Growth Mindset

Yesterday I tossed something important in as a one-liner. Let’s unpack the concept a bit and apply it to gaming.

“Growth mindset” is the idea that your abilities are not fixed. Failure is not final, just an early step in learning. It is the difference between “I can’t do that” and “I can’t do that yet.” A fixed mindset leads to conservatively sticking with what you’re good at, because “what you’re good at” is fixed. A growth mindset embraces neuroplasticity.

Most games inherently encourage growth mindset. If you fail, you try again. You get better, face greater challenges, and save the world. At its best, gaming is a system of productive optimism.

Some gaming communities are toxic. They talk about “bad players” instead of people who are still learning. People are good or bad, in a way that reminds me of the Spanish distinction between “ser” and “estar.” Some games and communities make it hard to start and implicitly drive away new players. Some games are structured with painful learning curves that punish failure or create long-term costs for common learning mistakes.

Or am I exhibiting a fixed mindset to say the communities are toxic? Are they just not good communities yet? Riot has gone to great effort to reduce LoL community toxicity. Some games and forums seem to be moving as fast as they can in the other direction.

: Zubon

2 thoughts on “Growth Mindset”

  1. I think this relates again to the concepts of self-worth and perception. Some games have crazy skill curves, some are more linear. Some have low skill caps, dome don’t (often around the idea of chance). So have skill floors and some don’t.

    Where those items are and where people perceive them to be, is a problem. Where people find comfort is a problem. People who love high skill don’t work so well with those who like chance.

    Some may view the effort to increase their skill, compared to the time required and potential benefits as not worth it.

    If my goal is to see content in WoW I need very little skill to run LFR or dungeons. If I just want a couple quick games of LoL and care little for the outcome (as I think it’s random due to the matchmaking), why bother learning something new? I’ll get better and meet even more toxic people.

    The mindset of wanting to learn is offset by the time required to gain something and the perceived value of that something. It’s a core tenet of sports coaching. Finding the motivation.

  2. I think that the good/bad perception depends on how often you expect to see that player around. If it’s only once and you probably won’t remember their name anyway, then the only thing you know about them is whether they made your experience in that group worse (sadly people wont’ normally notice if they made it better).

    What you call the growth perspective depends heavily on interacting with someone at different points in the learning curve and remembering them well enough to notice differences. You’ll see it more in guilds I bet, when new recruits get ‘trained up’.

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