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Welcome! I am teaching law at St. Petersburg State University and engaged in legal practice with the international law firm Dentons. Major part of my research is connected to virtual worlds and massive multiplayer online games (a broad field which includes Internet law, video game law, virtual law and game studies). My legal practice is focused on providing support to computer game companies. This interest derives from my passion for computer games which I consider as one of the most important cultural artifacts ever created. Please note that this blog conveys my private opinion which is not necessarily shared by any organisations I am associated with. For more formal and detailed introduction please visit my website arkhipov.info which serves more as a 'business card'.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Mindset For Competitive Gameplay

Magic: The Gathering is one of my favorite games, whether it is played with paper cards or online (MTGO). Although I play MTGO only for competitive games as it is more convenient if you work.

My performance improved drastically when I learned a simple thing, the one which the players who are better than me probably understand from the beginning - players themselves are a part of the game.

The player's development which looks natural to me is as follows. At first, you enjoy just how the game mechanics work and learn it. Then you search for and memorize the knowledge of the elements of a game (in case of MTGO -hundreds of cards and rules pertaining to them). After this you play better, because you may make more reasonable guesses of how the game will develop.

Finally, it is a game theory applied: you understand that there are two (usually) players who make decisions based on limited information and expectations of (a) what the other player will do; (b) what the other player will do in response to your action; (c) how the other player will respond to your response etc.

It is this point where an MTGO match is close to a poker game. By certain actions from your side, you may make your opponent to believe that you have certain cards at hand (bluff) to make them play defensively. You will no longer want to "overextend" - play your strongest cards staight away, whatever gamebreakers you may have, and so on.

I think that this may be applied to any form of competitive gameplay.

It would be interesting to know if anyone uses this mindset in modern MMORPG PvP matches.