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Fair Game: A Noob’s Guide to Just About Everything

Column By Lisa Jonte on July 12, 2013

My friends, I had an epiphany today. Well, maybe not a whole epiphany, perhaps more like an epiphlet. But whatever it was, it was new and it struck me upside the head hard enough that I had to write about it:

People who are new to a thing, are generally pretty stupid about that thing.

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I know, I know, you’re all thinking, “Well, duh!” right? Of course you are. But the thing is, no matter how often we are new to something, (gaming, cosplay, cooking, international drug smuggling, what have you) once we learn our way around, we always seem to forget what it was like to be at the very beginning. What this means is, we wind up making the same mistakes again and again, every time we take up another new enterprise.

Well, no more! I’ve compiled a list of sure-fire de-noob-ification tips to help us (our friends and family) acclimate to just about any new hobby or field of endeavor.


It’s a fact, I have no idea what I’m doing.

1. Admit that you don’t know squat.

The words, “talent” and “prodigy” need to be stricken from the dictionary, and the person(s) who came up with them need to be smacked around a bit for inflicting so much angst on unsuspecting generations. No one, and I mean NO ONE, knows all about a new thing the minute they begin it. Everyone has to start somewhere, and even the kid who started out as a musical genius at six, didn’t emerge from the womb knowing how to play the tuba.

You cannot build on a missing foundation, and beginner skills (aka ‘the basics’) are the foundation of every mastery. So it’s not only acceptable to admit you don’t know anything, it’s absolutely necessary. No one is going to teach you those vital basics if you’ve bluffed them into thinking you’ve already got them down.

2. Ask for help.

There is no shame in ignorance. Shame only comes when that ignorance is willful, and worn like a badge. We’ve all met that one idiot, the one who took an advanced class without the prerequisites because, as s/he declared, “How hard could it be?” Don’t be that idiot.

Also, no one but a complete jackass would make fun of you for asking, so asking becomes useful in two ways: 1) It gets you the help you need in learning something new, and 2) It’s a handy way to identify the jerks in your new hobby or field of study.


No, seriously, “NOOB” is not an acronym for “Noble Order of Bagarre”

3. Do your research.

Asking for help is only part of the equation. Reading the manual, searching the archives, and practicing the art of whatever art you’ve chosen to practice is all up to you.

Asking for help is still a good thing to do, but relying on the hard work of others is not. It’s selfish and shallow. It shows a lack of respect for the task at hand and for those who are trying to master, or have already mastered it. Sure, your new friends may still help you when you ask the same damn question for the thousandth time, but I doubt it. So, don’t be that guy. Nobody likes that guy.


Please God, invent the Internet soon...

4. Don’t believe everything you read online.

Caveat Emptor, (let the buyer beware) should, in this case, probably be Caveat Discipulus, (let the student beware.)

Not all websites (or for that matter, books) are as well researched and edited as we might hope for. Seriously, there’s a lot of crap to wade through out there. One of the things that inspired this very article was a horrendously bad website that allegedly taught non-gamers how to speak like “an Internet Gaming Geek”. Don’t get me wrong, the writer of the article had some chops, but a lot of what he had listed was so dated it was laughable. Yet this was an article published this year.

So, be a good information consumer. Get multiple sources and compare them.

5. Relax.

You’ll get there. Maybe you won’t get there as fast as someone else might, but who cares? Whatever you’ve begun, you probably began it because it looked interesting, or fun. Let those feelings be your guide as you learn. Because if it becomes a grind, why do it? Sure, a bit of a grind may be tolerable in a game, but in real life, not so much.

Well, that’s it for this week. Now go out there and tackle something new, be it a new MMO, a new language, or really any new skill that appeals to you. (Except for that international drug smuggling thing, because I was totally kidding about that.)

And now, a few responses to last column’s comment thread:

SnarlingWolf said:  “Well for starters scientists have done studies which have shown that the human race is in fact getting less intelligent as the years march on.”

I think you’re referring to the study that appeared in Trends in Genetics last year?  Well, the results of a single (disputed, by the way) study aren’t necessarily fact, no matter how sensational, nor how often they are reprinted. Intelligence is amorphous and difficult to quantify. So don’t believe everything you read in the paper.

azzamasin said:  “Part of the reason I play is because I know there is no ending and my character is persistent.”

Okay, so you just wouldn’t play those MMOs that did have a definite ending. It’s a big Internet, wanting one kind of MMO to exist doesn’t mean that all other kinds should vanish.

ElderRat said:  funny you should mention LOTRO at the end - a prime example of a good challenging game that has been nerfed...”

Uh, yeah, that was in the responses section, and referred to the previous column: Pop Culture in World Building.  

Until next time, may your escort missions be few and your drops plentiful.


For more of Lisa's thoughts and insight try:

Lisa Jonte / Mother, writer, artist, editor. One time (print and web) comics creator, and former editor of the fem-centric GirlAMatic.com; now a secretive and hermit-like prose writer, (and not so secretive nor hermit-like blogger.) A gamer since way back, (no, seriously, waaaay back) her collection of gaming paraphernalia is older than most game store clerks.

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