There's a Malcolm Gladwell theory out there that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something. Gladwell calls this the 10,000 hour rule and he does have research to back this up - he's also a pretty smart guy that gives a convincing presentation to prove his theory - he also has a wicked cool afro.
While Gladwell's theory has been picked apart, I think we can all agree that it does take practice, and a lot of it, to become really good at something. This is true for baseball, skateboarding, programming, cooking, speaking, writing - just about everything. It makes sense then that practice makes perfect when gaming too right? Well there are two university studies out that actually looks at this and the results are pretty interesting.
Brown University took an exhaustive look at the gaming habits and playtime of two specific games - Halo: Reach and StarCraft 2. You have to admit right at the start they picked two good games, one is an Xbox-specific FPS and the other a PC-based strategy game. They also focused on the right type of play - online PvP.
They looked at data for seven months of Halo: Reach matches right after the game was released in 2010 - this means they were looking at data collected for over 3 million gamers! The top-line results are what you would expect - people that play more per week had the largest increases in gaming skill over time. What you might not expect though is that non-stop play wasn't a good thing. Well, you might not expect that if you're not a gamer. Too much of anything is not good and that applies to gaming as well. The researchers noted that breaks were good, as long as they were not too long because then the skill would degrade a bit. Short breaks of a day or two were good, longer than that bad. Simple right?
For the StarCraft 2-based study the researchers compared elite gamers to noobs, or what they call "those of lesser skill." One of the "skills" they noticed was that those gamers using hotkeys were obviously better than those relying on mouse clicks. I don't think this should be that surprising because those who use macros and hotkeys in Microsoft Excel are also better and more "elite." Another finding was that it was not just the hotkeys, it was the habits the elite players developed and their routines that made them better. Again, I think this is a common sense finding but here it is backed up by research so cool right?
So, here we have scientific proof that playing more makes you a better gamer. You should take breaks and go and enjoy something else in-between long gaming sessions so your mind can relax and form the newly acquired gaming pathways to cement into your brain. Just don't wait too long though or you'll slide right back down the ladder and suck all over again.