Practice

Article excerpt

George Orwell remarked that: "Society has always seemed to demand a little more from human beings than it will get in practice."

Still, even with the realization that "practice" does not guarantee success in any endeavor, where do "humans" get their practice?

Actors get them from rehearsals, and ultimately a "dress rehearsal." Football players practice on practice fields and ultimately in a "scrimmage." Surgeons get their practice on cadavers and poor inner city patients. Dental students practice their Novocain injections on each other. While it's safe to say that despite the old adage about practice, it doesn't make perfect.

Even the belief that "mastery" in "something" requires ten thousand hours of practice is only theoretical. So where do we get to practice?

Often we "simulate."

As a young boy growing up in the 50's, my friends and I spent countless hours playing "Electric Football." This was a board game that looked like a football field, including yard markers, goal posts, cardboard cutouts with pictures of cheering fans lining both sides of the field and a scoreboard. The players were made from little wooden cutouts on felt lined plinths. The players were lined up on opposing sides and the game, just like in real life, began. The field was mounted on a base with a little electric motor that somehow vibrated the entire board. It was this vibrating action that caused the players to run into each other (and fall over) with the hoped for result that the player with the ball (cotton tip) would cross the goal post. The games were crude, unreliable and unrealistic; with enough appeal to have sold over 40 million games.

While playing "electric football" was simply "playing," it provided us with hours of "practice." Not the type of practice that we could apply to real football, but practice that would allow us to play "electric football" with a higher level of "electric football skill."

Today there is a revolution in the realism, accuracy and authenticity of "electronic video simulation games." The graphics, response, interactivity, and nuances are so highly developed that professional athletes include them in their training regimens.

Video game developers use real athletes to "capture" every aspect of their skills, maneuvers, reactions and strategies.

Reporter Joe Bresica (New York Times) writing about the creation of sports themed video simulation games describes the process, "They start with the basics, like height, weight and facial features. Then the producers use a motion capture system to create the movements of the athletes ... players perform a variety of shots and skill moves, and the captured body movements become the basis for those of the players in the game."

One hockey player on the New York Islanders commented on how "realistic" he was "translated" into the video game. …