Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chess and Starcraft

Today is going to be a bit different from my usual 3 Gs.....but its another G that I enjoy a lot, Gaming!

Now, some people hearing "gaming" and sneer at such a "waste of time".  That's fine.  Simple solution...don't play.  However, for many people gaming is a fun activity to share with friends.  For example, I play a lot of Starcraft 2 with high school friends that live in different areas of the country.  Using VOIP, we talk while we play.  Its a great way to share an activity and stay involved with friends I don't get to see very often.

In addition, studies have shown that games involving problem solving increase cognitive function and perceptual skills.  Another study of laparoscopic surgeons found that doctors who played video games were faster and less likely to make errors than their peers who did not play. 

Now that the "video games are bad.....mmmkkkaayyy" counter arguments are out of the way, I want to compare a modern Real Time Strategy(RTS) game to an old classic game no one would argue is bad for you: Chess, the game of Kings. 

A Chess board:

As everyone knows Chess a 2 person game, turn based game played on a board, where the players start with an equal army that can only move certain ways, and tries to force the other player into a checkmate.

A Starcraft 2 map:
Starcraft 2(SC2) is an RTS (in other words, both players make moves at the same time, instead of taking turns), where each player starts with 1 base and 6 worker units.  See the blue crescents on the map?  Those are resource patches.  In SC2 you use workers to collect money, which is then used to make new bases, buildings, and fighting units.  There are 3 different "races" you can play, and each race has ~15 unique units.  They walk on the ground, or fly in the air and some air units cannot attack ground units or vis a versa.

Using these units, players attempt to keep their opponent from collecting money to build armies, destroy army units and buildings of their opponents, all while building their own units/buildings, collecting money, and scouting what their opponent is doing.

In summary, in chess you take turns and focus on army positioning to destroy each other.  In Starcraft, you have to build an economy, make your army at the same time your opponent is....oh and unlike chess, unless your enemies units are within a certain range of yours, you can't see them.

That's right.  Try playing chess while your opponent is making moves simultaneously, and you can only see the 2 squares adjacent to your own pieces. The difficulty, strategies involved, and additional requirements make SC2 a worthy successor to chess in the arena of strategy games.  It expands upon the army positioning that is so critical in chess, adding economic concerns, intelligence gathering and excellent hand coordination. 

Chess may indeed have been the game of kings, but Starcraft is a modern strategy game that I would argue is more involved, requires more thinking, and is more fun.

If any of that has grabbed your attention, check out this youtube video of a game between 2 pro players: Starcraft 2 gameplay

For anyone who enjoys strategy, competition, and out thinking opponents, I highly recommend checking out Starcraft 2.  Email me and we can even play some together.

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