Video games as a skill?

Before I started thinking about this idea, I was easily frustrated by new gamers who couldn’t seem to grasp controls that are second nature to me. I have a friend whose family has never owned a single dedicated gaming system, handheld or otherwise. Even so, how hard can it possibly be to hold a Wii remote sideways and control the on-screen Mario with the directional pad and jump button? Even my little sister can’t do that effectively.

Naturally, this brought me to recognize that there is a skill for gaming! It can be practiced and honed just like any other skill.

The way I see it, video game skills can be divided into two categories: first, the overall ability to control games and second, the ability to excel at specific games.

Those of us who play video games enough can jump into and control basically any game. It’s not just that we don’t need to crack open the manual: it’s that we can use the input controls effectively. For example, the seemingly simple task of moving a character around in a 3-D world with an analogue stick has stumped more than one of my non-gaming friends. When it comes to teaching them how to use Link’s sword in Twilight Princess, it becomes a hopeless mess.

There are also specific games that can be mastered through practice. Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a prime example. Finding the right character and your personal play style are two keys to start winning battles. With practice and discipline, you can become unbeatable. I tend to be the best against my brothers in Brawl. However, they find it easy enough to win me at Mario Kart Wii.

So maybe skill in video games has nothing on say, skill in music. But there’s no doubt in my mind that gaming does, indeed, take skill. Take pride in it!


  1. Oh gaming is definitely a skill. In fact, each game and genre requires different skills to master. Need more evidence? Watch some world records or tournaments. Then try to replicate what you’ve seen and fail.

    But I guess there are also more general skills when it comes to games. In fact, I’d say games by default have one of the following skills required:

    1. Skill at navigating a 3D plane of existance (pretty tough for some people, supposedly disorientating).

    2. Reflexes/motor skills/reactions in general. Many people just can’t react quickly enough to obstacles to do well in many games.

  2. There’s definitely skill in most video games

  3. I definitely believe there is skill involved. My wife understands the basic, as you say, pick up a control pad and play, but she doesn’t play enough to be super skillful at a lot of games. I know that for myself, now that I’m an adult with less time to play and more things on my plate, I’m nowhere near as skillful as I was, say at 14 years old. I mean, I can still navigate my way through a Zelda game, but I probably die more now than I used to.

    Of course, if I start feeling like I suck, I just stick in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and co-play with my wife, and I feel like a master 🙂

  4. Oh yeah there is skills involved and if its a really good game lots of skills and no sleeping and when it comes to wii remote sideways playing games.
    I can’t do it because my thumb is to big and in the middle of playing I end up turning the console off by accident.
    One time I finally got something that has take several of my lives a couple middle fingers to get and when I was in the process of running back I turned the power off by accident and I never got that item again 🙁 I wasn’t willing to try it again I had have to the power turn off on me a couple of other times but not in mid process of getting anything.
    Bad thing about skills is that it is possible for your skills to get worn down and next thing you know your sucking at things you had never sucked at before and your like wtf is going on.
    I have had that happened to me recently and I can’t figure out where I went wrong :(.
    I used to be the master of gaming but now I feel like the person that knows nothing I have no earthly idea what happened to my skills and I’m not joking has anyone else have this happen please tell me that there is a cure.

  5. I am absolutely hopeless at any kind of FPS. Platformers, driving games, 3rd person action games, they are like 2nd nature to me, but hand me a controller for CoD or Halo and it just boggles me. I just can’t wrap my head around it. Movement isnt so much an issue but moving and aiming correctly, I always get the beatdown. Where I think I’m shooting is not where i am aiming. Crosshairs are no help. Inverting the camera is no help either. I am just useless. Now first person shooters are dominating gaming and I feel like an outcast. Thank the all powerful Atheismo that Nintendo are still around cranking out titles like Kirby, Mario and DK.

  6. Well, yeah!

    Isn’t everything you do a skill, though? I can walk, and eat solid food, but babies can’t. (Score: Me-1 // Babies-0)

  7. sure it’s a skill. the proper mindset is even somewhat athletic- not thinking, just doing.

    i think hours of mario kart and world driver championship likely helped produce my stellar driving record

  8. @ The Adza:

    I’m in the exact same camp! I’m great at driving games, flight sims, third person action (and music games) but I absolutely suck at 1st person shooters! I can make Mario run around an upside down pathway all day in Galaxy, but do not ask me to run with one thumbstick while aiming a weapon with the other–Can’t do it!

  9. Isn’t it horrible? Lol.

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