Scaffolding Yu-Gi-Oh

joe giolandoOne of the beauties of my time in the game of Yu-Gi-Oh, is that I have gotten to experience each of the pivotal steps that come across as you improve as a player. From the absolute beginning stages of finally topping your first local, to the adrenaline rush of knowing you Top 8'd your first regional, these moments are sacred in the life of a Yu-Gi-Oh player, and shape who we become as players. Those who grasp each moment as their ultimate goal cap their potential development, while those who strive for the next step have the natural inclination of improving. It is quite simple, though I could go on for days about the philosophical side of improving in anything. For the readers out there who know me on more of a personal level, I have been going to school for the past four years to gain a bachelor's degree in history. However, this semester I began taking the graduate classes necessary for a master's degree in education - with the eventual, yet more imminent, goal of becoming a history teacher. Most of my educational experiences in college have been about digesting the infinite that is being a history major. But the more recent education classes I have taken have completely redefined my perspective of how I should write articles, and convey the messages I am trying to get across. I have waited until the end of my current semester to really open up and start writing about some of the theories and topics I have been introduced to in class. My intention is to begin a mini-series about various philosophies in education, while of course relating them to Yu-Gi-Oh. Assuming there is enough of a positive response I will certainly continuing writing them, but if not - I will find something else to write about.

Anyway, one of the classes I am taking this semester is entitled "Adolescent Development and Student Behavior." I could go on for days about how enriching the class has been for me, but I will avoid that and just briefly say we have been covering various theories behind education - which will be highlighted throughout these articles. For example, today I want to take the time to talk about Jerome Bruner's Scaffolding Theory.

It is actually quite a simple theory to understand, and then we can relate it to Yu-Gi-Oh. Bruner hypothesized that essentially anything could be taught effectively in an intellectually honest way. However, the most vital component of education was sequencing the material in order for it to increase in difficulty. The best visual representation can be a staircase, with each level as a different degree of difficulty. Of course in the world of education we can talk about some type of concept like the history of World War II and fill in how to elevate upon the staircase but the same can be said for Yu-Gi-Oh.

One of the major components of Scaffolding Theory is the way in which steps are taken to reduce the degree of freedom at each level. Making it so that the individual is forced to concentrate on the difficult task attributed to each level. The end result of an educational program based on Scaffolding Theory is an individual who persevered through the acquisition of difficult skills and essentially now sits stop the staircase.

Everyone who plays Yu-Gi-Oh is of a varying degree of skill, ranging from the top of the skillset staircase to the lower levels. The real fundamental problem is that in general, everyone has the desire to either improve to the upper echelon of the staircase, or otherwise arrive there. However, it is fundamentally impossible to do so without putting in the time to master the contents of each level. So assume for the moment that the eventual goal of every Yu-Gi-Oh player is to win a YCS. Obviously we all have different goals, as I explored in an article earlier this year - but for the sake of this article I am going to summarize into one goal.

BureidoThere are assuredly shortcuts someone can take to try and win a YCS. There are numerous suicide bomber decks which can mask skillsets, such as Karakuri, Gishki and Samurai variants. And as Yu-Gi-Oh history has shown, these decks can have tremendous amounts of success on their sheer ability to draw unmatched combinations of cards. Yet in the long run, piloting these decks can only do so for so long. Eventually the formats progress and the strength of a card like Six Samurai - Shi En is countered by the popularity of Atlantean Infantry, and in turn, the reliance on a solitary suicide bomber variance truly shows.

Instead it would be of greater result to force yourself toward decks which higher degrees of play variance, and less lenience towards play errors. There are numerous decks out there which force players to have mastered a significant portion of the steps on the staircase, and their results with that deck show that. However, in the same token, having tried to skip the vital steps on the staircase can stunt the naturally growth of a player. Understanding how to read backrows, calculate turn clocks, and pick up on physical tells are advanced steps that can be experienced when players force themselves not only to play Yu-Gi-Oh - but learn from what they are doing.

And this gradually improvement should be centered around the concept of  staircase. Do not jump into your improvement with the expectation of being crowned a YCS champion, it happens of course, but not often in a genuine setting. Work on mastering the fundamentals of reading backrows and hand movements before trying to cast mind tricks on the opponent. These are some legitimately advanced concepts that draw on the concepts in the early stages of Yu-Gi-Oh development, so treat them as so.

I recently came across a thread on my favorite Yu-Gi-Oh forum which asked the question, "Can Anyone Be Good at Yu-Gi-Oh?" I am honestly still on the fence of giving a hardlined answer to that question, but I am leaning towards yes. If it isn't the idea of Scaffolding Theory which sparks the light of passion to improve in your mind, there are endless concepts and theories to approach learning Yu-Gi-Oh. Hopefully over the course of this article mini-series we can key in on a variety of concepts, and the subsequent result is a more educated and well tuned Yu-Gi-Oh community.

Joe Giorlando

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