Training the Very Best

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My son is pretty good at videogames. Honestly, he’s really good. I didn’t realize it until a couple of years ago, but he’s been better than me at games for most of his life. To quote the great Son Goku, he’s like, a hundred times stronger than I was at his age.

In fact, he’s so strong that he regularly kicks my ass. In our last three sets of Guilty Gear, he beat me 5-0, 5-1 and 5-4 (using three different characters against my main, no less). I’ve often felt that he’s so far beyond me that there’s not much for me to teach him anymore. I go to him for advice after he whoops me. It’s not that I feel embarrassed or anything like that, but I want to help him get better.

He called me tonight after he played a friend online that he similarly destroyed (he beat him 5-0 as well). Afterwards, the friend asked him for tips too.

“I didn’t know what to tell him,” he said.

This is an area I can definitely help him in. We talked for a while, and I told him how to use the skills he had in adapting to his opponents to point out what they were doing wrong. “When you make an adjustment, make a note of it so that you can tell your friend what you changed. Even if you don’t know how to tell him what to do, you can tell him what you did and he can learn from that.”

My son has a lot of skill in gaming, but what he lacks is experience. I’ve been playing games for over thirty years, and I’ve learned how to analyze both myself and my opponent. But most importantly, through training with my friends and rivals over the years, I’ve learned how to give advice to help them get better.

It makes me happy that even if I can’t beat him anymore, which is one of the best ways to teach someone, I still have a pool of knowledge that I can impart to him. He’s on the path to being one of the very best to ever play fighting games. I don’t say that because he’s my son; I say it because I’ve played thousands of people over the decades and I can see when someone has what it takes to be great.

As his father, I’m grateful that we have a common interest that we can talk about and grow together in. I’ve started to see it less as me training him, and more as a partnership where we help each other learn. He has skills that I can learn from, and I have experience that he can ask about. Together, we get better and have fun at the same time.

And one day, he will be the best. I’ll make sure I help him get there.

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