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Austin Routt
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Colorado
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Being great at board games at large, or at tabletop gaming at large, is pretty much just plain nonsense. No one person can be good at it all because there are simply too many genres, too many game mechanisms and strategies, and just too many damn games for that statement to make any sense. But I think we can all agree that some people are naturally better at that kind of thing, in a general sense, then others, in the same way that some people are naturally better at video games.

But are tabletop gamers generally better video gamers, and vice versa?

This is obviously not something I have done any research on, but I'll present my musings and readers can take them with a grain of salt and choose to agree or not (this is a forum after all).

What are the things that make somebody naturally good at a board game? We have all sat down to show our friends who have never played a good eurogame what it is like by making them play a game of Catan or Carcassonne. And many of us have been really pissed to get stomped by this novice, who somehow stomps us every single time we play consequent to the first one.

Obviously, most people who play certain board games regularly are going to be better than those who have never played, but why are some novices seemingly incredible at games they may never have even played? Also imagine the following: take a video game, let's say Rayman Legends. Now, have two people play it, one who only plays Call of Duty and Halo, and one who doesn't play games period (but is presumably understanding of how the controller works, etc). I'd bet money the Call of Duty player is the better player.

Probably, hopefully, most people agree. Whether or not you do, I think it's worth talking about transferable skills. We all believe these exist. Perhaps the most important skill, in my opinion, that explains all these phenomena, is the ability to think ahead, strategize, and adapt. When you can do that, you can be successful at any game. If you know how to appropriately move around a map and wait for safety in Call of Duty, chances are you'll bring that same thing to the table and be cautious and precise in Rayman Legends.

So, does this transfer to board games? Why not. The video game expert knows how to strategize in whatever game they play. The only difference with video games is the medium. Allow one quick generalization. What types of video games are probably most played by regular tabletop gamers? I'd bet RPGs. The most strategic games out there. It's the strategy connection.

So YES, I say that tabletop gamers are better video gamers, and video gamers are better tabletop gamers. In general.

Move it one more step and we can imagine lots of ways the strategy skill can apply to life. Many jobs require forward-thinking and strategizing. Designing experiments (are scientists more likely to be gamers than others? I do not know, but it would be fun to know) is a good example.

In conclusion, keep gaming!
 
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Greg
United States
Seattle
Washington
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"I was born not knowing and have had only a little time to change that here and there."
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There are so many generalizations here, it feels like I'm trying to punch smoke, but here are couple thoughts.

I would argue the reason why a veteran video gamer will have a better chance of beating a new video gamer, when they are both playing a game new to them, is that many video games involve physical skills, hand-eye coordination and reflexes. Someone who has played many video games will just have a better handle on what buttons to push. How many times will the newbie have to look down at the controller and go, "Oh crap! Where's the 'X' button?" Board games are not going to help you there.

That being said, video games have a wide range of genres. I suppose if I play a ton of Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization, then sure, maybe if I am playing someone who has never played TtA or any game like that and we are both playing our first Civ game on the PC, maybe I would beat them because I have some experience in managing resources. But, I don't see how any board games will make me a better Super Meat Boy player. In the same way, if you pit one of the best video gamers in the world against Magnus Carlsen in a game of Chess, who cares if it's on the computer? Carlsen will still destroy the video gamer. Improved hand-eye coordination and reflexes are not helping there.

However, like building up hand-eye coordination and getting used to the location of those 20 buttons on the controller which gives you a general boost to your overall video game skill level, I would argue board games carry a similar entry barrier with rulesets. If you are used to playing a lot of board games, you will just grok the rules faster, but once everyone gets their head around the rules, I think all bets are off and natural talent might start to take over.

For example, recently, I played For Sale for the first time, which is a super simple game to learn. One of the players in the group is not a gamer at all and he won easily. In real life, he is a financial adviser. I don't know if that means anything, but it might say something about the way his brain works. However, if I put Container in front of him, I'm pretty sure I would beat him, if we were both playing it for the first time, simply because I'm going to get my head around the rules faster. Once he played enough to clearly understand the rules however, I would lose my advantage I think.

Basically, I think there are some skills that you might have that are particular to your hobby that might give you a general, overall advantage over someone new. Once you nullify that advantage or you play a game that doesn't test that advantage, you tend to be on more equal footing.
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