America’s Army knows a thing or two about the power of video games; not only can they inspire new recruits to sign up for the armed forces, they can also actually teach them some basic tactical information. Well given all the combat games I’ve played over the years, I figure I’ve reached veteran status by now.

1. Look both ways before you go.

This may seem an obvious point but how many of us have played with that one gung-ho gamer who loves to rush in, guns blazing, just to wind up dead three seconds later? This is a lesson that’s just as applicable in real life. Crossing the street for example, or entering a conference room before a meeting – case it out first to pick out the best place to sit, next to that cutie from accounting. Or when the crowded train pulls up to the platform, already be scoping out the least impacted area so you can grab the seat. Then just focus, and GO.

2. Always, always be moving.

This is most true in multiplayer. Don’t hang around waiting, because even though you have the sniper rifle, they might have the shotgun. You’re just asking to be sneaked up on. This is a great technique to apply to the office. Walking around, everyone sees that you are there, but you always look busy, on your way to doing something else. They can’t pin you down to ask you to do stuff. Plus, it’s just good exercise. And speaking of moving…

3. Strafe and stick to the walls.

I learned this way back in Doom. Check before you pass doorways, too. Sure you look silly hugging the wall but if there’s ever a crazed gunman at your school or local grocery store you’ll have a much higher survival rate if you employ this technique. I should add that when possible, kick down the doors to keep your hands free for fightin…and to eliminate any potential threats that may be lurking just behind.

4. Higher ground is better.

Higher ground offers far more visibility and prevents you from being trapped in crossfire. That’s why my colleague has set up his station to stand while he writes, so he can keep an eye on what’s going on around him. Note also that he can automatically cover a wide area with this set-up, which brings me to the next point.

5. Cover your exits and secure your retreat.

In a restaurant, I automatically go for the farthest seat against the wall, facing the exit. You never know. Maybe that ex of yours is going to walk in and you want fair warning before having to socialize with people you’d rather not see. That, or you can drop your napkin at the right time to evade the gaze of an unwanted visitor. In the cubicle, you should always face the entrance, so that if you’re surfing the web you can tab out and back to your Excel spreadsheet before the boss catches you. Knowledge is power, and knowing who’s watching is is half the battle.

6. Always take headshots.

That is, get directly to the point. You can apply this equally to the boardroom as well as the bedroom. Don’t dance around the issue…if you’ve got something to say, take aim and fire away.

There are so many more handy hints that I’ve gleaned from playing FPS and combat games, too, but I will save them for another time. Till then, muse on these teachings.

By Jane Pinckard

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