Can Chess Make You a Better Gamer?

Posted by Jacob St. Martin on July 26, 2012 in Casual Gaming -- Share:

Games are like music, movies, and books. Most games enjoy a brief time in the world, and then quickly disappear for others to take their place. However, one game which has truly stood the test of time is chess. Few games have been around as long, and even fewer have been as popular.

Now, you may be wondering, how does chess relate to Big Fish Games?

Chess teaches us how to become better gamers, whether you’re a hardcore Hidden Object fan or an elite bubbleshooter. It’s a relatively simple game, but one which carries a multitude of complications which force a player to work for the win. While there are many things which can be gleaned from this venerable game, here are four basic lessons which chess can teach us about becoming better gamers:

1. Chess teaches Patience!

This is a simple, but difficult lesson. Chess, at its core, is a very simple game. However, unless you’re Bobby Fischer, it can take an absolute lifetime to master. The complex strategies and tactics needed to perform at an expert level don’t occur overnight. Sadly, perfecting them usually means losing – a lot.

This is where chess connects with games of all kinds. Getting good at any game takes time. This goes for Time-Management, Hidden Object Games, and even Match 3s. Embrace learning and finding new ways of doing things. More importantly, don’t be discouraged when things don’t work out the first time.

The challenge is being persistent when things don’t pan out the 3rd, 4th, or 10th time either. Most tournament players spend years perfecting skills before even making ripples at the tournament level. Like many hard things in life, the chance to quit is always there, but the reward comes through perseverance.

While not competitive, casual puzzle and arcade games have their own ways of testing the nerves. Staring at Ravenhearst’s screen for an hour figuring out a puzzle will fray anyone’s resolve. In times like this, it’s important to embrace the challenge. Easy games are boring, and there’s always the satisfactory feeling of conquest when a game has been mastered.

One important thing to remember, though, is that a game should always be fun. If you ever find the fun being smothered by irritation, quit for the day. The last thing you want is for a frustrating area to poison the experience. Walking away from a game can be a good thing, just remember to come back to it!

2. Chess teaches you how to be observant

Chess, even at its most amateur level, is a game of detail. Countless chess games are won and lost by silly blunders, while others are won by the smallest shift or weakness in an opponent’s position. Either way, it all comes down to the details.

The key is to “see” a game rather than just playing it. Each game has its own style, and it’s important to spend a few minutes seeing what that style is. A big problem is that many people want to rush through games. When they do, they end up missing important details and later throw their hands up in frustration and complain about a broken game.

While there’s no such thing as a perfect game, many headaches could be avoided by being observant. This particular point is especially true with Hidden Object Games, since they thrive on small nuances and clues. Getting stuck usually occurs when one very small detail has been missed. Methodically approaching puzzles and looking for effective inventory uses will take you a long way.

In a similar way, Match-3s and Time Management gameplay also benefits strongly from close observation. Noticing a small choke point or item can mean the difference between getting a new high score and restarting the level.

The key to success in any game is keeping your eyes peeled and noticing the small things. This is what separates decent players from great players.

3. Chess teaches finding a method to the madness.

In short, successful gaming is always about finding a method to the madness. Chess is not a game which rewards a random approach. There are overarching principles and applications which are inherently superior to others.

All successful games work on “systems.” Basically, there are sets of rules which decide what can and can’t be done. In addition, they also dictate what should and shouldn’t be done. For chess, the system is based off of how the pieces move. For a hidden object game, it’s how an item relates to an object, or how a puzzle’s pieces form a working process. The goal of any player should be to find the game’s logic and exploit it for maximum reward.

When it comes to chess. sometimes the best way involves sticking to fundamentals. This could be bringing all weapons to bear and strategically constricting an opponent like a python. Other times, crisp tactical play and sharp aggression will carry the day. There is always a best way of approaching a situation, and the true challenge is finding it.

Having a coherent system is something that every game worth its salt will have in common. A common outcry among gamers is “I’ve tried everything and I cant…” The truth is that they’ve tried everything they’ve thought of. They haven’t tried everything. Know this: every game and puzzle has a logical way of being approached. It may take breaking it down into smaller pieces or an out-of-the-box approach, but there is always an answer to the riddle.

4. Chess teaches planning ahead

One of the biggest flaws that beginning chess players have is their impulse to always play in the moment, without properly setting up a comprehensive plan. They’ll see a move which looks good, and then take immediate action. By five moves in, their position is a cluttered mess. For the remainder of the game, they’ll be one big piñata getting weaker and weaker with each swing.

An experienced player knows that success begins with setting attacks up. In fact, a great chess player will have a strategy already planned out before even sitting down to play. Simply put, the player who thinks 6 moves ahead beats someone who thinks 5 moves ahead.

How does this apply to casual games? All games require an element of planning ahead. Having trouble getting past a Match 3 level? Perhaps you shouldn’t have blown all of your bonuses trying to make it through the early levels. Is a Time Management game giving you fits? Try coming in with a game plan for getting a high score instead of perpetuating the haphazard tactics which you’ve been using.

Know how you will respond to a situation before it occurs.

Chess is an amazing teacher when it comes to games because its simplicity allows us to pick out great lessons for becoming better at it and other games. Keeping these four gaming principles in mind will turn you into a better gamer who will get the most out of play time. Games are fun, period, but they’re even more fun when you’re good at them.

Play hard and play well!

Written by

Jacob works at Big Fish Games out of Seattle. He loves to laugh, enjoy good food (all food except Avacados), and play competitive games of all sorts. When not gaming, he practices martial arts and has recently picked up snowboarding and dancing, with very mixed results. He loves a good challenge! Feel free to get in touch with him on Twitter! or Google+