15 Self-Improvement Tips From Starcraft Progaming

Have you ever played Starcraft? It’s a popular real-time strategy game that was first released in 1998. It’s also one of my favorite games. I still like it today although many newer, more sophisticated games have come out.
Some time ago I learned that there are people who make a living from Starcraft. In South Korea especially, Starcraft games are broadcasted live on TV and professional gamers (progamers) earn big sums of money.
Of course, being a Starcraft fan, I then browsed the materials on how to play Starcraft like a pro. There are tons of resources available. They give you not just specific game strategy and tactics but also tips to improve as a player.
I’m glad to find that many of the tips are also applicable to other fields. No matter what field you are in, you can apply them to improve yourself. They can help you become better at what you do.
I’d like to share what I’ve learned with you. For each point, I’ll give you relevant quotes from Starcraft resources (I list the resources at the end of the post).
Here are 15 self-improvement tips from Starcraft progaming:
1. Pay the price

Pros train 8 to 10 hours a day

There is no shortcut to success. If you want to be successful, you have to pay the price, be it with your time, money, or energy.
2. Study the best to internalize patterns

Studying the progames is a shortcut to figuring out the optimal actions in all situations.

Studying the best people in your field is essential. Why? Because it teaches you the right way to do things. But there’s more:

…merely watching very large quantities of pro games will help in establishing subconscious patterns.

Consistently studying the best people in your field helps you internalize patterns. Later on, when you face a certain situation, these ingrained patterns will enable you to make the right decision.
3. Do an active study

When deeply analyzing games it is crucial that you be actively pausing and thinking, asking questions such as: “What would I do here? Why does he make this move or idea instead?”… Actively compare your thought processes and decisions with what the pro actually makes.

Rather than just studying the best passively, be active and get involved in the thinking process. At every decision point, compare what you would do with what they do. It helps you understand how the best people think.
4. Experiment is your friend

This basic play is the result of countless hours of progamers playing each other and finding the most robust and powerful builds and styles.

How do you find the best strategies? By doing a lot of experiment. Experiment helps you refine your ideas and find the ideas that work.
5. Review your past performances

One important way to develop game sense is studying your own replays exhaustively… The primary benefit of doing so is to merge the details of your in-game perceptions where you are hindered by limited information with the accurate assessment of the replay. If you continuously compare your predictions with the real data, your predictions will definitely become better and better.

This is a good way to improve your decision-making ability. By doing this kind of review, you will be able to see gaps in your past thinking process. You can then adjust your assumptions to make better decisions next time.
6. Know what to do in every situation

Being fast is not about being able to move your hands. It is about knowing what to do in every given situation…

Some people think that being fast means moving faster than other people. But a much more important factor is knowing the right thing to do in every situation. Nothing wastes your time more than making the wrong decisions and doing the wrong tasks.
7. Find more efficient ways to do regular tasks
Given that you know what to do (see previous point), it does help to do your tasks faster. It’s especially helpful to find more efficient ways to do regular tasks since you will do them again and again.
In Starcraft, you need to use different buildings for different purposes throughout the game. Beginner players use their mouse to control the buildings. But good players use keyboard shortcuts that enable them to do things in a much faster way.
8. Take advantage of the situation

Do the map starting locations favor certain builds? Some have more open chokes, forcing them to do different openings. Thus you have better openings to take advantage of it.

Look at the situation you’re in. Does it have certain characteristics that make it suitable for certain actions? Is there an opportunity you can take advantage of?
9. Move out of your comfort zone

Another bit of advice. Never be afraid to lose. Try and go out of your comfort zone whenever you can. Losing if utilized correctly is a lesson to be learned.
…in order to keep improving your multitasking, you must keep playing players that are better than you, that push you, who make you struggle to even stay alive.

I like the way they put it. The point is, you must expand your personal capacity. If you keep doing things you’re already comfortable with, you’re not improving yourself.
10. Have a clear goal

To what purpose are you trying to improve at Starcraft? The only reasonable approach is to figure out your goal first, then make your means fit that goal…

Don’t waste your time by doing things aimlessly. Having a clear goal helps you make the right decisions. It helps you avoid spending time on unnecessary things .
11. Learn from those before you

If you want to be good at Starcraft you must study from those who have come before you. There’s no sense in trying to learn an accelerated 11 years worth of strategy on your own.

If you can learn from those before you, why should you learn things the hard way? Whatever you do, find as much information as possible from those who have done it. It will save you a lot of time.
12. Know why you do something

Thus there will come a point when you have a gap in your knowledge: you understand what is right, but not why it is right, and thus do not have the know how without a direct example of how to defeat inferior ideas…

Knowing what to do isn’t enough; you must also know why. Knowing why helps you adapt to unexpected situations because you understand the thinking process.
13. Dig forgotten wisdom of the past

Yet the best place to find unnoticed ideas and strategy is by studying older champions. There’s a lot of unknown territory out there to explore and realistically, almost nobody is going to look back in time to find ideas since they naturally assume everything has been learned and improved upon.

Many people look for good ideas in the present, but perhaps the best way to find good ideas is by digging the wisdom of the past.
14. Recognize good ideas when they show up

Did I have the ability to create that strategy? Absolutely not. But I recognized the value of the opening while others somehow did not.

Often you don’t need to find good ideas. You just need to spot them when they show up. Be observant and expect ideas in unlikely places.
15. Truly “get” something

Lastly, there is a significant difference between understanding an idea and truly getting it to the point where they can use that knowledge to react instantaneously to a new situation.

If something is important to you, don’t be satisfied with just knowing or understanding it. Immerse yourself in it until you truly “get” it, until you can use it to quickly react to new situations.

Photo by SobControllers


  1. Great article! These tips are definitely applicable to other fields, from martial arts to starting a business. Keep up the good work!

  2. This is such a brilliant round up of some of the best self-improvement tips there are.
    The cool thing about your list and self-improvement as a movement is that it’s not about the books you have or the trainer that you pay weekly, it’s about the journey you take to get to where you want to be.
    As Jim Rohn always said. Success is not a result, its a journey that you take.

  3. Sam,
    Thanks! That’s what I love about these tips, they apply to many (if not all) fields.
    I agree with you. The journey is what matters.

  4. Who said you can’t learn anything from computer games 🙂
    To become good in one thing you have to follow the same rules as in anything else. Practice, hard work, time spent, smart work, clear goals, planning, reviewing, visualizing and so on.
    Thanks for the article Donald and keep up the good work.

  5. Awesome post! Yea it’s always good for someone to recognize new ideas when they come! I totally agree with your points. Thanks for sharing. Have fum.

  6. Daniel,
    Yes, the essential rules are the same. Just I like to see them from a gamer’s perspective. That’s something new for me 🙂
    Glad you like the post. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Monique Avakian
    Monique Avakian

    Though I appreciate what the writer was trying to do, this alienates part of your audience and kind of pigeon-holes you in a way you may not want.

  8. Monique,
    Thanks for the feedback. I understand that not everyone is familiar with the world of gaming. But I’ve tried to make the post as accessible as I could. I learned so many interesting things from the resources that I couldn’t resist to share them here.

  9. It’s amazing how things from one area can apply in many others

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  11. Cool, practical post. Well, I may not be into video games but I do appreciate how it was presented in this manner, it’s much better to understand.
    Someone I work with has a 16-year old son who is into online games and competitions. Instead of being bothered, she told me the hours must be monitored, and she and hubby keep watch of his efforts. That is, through conversations with their son. Surprisingly, the teenager is truly bright and always keen on learning strategies of the game, in fact spends time offline to study more on how to go about it. After a few months, my friend told her son about the “real world” and how the teenager could actually apply his online experience there.
    In the end, it worked for both ways. And the son excels in school, has healthy social life and enjoys his earned success at the online video game.
    Truly, these fifteen great ideas could be put to “real” use, even without Starcraft. 🙂 So thank you, thank you! Keep it up!

  12. I felt like killing some zerg while reading this. Killing some aliens while I make up a business plan

  13. Danny,
    Yes, that’s what I like when I read these Starcraft resources.
    Nice story. Thanks for sharing it!
    Glad to find another Starcraft fan 🙂

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  15. This looks great! I’m going to get started on flying through my life in hyperspeed right away. Here’s to productivity! And of course, oh I cannot forget, to Starcraft!

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