Debate: Twiching vs Skill - which is the cornstone of a good gamer.

I play MW2, most of the battlefield series and Team fortress to name but a few. I work withing the computer games industry and I have played just about every type of game out there since my dad got me my first console (Atari 2600) in the mid 80s. I have spent countless hours within the pursuit, certainly 10s of thousands of hours over my life time and while at times it has been a distraction from important things, I have not suffered or missed out on life(just slept less). The culmination of which could be described as being highly skilled.

Under any criteria, I could be considered and expert at computer games and the genre - Within the actual definition, I am actually a professional gamer - yet for some reason 12 years olds can kick my virtual ass - something which is damaging to the ego to admit certainly but it makes it no less true. How can this be? I have more knowledge and experience than them. I understand the gaming mechanics innately. I likely spend more time thinking about and playing the games in question.

I am certain the above sentiment runs true (for the most part) with many people here, as does the frustration that comes with it. What you may not be aware however is the concept of "twitch responses".

The twitch responses in relation to computer games is as you might think, the ability to react to stimulus - much like what is tested in the air-crew tests for the RAF et al. In gaming terms, its being able to press your shooty button quicker than the other guy.
Here is where the bad news hits. Twitch response becomes slower with age and being an innate ability, it is not something that is thought to be able to be trained to get better.

Does this make me a weaker gamer then? Should I hang up my hat now and retire with a good book with my slippers on?

If the answer is (as it should be) no, the debate can arise as to which is better: Twitching or Skill.

The reason I ask this is because as I started, I play a lot of MW2 and while I am very good at it, I cannot come close to being as good as some of the (non-cheating) guys on there. Most of my kills are made by knowing from experience where someone is likely to be and by understanding what weapon is best in a given situation. Generally begin good at the game. Most of my deaths on the other hand come from people spotting me and killing me before I can move - even worse when I start opening fire first.. from behind.. from cover.

Its the same in other games such as WoW, it is my job to be an expert at this and I am a damn good gamer in PVE but face me up against another player and my losses out-number my wins. Guitar hero and alike the, the same.

I am not a fan of Halo or the hooting yahoo xbox crowd that follow it but a work mate was getting very excited about some videos he found (while on his lunch break naturally :p ) of some "very skilled players"; These showed players not even bothering to aim or even see their target - in several cases, they had no reason what so ever to even suspect a player was hiding where he was, yet still there was the same version of "camper noob", "g18 fail" and "noobtuber". Not one of the clips show anything like what I would define as demonstrating anything like actual skill.


Kit Reviewer
You said it yourself - your clicky finger is getting slower with age. I'm heading the same way, and it sucks. This is why I prefer BFBC2 to MW2, as it's less about response and more about thought and teamwork - I'm too old to pull off 500m headshots while scratching my nuts.

However, I'm still one of the three best TF2 snipers I've ever come across.
True enough it certainly does and in games where the players are also the hosts the effect is often worse. On server based games though such as WoW, SC2, BFBC2 etc, this is lowered somewhat to a near negligible and what has the biggest effect outside of the persons playing is the hardware.
Again, on a console this is negated but on a PC, not so much.

The lag issue so something that always pops up and in fact if you ever hear about a rogue in wow complain that they are hit after they vanish, this is what is going on because it works around the time it takes both players to send signals to the server and back for it to take effect. Additionally, if a rogue vanishes, you have the 3-500ms on a good connection/rig still to start your attack before the vanish effect kicks in.
As you work within the gaming industry yourself, you must surely have a subtle suspicion as to why " Twitch " has a disproprtionate advantage over pure skill.

Quite simply......the bulk of popular games on the market do not reward a player for strategic thinking or other long term based preperation, but only cater for the reflex headshot ( for example ).Some head honcho assumes that the mass majority of their players are youngsters that cannot concentrate for more than a few seconds at a time.....I would say that a lot of games are intentionally dumbed down for this reason.

Take a look at some of the MOD teams out there making MODS for games such as Battlefield 2, HalfLife 2.

These guys and girls started off as enthusiasts, making a mod for a game that they loved.....several did it so well that they then went onto being a commercial game in their own right.

Half Life

1) Natural Selection 1 and the upcoming Natural Selcetion 2

2) Nuclear Dawn

3) Red Orchestra

Battlefield 2

1) Project Reality

2 ) Forgotten Hope

3) Eve of Destruction

Just these quick examples to highly popular mods that are loved by their fans....and every single one makes the game far harder than its donor game either in respects to having to actually think before acting or being very,very unforgiving to those that just leap about shooting everywhere....strict limits and penalties to running and shooting or sprinting, not finding hard cover or reloading in the open.They actually reward well thought teamplay and the tactical approach to gaming.

I would say that they have a great deal of older players.

In my own case, I have been playing games since my first computer....a Vic 20 and still play them now.However I have moved onto a selection of games that do not rely on cola/jaffa/pre-teen reflexes to prosper..

Fallen Earth

Global Agenda

Natural Selection


Kit Reviewer
BBB: I've just had a look at the site for that Natural Selection and it looks very interesting. I can't be bothered rummaging around in the loft for my old copy of Half-Life, but let me know when the sequel comes out on Steam.
I know what you mean. I play CoD2 on-line and often get comprehensively kicked by young fecking Russian kids (I know because some of them have mikes on).

I'm on the down-hill side of 50 y.o., and my ping rate is usually around 280 - consequently I'm getting shot a few miliseconds before I see the opposition.

What really grips my shit are the people who use aimbots - why bother - it's a only game? Where's the fun in having a machine do the work for you?
But doesn't the thought of experience count for something. I am usually found playing TF2 and just sitting back and watching the patterns develop cna lead to some really impressive kill streaks. Plus if your fingers are just to slow these days you can go Pyro or pray for Parkinsons.


Book Reviewer
judging by my own performance, I'd have to say right now twitching comes out ahead. and the jumping and leaping from side to side. I cant keep up with the little feckers. and I cant aim while I'm leaping around, so I end up having to stand stock still and make their job much easier.

however, most of the time with MOHAA I manage to do fairly well. ping and the way it affects your shots drives me ******* crazy though. nothing worse than SEEING you shoot some 12 y.o. gobshite for them to casually pot you and move off unscathed. grrrr.

incidentally, what do people think is the best way to go re mouse preferences? low sensitivity and big movements, or vice versa? I've got what I call a reasonable rig controlwise - MS curve keyboard, and a Logitech MX518 gamin gmouse on a steel mousing surface - both wired so I dont get any lag in input at my end.
This is why I don't play many online shooters. That and listening to pre-pubescent chavs (and foreign equivalents) spouting crap.

An evening's hunting on EVE, however, isn't overly affected by lag. I can recommend it to anyone who has spare time in the week. I should warn people that it can easily consume 161 hours a week. It would be more, but it's down for an hour a day server maintenance.


Book Reviewer
This is why I don't play many online shooters. That and listening to pre-pubescent chavs (and foreign equivalents) spouting crap.

An evening's hunting on EVE, however, isn't overly affected by lag. I can recommend it to anyone who has spare time in the week. I should warn people that it can easily consume 161 hours a week. It would be more, but it's down for an hour a day server maintenance.
ssshhhhh!! you'll get Jarrod started about computer game addiction...again.
What I have noticed is that twitching does appear to provide an advantage but only really when you have lots of solo players, I often get my arrse handed to me in BFBC2 but occasionally get some nice kill streaks.

However, when I play with with people I know, as a team, I tend to do alot better. Good team play can counter the reaction speed of the younger generation, not all the time, but I definately see better overall stats for myself when I play with a team where we know each others strengths and weaknesses.

I remember many moons ago when I used to play Typhoon Rising with guys from work, unfortunately I was the only one who lived 'out in the sticks' and was on dialup still when they were on broadband. I was a constant source of entertainment ingame, when I would run up behind one of the them, unload a full clip into the back of their head only to have them turn around and knife me. When you watched the replay I normally didn't even get a shot off, now thats proper lag :)
Lag is the biggest cause of frustration on the COD games. Its getting to the point where its taking a full mag c/w with a squillion hit markers to kill any 1.
I occasionally play MW2 and BFBC2, with my teenage son on line.

I am usually in the positives but not by much. He is unbelievably good at it, not only does he know exactly where to be his reactions are so much quicker, with him averaging 60-70 kills a game for negligble deaths.

He is repeatedly accused of using a modded controller but he doesn't. He even takes out whole teams of Yank kids playing snipers with a pistol. At the same time he will be sending messages to his mates on his mobile and/or laptop.

He says i play MW2 too realistic, i.e. i cower on corners and move too slowly, plus i look where you would expect a real person to be, so i don't see the 12 yr old hid behind a cardboard box in the open.

However i am far better on BFBC2, though i am nearly always a sniper as again in close up fighting i do not have the twitch responses required to be as quick as younger players.

Just wish they would ban under 18s from the online game.
Are there that many people out there on consoles with aimbots?
I usually find that people who lack the skills and do badly tend to accuse people who annihilate them of this when it's usually down to the fact that they are playing against a 12 year old ninja master frothing at the mouth on lucozade and jelly tots who has the added advantage of hosting the server and therefore lag has played a part too.
I must admit that when I first started playing FPS on my first console i did this, "they must be cheating, they're killing me as soon as I spawn".
In reality, they just had all the weapons and skills, I was a noob with no weapons or power-ups.
They are few and far between Billy thank god and its fairly easy to spot thanks to the killcam feature .

I also use killcam as a guage of how much lag im getting :omfg:

I dont mind being outplayed as Im not good at all but 1-2 seconds is taking the mickey as an advantage :scratch:
I agree 4EM, I'm just get pwned cos I'm getting old, that's my excuse.

I agree with the opinion also that on most mainstream games, using proper military techniques and doctrine will get you killed easier than 'spraying and paying'.
I think it's a , mixture of both reaction time and skill that makes a better individual gamer, but for team games skill beats all. You can't twitch yourself out of a team take down.
Just wish they would ban under 18s from the online game.
Gets my tentative vote in fact i'd boost it to 31 min age so I would be the youngster for a change :p
Trivial I know but a team (usually of 6-8 players) wins after 75 kills so unless your son is Jesus Himself or the other team members are playing with their feet then that seems like a very high average score.
Maybe he's playing domination or summat like.

Nice ratio but hardly playing the game objective (which isnt exactly news )
OP: good post.

Expert twitchers hand me my ass every time which is why I gave up on Day of Defeat. But in a game of skill and teamwork like Red Orchestra I can put in some respectable performances and get real enjoyment.

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