Thought Control
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Short and thorough articles tackeling various topics within the eSports scene.

Communication, creating harmony

 

One of the corner stones of every successful team is how well they coordinate their actions together. How they blend together stems from several aspects both inside and outside the gaming environment. Today we are going to look at one particular in-game aspect that can be a deciding factor for a team’s success. Communication; a well discussed topic, is often being put to blame when a team does something strange or considered “wrong”. I’m going to try and shed some light on how we, here at Thought Control, view communication and what it should look like for a competitive eSports environment or in any team for that matter.

Harmony: the goal of communication

Before we start talking about what communication is for a competitive team I want to highlight the goal of communication in the first place. Communication, otherwise phrased as 'the transference of information' occurs almost constantly in our day to day lives. It’s what our senses have been designed for to pick up, to better orientate ourselves and make more adequate decisions in this world.

When looking at the competitive scene of nearly all games there is a lot of important information being passed around that requires correct interpretation and subsequent action from the players. You will probably be familiar with the saying “knowledge is power”, and this is particularly true when it comes to competitive gaming. Knowledge stems from gathered and interpreted information, and knowing how to act on the set of given circumstances detailed by the information. When it comes to individual play, like in 1 on 1 Starcraft or Hearthstone, you as a player are solely responsible for gathering and interpreting the information at hand. For teamgames like League of Legends, or shooters like Overwatch there is more to it. Just like the 1 on 1 games, where you as an individual player are gathering important information, you also need to convey that information to your teammates who can’t always see/hear what you are picking up. For games like these, functioning as a cohesive unit is of the upmost importance for having the biggest chance at success. Individual play and strengths are still crucial, but when matched versus equally skilled players the more coordinated team has the upper hand.

When trying to communicate you are trying to convert one’s personal set of knowledge to that of the entire team (or the matching units). Transferring what you know to the rest of your fellow teammates. Being coordinated means there is a sense of harmony, each part (player) of the machine (team) knows what to do and when to do it. And as such it’s not about purely communicating with your team, but using communication to enhance a sense of harmony within the group/team. If your transfer of knowledge did not have a beneficial effect on the harmony, you can ask yourself the question; did I communicate it correctly?

Communication

“Harmony is power” when it comes to teams. Each and every pillar of the team can be rock solid, but only when combined and working in unison they can support a house. Achieving this harmony requires effective communication. In a nutshell, communication or communicating is when 2 or more individuals are interchanging information with one another. Typing this article is a way of communicating, so is talking to someone on the phone or sending a letter in the mail, hell you could even throw a branch at someone and it could be called communication.

In a competitive gaming scene there are several ways of communicating information. The most common way of communication is through the use of our voice. Popular 3rd party programs include Teamspeak, Skype, Discord, or their ingame counterparts are well represented in all of the eSports scene.

We tend to share large parts of our personal knowledge obtained through our gameplay with the rest of our team (or not). The way we do this is by one or multiple ways of communicating with others. Communication is a personal subject, thus each and every individual communicates differently. The first noticeable difference between players is often the sheer volume of information they share with their teammates. How much do they talk and what are they talking about? The pretty lighting effects of the damage spells or the factual amount of hp remaining on your opponent? Other parts of their communication might not seem that different, but when closely examining what information is being transferred, you learn to understand what is actually useful or not.

So what is required to make, in particular, verbal communication effective? This is quite hard to answer, since it varies greatly depending on the variables of each unique situation. There is no one answer fits all kind of scenario, yet here are 5 basic rules you can follow to try and make your communication more effective.

·        Be clear

o   This point focuses on your articulation, volume and general usage of your voice. It’s the tool you use to communicate with, if you can’t be understood there is a good chance your knowledge won’t be transferred in the way you intended.

·        Be thorough

o   Recognize what is important for completely understanding your message, but try to keep it as short as possible. Being thorough address the entirety of your message, convey all the variables that are important for your message. Make those variables into a comprehensive message.

·        Stay positive

o   This might be self-explanatory yet it still has to be said. The goal of communication is to create harmony between your teammates, and being negative only helps to decrease that harmony. Avoid “saltiness” and try to use compliments when they are due, they provide a slight moral boost and reaffirm correct actions from your teammates!

·        Be precise

o   Being precise goes hand in hand with being thorough. You want to be thorough with your message but also precise. You can easily be too thorough and specify each and every detail of information, but that is often not needed and clouds the message.

·        Be accurate

o   This is a tricky one, but sometimes it’s better to say nothing. Conveying “questionable” or wrong information can cause indecisiveness or even bad calls. Make sure that which you try to communicate is correct and can be used to your teams advantage.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and learned a thing or two about the role communication has in a team environment. It’s one of the most crucial and often also one of the hardest to points to work on. It often requires changing old behavioural patterns and hours of work to consistently improve communication. Especially when looking at a competitive scene where you are pushed to your limit as an athlete on multiple fronts, communication and overall team harmony is just one of many.