bread-and-butter is finding weakness and strength. Sometimes it’s hard to believe and hard to find, but everything has its opposite. Our job is to find and exploit it. We shall discuss this fully further on.

Another reason for the duality in this structure lies in the properties of action and decision-making. The gamfarist is a highly proactive player. Winning requires it. Choices have to be made and put into action. To illustrate my point, your help is needed, so please indulge. Please choose one from these choices: circle or square. Did you choose? Excellent! Now please indulge me once more. Please choose one item from the following: pig, bat, squirrel, or ferret. Did you choose? Excellent! Now my question is, which one took longer? Personally, the more options I have, the harder it is for me to choose. Because of the enormous amounts of decisions made during the course of any game, decisions must be made quickly and effectively. Large victories are created by thousands of small ones.

The presence of duality in Gamefare does not end there. In practicing the Art of Gamefare, you will find that success will require you to do two tasks simultaneously. Like a business person has to be not only concerned about profit but also about costs, a gamer has to be concerned about the amount of damage they can produce upon the opponent and the amount of damage they can incur. A gamer concerned about speed will not only have to become faster, but they will need to slow down their opponent. There is no such thing as pure defense or pure offense, but a transparent ebb and flow between the two. Just like we must breath in and out to live, there are many concepts and actions in The Art of Gamefare that will have conjoining partners, twins that work hand in hand.

The Opponent

Our challenger is an important, if not the most important, part of our competition. I have seen players play their games with no thought given to their challenger and their affect on the battlefield. Because our greatest advantages come from knowing our challenger, this is a grave mistake. So I recommend this assumption be made throughout the book: your opponent is as good or better than you. Thinking we are better than everyone else is dangerous and a fatal characteristic for a gamefarist to own. We may be better than our opponent, but they might be better than us. If we intend to succeed, we cannot leave victory in the hands of such variables.

When in competition, the better player will see the game through the eyes of his opponent. However, to get to this level of awareness, the player spends much time listening and learning about his opponent. Only by respecting our opponent can we reach this level of sympathy. Dismissing, disrespecting, or ignoring our opponent leads to our vulnerability. The best players respect each other. Like a chess game, the competition is a serious but friendly competition, a point seldom mentioned online. We remove conflict within ourselves by being good sportsmen and sportswomen. Play games like the opponent is your friend, for in this connected world, who knows? They might be.

The Art of Gamefare is effective on either a single opponent or an opposing team. Like a magnifying glass, anything under its focus is prepared for defeat, whether we are looking at the entire opposing team or just one of its team members. The rules of winning apply to all, from the opponent’s smallest unit to the opponent’s team as a whole. That characteristic is noted in The Book of Five Rings when the author says, “When you have mastered the basics of sword fighting you will be able to beat one man or many men. The result would be the same if you were fighting a countless horde so long as your strength remained with you.” Because of this attribute of Gamefare, whenever we refer to opponent, the challenger or their team can be substituted in its place.

Onward!

Now that we have thoroughly discussed some of the advantages and properties of the structure of success, we shall proceed with specifics with the Principles of Gamefare.