Noob Vs. Vet: What’s the Difference?

Last Monday, GamerCrash posted an intriguing article about the ways in which games condition us. It’s a subject that got me to think, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how strongly my current playstyle is influenced by learned behavior. So much of what I thought were my own ideas are really just reactions; everything from avoiding water in platforming games to exploring dungeons in the most inefficient manner possible. I definitely play games differently today than I did 10 or even just five years ago. Is it experience alone that facilitated these changes though, or could it be that there’s something else that separates us ‘pro-sauce’ players and the hordes of ‘noobs’ that jump in each year?

We gaming ‘veterans’ often like to make fun of new players. After all, ignorance is funny right? They don’t know that building your character(s) for magic is usually the easiest way to make them overpowered. They don’t know that advancing the story in an RPG often locks you out of side-quests. They don’t even know that regenerating health is a relatively recent invention. Sure, ignorance is funny. It’s also funny to see a friend fumble around in a game series they’ve never played before, but also one that you know backwards and forwards. It’s certainly funny and even frustrating to see at times. However, just like our previous experiences define the way we play, so too does their lack of experience inform the way they play. And the real kicker is that they just might be having a better experience because of it. Experience really does make all the difference there.

It really is just a matter of not knowing any better. Unfamiliarity with gaming conventions means that a player won’t spot them as easily, if at all. This means that they won’t be pulled out of the experience as often, because they won’t be noticing things like large open spaces or an over-abundance of chest-high walls. Dungeons remain cool labyrinths to bravely forge through instead of getting reduced to an exercise in picking out which room(s) will wind up being boss areas or points-of-no-return. It’s not that experienced players can’t get immersed in an experience. We probably wouldn’t still be playing if we couldn’t. It’s just that our knowledge makes it more difficult to achieve, and even then our actions and methods will still be almost subconsciously influenced by what we’ve played in the past. In the end, I believe this also creates a difference in what experienced and inexperienced players want to get out of their games.

It’s a difference of expectation. Those of us who’ve been playing for a while want to see new things. We want to see things that will twist or even break our expectations. We demand better, but are often disappointed when ‘better’ is interpreted as “the same as before, but prettier”. We’re the players that want to be challenged; who want to see new and experimental ideas come to the fore instead of giving way to that which has come before. New and inexperienced players simply don’t need those things yet. The large-scale, “play-it-safe”, releases are enough for them, because such games are still new to them. What need does one have for the envelope to be pushed if they haven’t caught up with it yet?

In the end, it’s really just a difference of perspective. Newer players simply see games differently than those of us who’ve been around the block before. We may find it frustrating that disappointing games are held up in large part by those who probably don’t know any better, but I believe that it’s important to remember that we’d probably be right there with them if we had only just recently started playing games. Playstyles, perceptions, expectations, and perspectives; experience is what makes all the difference in each case, and is ultimately the primary difference between new player and old.

How have you changed as a gamer over the years? How have your own expectations changed as you’ve played?

Featured image from Flickr user: Shaunté Symone (cc)

14 thoughts on “Noob Vs. Vet: What’s the Difference?”

  1. I have never been really great in general at games. Also, I’ve never been very competitive with games so I never compare myself to other gamers. It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. We play games and that’s it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like to think I’m pretty good at games, but when I play against others, I often lose. I can be quite competitive, but for my own pride, it’s often best that I’m competitive in a more distant fashion, heh heh. But you’re right, in the end, we’re all gamers.


    1. That reminds me of the first time I fought the final boss of Majora’s Mask. Took me an hour. Now it’s done in probably 15 minutes. Final Fantasy bosses still take me forever, though.


  2. This is a really interesting discussion, and one that’s been on my mind since seeing a video recently on the question “what is a ‘hardcore’ gamer?” Though I don’t think of myself as one, I suppose that if someone looked at how long I’ve been gaming, I could be considered “hardcore.” But really, I’m effectively a noob each time I start a new game, even if it’s a game with which I’m familiar. Like with Yoshi’s Wooly World, neither having years of platform-gaming experience nor having played the game on which it was based helped me out all that much in the beginning. I still had to traverse early levels just like anyone else – learning the ins and outs of what I needed to do. In fact, I’ve watch new, younger players pick up faster on the game than I ever could!

    The biggest thing that’s changed about my own playstyle is that my reflexes and coordination just aren’t as spiffy as they used to be. I can really tell this in replaying Banjo-Kazooie. Like in the Freezeezy Peek challenge in which you have to fly around knocking off the hat of the snowmen that throw snowballs at you. I had the worst time trying to complete that challenge — I just couldn’t hit the marks! Flying in the game generally is proving to be a headache for me now, but years ago, I doubt I balked at all. It was just fun. Now I have to work harder to complete “simple” things in games. Boy, does it stink getting old!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Perhaps that’s part of the difference between “new” and “veteran” players though. New players have no choice but to take everything as it is and learn everything with fresh eyes. Long-time players on the other hand, rely a bit more on past experience and expectations to inform how they play new games, though perhaps not always to their advantage.

      In regard to that snowman challenge, I’m pretty sure that on was always awkward. Flying with any sort of precision in either Banjo game was always a tall order.

      The real test is how many tries it takes you to beat level 2 of that alligator challenge in Bubblegloop Swamp! :D

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ack, I had forgotten all about the alligator challenge! I’m not quite there yet, but I will be soon. …and now I’m not sure I want to be, haha.


    2. Though I’ve played games for my entire life pretty much, I would never call myself a “hardcore” gamer. It’s not a very positive sounding term. It’s almost like calling yourself a hardcore drug addict. Video games, while they’re the best form of media, are not all that much different from just being a drug… It’s a bit tough to explain.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It’s just a matter of needing a better term I think. Most of us would probably call ourselves “experienced” or “long-time” gamers as opposed to self-identifying as “hardcore”.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mostly. I never like the word Hardcore. It’s so negative sounding. I’ve played Call of Duty for the most part, but I’ve evolved since then. I said so in my Black Ops 3 review.


      3. I consider “hardcore-ness” in relation to individual games. Like, someone who puts in 1000 hours in a single game is a hardcore player of that game. But you’re right, it does have a negative sound to it. As Hatm0nster said in his comment, we really need a better word for that kind of devotion to a game or games.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. That’s actually a neat topic I could say something about. This had got me to start thinking about how I could approach it, so I might just post about it. I’ve got plenty to say I think.


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