Facebook Engineer Teaches Life Lessons With StarCraft

Facebook Engineer Teaches Life Lessons With StarCraft

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When you find yourself at a crossroads in life, remember the teachings of Jim Raynor and SlayerS_BoxeR.

Charlie Cheever has a list of accomplishments under his belt that would make most 30-year-olds cry. He graduated from Harvard, he helped engineer the megalith that is Facebook - specifically helming the Facebook Connect and the Facebook Platform projects, he worked as an engineer at Amazon, and now he works as the founder of Q&A website Quora.

Some of his success is surely just natural - the dude must be a freakin' genius - but Cheever attributes it to another source as well: lessons learned from playing StarCraft.

In a giant Q&A posted on his Quora site, Cheever - who is a Diamond-level Terran/Protoss player in StarCraft II - explained how he thought Zerglings and Siege Tanks were relevant to the real world.

Timing is critical. For example, Loopt had a lot of the same ideas as foursquare, but started before location services were ubiquitous and commoditized on mobile phones, and so they spent a lot of time doing stuff like striking deals with carriers that turned out to not be that valuable for them, whereas foursquare was able to just focus on iPhone (and later BlackBerry Android) experiences. In StarCraft, timing a push exactly to maximize your advantage is one of the most important principles of the game. Relatedly, you can never get back wasted time. If you forget to build a probe for 15 seconds, you'll never be able to catch up to someone who is executing the same build perfectly.

Long term success is usually achieved by getting a small advantage and then using that to get some other kind of advantage. In StarCraft, this can mean something like getting map control with a mobile army then using that to expand safely, which gets you an economic advantage, which then lets you get a huge doom army which will let you win the game. In life, this might mean something like being born into a famous Hollywood family which makes it easy for you to become an actor which makes it possible for you to star in a bunch of movies which lets you get a starring role in TV show like Two and a Half Men which leads to #winning. Artosis' way of talking about this principle in StarCraft is by saying "When you're ahead, get more ahead" (as opposed to just trying to go kill your opponent).

It's not one big thing but a bunch of little things that add up. Most games in StarCraft aren't like the InCa vs. Rain game I linked to above - they end up being won because one player is able to squeeze out a few more workers and a few more units and get a slightly bigger army that then lets him/her roll over the opponent. In all the rest of these lessons, it's pretty easy to pick out some story or situation that illustrates the point but it's a little bit tricky because little things like losing a scouting probe or forgetting a chronoboost don't matter that much, but if you play enough games, you realize that all these things add up and sometimes they are really important. Life is kind of the same way. For example, if you treat people well your whole life, you'll find yourself with a whole bunch of friends later on in life and it will be a lot easier for you to be successful, whereas if you rip people off or are just unkind, it won't matter much in the short term but years later, its likely to add up to being lonely and without allies. I think this is my favorite lesson from StarCraft. It's pretty inspiring to be reminded that showing up every day and trying to do the right thing and working hard will probably matter in the long run.

If you have time, the full list of nine questions is a great read. Among the topics covered are things like how people are good at different things and should focus on that - like StarCraft units - and how if someone is better than their competitor, they want to play a long game.

I'm not sure these are specific to StarCraft, in all honesty - it could apply to any strategy game, ever. But these are important life lessons nonetheless, and where one learns them isn't as important as that one has learned them, period.

(Via 1UP)

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I got one more:
Don't leave your girlfriend at the mercy of a ravenous horde of giant bugs!

All this makes sense. Starcraft is the handbook to life.

EDIT: Wow. After reading the whole Q&A, that is pretty awesome. An excellent read for sure.

how bout just play protoss

there's people in grandmaster who do nothing but cannon rush

HerbertTheHamster:
how bout just play protoss

there's people in grandmaster who do nothing but cannon rush

Grandmaster is the 200 best people in their respective region. You are wrong.

Apart from that, Protoss sucks ! :D

Excellent read, interesting.

Dyme:

HerbertTheHamster:
how bout just play protoss

there's people in grandmaster who do nothing but cannon rush

Grandmaster is the 200 best people in their respective region. You are wrong.

Apart from that, Protoss sucks ! :D

Excellent read, interesting.

go on youtube and search for combat ex

he's in grandmaster and he cannon rushes pretty much every game.

SC2 is much less strategy and more luck than brood war because in SC2 any random cheese can beat even the best players, making it incredibly random for tournaments.

Of course Combat-Ex is in Grandmasters. He's famous for artificially increasing his rankings by synching his match searches with his friends. But please, can we keep the QQ about SC2's inferiority to BW off The Escapist? At least when it has nothing to do with the topic? Pretty please?

Interesting read. I've been playing RTS games for a long time and never thought they might help me in real life. I guess it makes sense though.

HerbertTheHamster:

Dyme:

HerbertTheHamster:
how bout just play protoss

there's people in grandmaster who do nothing but cannon rush

Grandmaster is the 200 best people in their respective region. You are wrong.

Apart from that, Protoss sucks ! :D

Excellent read, interesting.

go on youtube and search for combat ex

he's in grandmaster and he cannon rushes pretty much every game.

SC2 is much less strategy and more luck than brood war because in SC2 any random cheese can beat even the best players, making it incredibly random for tournaments.

first things first, that is completely wrong. If you get a bronze player and teach them how to cheese and then put them up against Idra or whiteRA, the bronze player would lose 99.999% of the time.

secondly, if you only do rushes and you're in grandmaster, you are a damn good cannon rusher and you have developed that strategy perfectly. Besides, I doubt he only knows how to rush as it would only mean that he loses every time the enemy sends an early scout (in anything higher than silver anyway)

Also, if you play starcraft 2 what league are you in?

So tell us HerbertTheHamster, what's your account and rank?
Because every whiner like you is usually some random noob that complains about the game being easy as shit and about rush tactics or cheese while at the same time don't manage to play anywhere near the level of people they complain about.

A huge majority of the grandmaster players is really damn good and it ain't easy to get into especially by now. Yeah, there maybe some players that use cheesy strategies mostly (some only;P) but those a) die out rapidly and b) even cheesing takes some skill and knowledge at that level.

Whatever, always these damn whiners that go totally of topic, so facepalm worthy it ain't funny. Just to bash the game, but after all Haters gonna hate, so whatever.

@ Topic

Gotta say that was more interesting to read through than I originally thought ;P

HerbertTheHamster:

Dyme:

HerbertTheHamster:
how bout just play protoss

there's people in grandmaster who do nothing but cannon rush

Grandmaster is the 200 best people in their respective region. You are wrong.

Apart from that, Protoss sucks ! :D

Excellent read, interesting.

go on youtube and search for combat ex

he's in grandmaster and he cannon rushes pretty much every game.

SC2 is much less strategy and more luck than brood war because in SC2 any random cheese can beat even the best players, making it incredibly random for tournaments.

http://day9tv.blip.tv/file/4179246/

Yea, cheese is totally unbeatable. /sarcasm

More on point, I've always said that whatever happens in life, there's a perfect Starcraft analogy. This just proves it!

After watching Day9's 100 anniversary netcast, which is very similar, this guy's analogy doesn't seem strange at all.

Interesting read, no question about it.

I guess everyone that played SC or SC2 a bit more serious felt it (that decision making is important to land a win and sometimes you must sacrifice something to get an advantage on a different front, timing is essential, etc...) but few thought about it and made the connections. :)

Overall, it's refreshing to think of life through this perspective.

 

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