Playing to Win

I recently finished reading the book “Playing to Win: Becoming the Champion” by David Sirlin. It is a fantastic book that applies to a lot more than gaming. It is more than just some specific tactics to use when playing a specific game, like some guides for games are, and instead offers various ways to think, analyze and train for gaming competitions.

It begins with addressing the mindset that one needs going into trying to become better at gaming. The first being the idea that we create rules that will artificially limit ourselves, then going on to dealing with losses, and finally the kind discipline you’ll need to really carry on.

After that it goes into an analysis of Sun Zu’s “Art of War” in the context of gaming. In this section he goes beyond the obvious places where it applies in strategy games like StarCraft, but also in our training and in the real world when dealing with opponents.

Next he talks about the various personality types and approaches to competition. He uses examples from the competitive chess world as well as the Street Fighter world to show what a lot of the best of the best have in common and the differences in their approaches.

Lastly he goes into really testing and preparing oneself. He talks about being the best from a random selection of people you happen to play is all well and good, but to really judge your skill and continue advancing, you have to enter in more serious tournaments.

A lot of the previous will likely be integrated in my StarCraft 2 playing and thought process. The final part though is notable to talk about. Recently, I started working for Mozilla, a company that happens to have a After Hours Gaming League (AHGL) team. Their showing in AHGL wasn’t great but just fielding a team is pretty fantastic.

My plans are to work on my skills and discipline in training, then try out for the AHGL team at Mozilla. From what I hear it should be taking place in a few months, so it isn’t a ton of time to train but that’s alright, it will force me to work harder and focus on the most important things. I’ll hopefully have the support and help of my friends who also play along the way.

I’ll be playing to win.

Get Involved

Getting involved is something I’ve blogged about a few times on here. Each time has been a pledge to get more involved in the open source community in different ways. I am more involved now than I have ever been previously. I feel comfortable finding an issue in a project, forking it, fixing it and sending a pull request. Also, I find myself writing docs for projects and sending them as pull requests as well.

I was reading a post from Alex Gaynor about funding open source developers. I am all for that and in fact am using Gittip to fund several developers. Currently, I only fund each developer $3/week, which only comes out to $13.50 a month for each of them. But, I am unsure how many people I am going to end up funding and want to feel things out a bit before I commit more than that.

Now I find myself putting forward a little time and money here and there to various projects but I still don’t feel like that is enough. I can’t seem to get past the 2-3 commits on a project then walk away mentality that I’ve built up.

My next goal is to become really involved in some project or community, and not because it is convenient but because I find it fun and engaging. In this goal though, I’m not going to beat myself up for not getting deep into a project. Just getting more commits in—be it docs, tests, or actual code—will improve my impact on the community. If I end up just being a nomad who dabbles in many projects but manages to consistently do that, I’m ok with that.