Putting yourself in the newbie’s shoes

Written by: Novril

First of all, don’t let your frustration lead your way right into the extremely common trap of this mindset:

In order to teach well you first need to reach a position where you have a lot of knowledge and experience with the game. Where you can play at a decent level at least. But during your journey to get to that point you lost many things along the way.

To improve at the game you did what you had to do:

You got rid of bad habits.
You learned where to get information.
You learned how to approach new situations that are relatively similar to past situations.
You turned the basic things you learned into automatic processes so you can focus on the more complex things.

In short, getting better at the game also made you forget what it’s really like to be a new player, which in turn made you a WORSE teacher. In order to play well, you take so many little things for granted that you forgot they even existed in the first place.

Another problem is that the burden will never be equal. You have the knowledge and the newbies need the knowledge, but you can’t expect the newbies to just tell you what to explain to them. Because newbies don’t know, they don’t even know what they don’t know. It’s like asking them to point at an object without knowing what that object even looks like. Even if they look around and see all the objects around the room, how can they point at the right one if they don’t know what they should be looking for?

The burden is all on you, and the only solution is to force yourself into situations that will remind you what it’s like to be a newbie. Only this way you will be able to fill the gaps in your ability to teach, and minimize your own flaws.

The easiest way to do this is to start playing a new game, or a new character, on the side. Teaching aside, it can be good for your development as a player anyway, and open your mind to new ideas. But it will also remind you of all the obstacles you haven’t encountered in years. Knowledge obstacles, execution obstacles, and emotional obstacle as well, as it’s also beneficial to be reminded of the frustration of losing without understanding why.

You can also combine this goal with other local scene goals as well. If you have never played Tekken before, but you have a local Tekken scene, now you can join it and have two groups of people to play with, rather than just the one for your main game. If you have a friend who is weaker at the game than you, and it’s boring to play against him “for real”, you can level the playing field by practicing a sub character and make it more fun for both of you.

But when you do this, make sure to keep a small “journal”, or else you’ll forget again, just like you did last time. Every obstacle you face, write it down, and later write how you dealt with it. Then you’ll have some guidelines to use in order to teach other new players better.

And another thing you can do is to make it easier for the newbies to provide feedback via a game of “Hot and Cold”. They can’t elaborate on what’s missing, but once you show them different things, you can at least get simple yes/no answers if what you showed was what they were currently looking for. It doesn’t always give the most accurate results, but it’s better than nothing.