Great Game Skills
Is The Mathematician The Best Gamer?
I am going to assume we are talking about non solitaire games….
I think high mathematical skills allow a gamer to sense illogical rules or unbalanced play issues more easily. The may only need 1 game or less than a game to find holes in the game’s logic or balance. I think this speaks to your theory about Game Designers benefiting from having a decent math background.
For players, I don’t think high math skills(or the amount of math known/taken) has that much bearing on how good a person is at a particular game. However it may have a bearing on how quickly a person becomes good at a game depending on the type of game.
I’ve never whipped out my legendary calculus skills during a game. Nor has a game ever challenged my discrete mathematical skills. I don’t think I have ever lost a game based on someone’s polar coordinate mastery. So I don’t think great mathematical skills or knowledge directly correlates to great game player. Clearly there are younger people who have never sniffed higher mathematics that are excellent gamers.
If I were to list key game skills
Great Gamer Skills
Statistics & Probability
Its not how much math you know, it is whether you know statistics and probabilities that affects gaming skills. Like great poker players, great gamers are constantly evaluating the chance of something happening, or comparing probabilities of success when weighing decisions.
Almost all good+ gamers have good memories. Not only for what is happening during this game, but past games. Memory can be a skill that makes up for lack of probability theory. A seasoned gamer can remember previous games and instances and rely on memory of outcomes to roughly reflect a probability calculation.
Another poker skill that helps gamers is the ability to read people or know their patterns or preferences. Effectively memory of a person’s playing style. When choice X & Y are relatively equal, most good gamers will break the tie based on what they know about their opponent. These skills also help in any games with trading, bartering or alliances.
Logic & foresight
These skills involve understanding the ramifications of actions & seeing several moves ahead. All great chess players have this skill. If I do A, he will do B, I will be able to do C, he will be forced to do D, and I end up with E.
Lying & Misdirection
It is almost always to the benefit of the player for their opponents to not know what they are up to. Thus the ability to spin the occasional half truth or to camouflage real goals with feints and red herrings is an underappreciated gaming skill.
Until next time, Happy Gaming!