Monday, April 18, 2011

Macro, Micro, and Starcraft II's Life Lessons

Now, I wouldn't call myself a "gamer". Not totally. I don't play enough, and consistently, to really fall neatly into that category. But I love video games. Growing up, my brother and I combined owned every major system, with the glaring exception of Sega Genesis. Fortunately, my bro rectified that by buying a Dreamcast. I've probably spent as many hours playing video games over my lifetime as bathing, which for some gamers is optional. But this post isn't about the games themselves, it's about the life lessons you learn from them.

I'm thinking of one big one in particular. The importance of managing macro/micro in strategy games, especially the Warcraft/Starcraft series.

Jim's comment on the last post, and my reply, spurred in my mind the idea that you always need to be focused on the little details of life, working as hard and concentrated as you can on the task at hand. But we all know that's not enough. You also need to simultaneously hold the big picture in mind, to think strategically and long term, all the while utilizing the work on the little details to build toward the ultimate goal of the big picture.

Full disclosure time: I'm not a Starcraft II player. But my brother is. He's played in national tournaments. He's a pretty good player, but not only that, he has a great mind for the game. He's able to speak very intelligently about the minutest aspects of the game, which is where I derive my understanding of the macro/micro concept.

As stated in the link above, micro is the proper and effective management of the little details: what your army is actually doing. Micro is each task that you must individually execute to work towards victory. It's what's right in front of you. You have to do this well or you've got no hope of winning.

Macro, on the other hand, is managing the big picture. It's making sure you have just the right amount of units, supplies, etc. It's making sure your overall efforts, micro, etc. are working in concert to produce the best overall strategy to ensure victory.

You need both to win. You can't focus on one and ignore the other. Both need to be managed constantly, and effectively, in order to win. Unfortunately, I don't think I learned this lesson early enough in life. I've always been good on the task at hand, and move quickly from one to another. But it's the overall strategy I've been lacking in. My macro is weak. I don't think I've done a good enough job thinking strategically about each and every action in my life, and whether it's building toward something or nothing. Of course, I know that not everything one does should be part of a grand scheme to build an empire. You need to have fun too. But there's something about the most driven, motivated, and focused people who relentlessly manage their micro and macro to such an extent that it all fits together and works together almost seamlessly. The best Starcraft players do this. The best life players do this.

It's interesting that we use "game" language to describe success in life. We label some people "losers," and others describe themselves as "Winning! Duh!" Game Theory is definitely something I want to learn more about. But in the meantime, I'm trying to boost my macro skillz. Any thoughts on how you manage these (either in game or in life)?

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1 comment:

  1. all about the synergy man: