A computer game teaches me to always play my “A” game even when the odds are stacked against me.
Practice, practice, practice. Every teacher and every coach will tell you that is the only way to learn skills. To practice and to learn them in the right order.
When you want to learn to tennis you’ll start with learning the forehand. When you’ve mastered that you’ll go on with the backhand and then the serve.
I don’t know what comes next because I never got that far.
When I started with the backhand I forgot the forehand. My coach thought I was faking and bullied me until I stopped with tennis.
Ten years after that I started fencing and again I wasn’t very good at it. In fact for six years I was the worst fencer of the club. But although we had a few very good fencer the majority of the members of the club just wanted to socialize.
I taught a number of beginning fencers the basics and everybody liked me for doing that.
Over the last year I’ve learned that forgetting skills after I’ve learned them is an intricate part of having autism.
This means that there always is a drawback in learning a new skill. I will forget a few skills in the process. Although they will come back I will forget them again the next time I learn a new skill.
Sometimes I have a hard time rembering what I liked about something when I only get worse while I practice and practice.
Two years ago I found a new hobby. Driving a car in simulation games. Games like Colin McCrea Rally (CMR) and Midnight Club.
In real live I don’t drive because I’ve problems observating traffic. Especially when I’m tired my field of vision become very narrow. So it’s very nice to drive in a game.
Off course I’m not very good at it. I loose most of my races. But what the hack. It’s just a computer game.
Two weeks ago I decided it was time for a change of scenery and I bought Colin McCrea Dirt.
Apart from a little problem with the controls CM Dirt is much better then CMR. It only has one problem.
In CMR you could play all the races. Even if you’ve lost you could go on with the next. In CM Dirt they changed that. With every race you win, you collect points and money. New races are only unlocked when you have enough points. So you have to win.
Playing as a rookie I found that there where enough races easy enough to win some points and unlock a few races. none of the new race where easy enough to win enough points. So there was nothing I could do then start again with some of the races I had lost. With a lot of luck and a little skill I won some.
After winning 15% of the races the program developed a problem. I lost the savegames file and had to start over.
The second round wasn’t as much fun. Again I had to drive races I had won easily, races I had won with a lot of effort and races I didn’t win the first time.
Last Sunday being bored I figured I might as well play a little Dirt.
When I started the game asked me whether I wanted to continue the Japanese race. I’d rather not but if you retire the game keeps bullying you (“Nobody likes quitters”) so I did and lost. The race in Japan is very difficult. A lot of tight turn and slippery roads make it almost impossible. I finished 20th on a field of 20.
After loosing a few more races I had to start all over again. Again the race in the UK.
This race is on gravel with a few very long straights and a few very difficult turns and I always finish last.
Since I always loose I thought that I might as well learn a new skill: Breaking with my left foot.
Using both my feet would no doubt mean that I would forget to steer and drive off the road. But I already do, so it really didn’t matter.
The big difficulty with steering in Dirt is that it is almost impossible to drive straight. The car keeps swaying. Which makes it very difficult to get around corners. Breaking makes matter worse.
The alternative, driving very slowly on the straights, makes for a very boring game and you always loose.
Almost 30 minutes after I started I was back at the Japanese race. By that time I was getting tired and my concentration was fading fast. So I decided to just go for it. I would probably end up in a ravine and loose but I would loose anyway.
The race in Japan starts out quite easy. A few long straights and slight turns.
I still was to slow. At the first quarter of the race I was already falling behind. I didn’t have time to look at the time announchment but the label was red instead of green.
In the second quarter of the race the pace picked up. More turns and sharper turns made the race a little harder. Again the time label was red.
In the third quarter I realized that the car had a natural rhythm to it’s swaying. If I only could think of a way to get the natural rhythm inline with the turns I had to make, I would be saved.
But in the middle of the race I had no time to think about it. I just had to go on.
Soon after that I felt that I lost control of the car. Left, right, left, right… The car almost hit a tree, the fence, the wall. Almost.
I don’t remember seeing the label of the third time announcement.
After a difficult left and right turn I finally see the finish. The last few hundred yard I battle with the controls. Then I fly over the finish.
With 0.21 seconds to spair.
If there ever was a time that the odds where stacked against me. This was it.
- Driving a race I have never won.
- Being tired and with fading concentration.
- Just having started to learn a new skill.
- Being sure that I would forget some other skill.
- Discovering a skill I’d have to learn while I’m in the midst of a race.
By all accounts I should have lost. But doing the best job I could I won.