Leaving nothing to chance: The brain behind the fantasy game

The thrills of sports, the excitement of fantasy, and the dopamine kick of a tangible reward at the end – combine all these elements and you get the magical mix of fantasy gaming. 

Fantasy gaming gives players the chance to feel a slice of the excitement that sportspersons experience on the field. Given the easy access to gaming platforms these days, and the gaming mindset which is ever-evolving in every stratum of society, the rise of fantasy gaming has been quite meteoric but not unexpected.

But how much of fantasy gaming is down to a well-researched skill and how much is down to plain luck? And if it is a skill then how does one train for improvement? These are some of the questions we try to answer.

 

Fantasy gaming has come into the mainstream in a big way with 72 per cent of those interviewed in a study -- by the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG) and research firm KPMG -- saying they regularly like to unwind with a fun bout of fantasy gaming.

However, 81 per cent also admitted that striking it big in the field required skill and knowledge. In that way, fantasy gaming was seen to be like any other sport which, in the long run, rewards skill over luck. The skill factors in these games come from tracking the performances of certain players in given match conditions, reading external factors – such as the pitch in cricket or the kind of court the match is played on in tennis, knowing the most likely team strategy and composition a team could go with among others.

For this understanding, many experienced fantasy gamers treat it more as an investment than a casual game. They track the platforms where they are most likely to get the best bang for their buck, bookmark certain reliable sources of news and study teams and conditions over time to understand what the most effective strategy available (META) in each case would be. 

Of course, with many online platforms now providing this information to the players, it has simplified the entire fantasy ecosystem and made it more accessible to the casual player.

Another big factor in which fantasy gaming rewards is persistence. A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has shown that the more experience a player gains in the field of fantasy gaming, the more likely he is to do better at it. Hence, beginner’s luck could work once, but it is far from an important factor. 

The more understanding one has of the current trends in sports along with the trends over time, the less likely they are to pick based on raw instinct. 

Generally, the performances of the top fantasy players were seen to be consistent through an entire fantasy season and even over multiple seasons whereas those who gave up after the initial loss were never able to achieve the level of understanding required to win consistently. Thus, doing your homework and playing often are two of the most important factors which can predict your growth in the field.

Some make a living out of fantasy gaming as well. Many top players go to the extent of setting alarms to check the latest news, conditions, etc. and then input thousands of numbers into computer programs to find the most likely outcomes of games. 

But for a casual gamer who is looking more for a fun experience and the chance of the occasional huge payday, a general skim through of sports news and a historical understanding of the teams and players involved should be enough.

So, although the level of skill required for fantasy gaming may vary in comparison to other sports, that does not diminish the expertise of those who spend considerable time at it. Your bragging rights on winning a fantasy game, thus, are quite secure and well-founded.