Putting In The Hours

Malcolm Gladwell once wrote that “Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness”. He was referring to a supposed scientific rule that, once someone commits ten thousand hours to a particular task, such as playing a sport or practising a craft, they will have become a master at it. Nobody that I am currently aware of has ever been able to give ten thousand hours to a video game, something which would require 2.5 hours a day of gaming every day for ten years and so, as of yet, there is no such thing as a so-called ‘master of gaming’.

Whether or not a master of video games could actually exist is impossible to tell, especially since I have no idea what that would actually mean, but it is possible to look instead at the next best thing – the currently ranked number one players in the world – and determine just how many hours it takes to achieve their levels of greatness. To do this, I’ve chosen three incredibly popular Xbox 360 games and looked at each one’s global leaderboards to find out who the current best in the world are and how much time they’ve put in to get there. The first game I looked at:

Fifa 13:
Release date: September 25, 2012

It’s been 141 days since the game’s release, which equates to around 3,384 hours. Current No.1 in the world: IIDandyMatri32

This gamer has played a total of 1,996 games in Fifa’s Seasons mode. Each Seasons match is played with six minutes in each half, which means a minimum of 12 minutes is played each game.  IIDandyMatri32 has so far given at least 400 hours to Fifa 13, which is the same as playing 2.8 hours every day since Fifa 13’s release.

Battlefield 3:
Release date: October 25, 2011

That’s roughly 11,376 hours, or 474 days,since the game was released on the Xbox 360. The game time is easier to measure, since Battlefield’s leaderboards track how long a player has been playing. Current No.1 in the world: Carlos Evil1

Carlos has played 153 days and 21 hours of Battlefield, which is about 3,693 hours of play time. This clocks him in at an average of playing just less than eight hours a day, each day, for 474 days. No slacking here.

Halo 4:
Release date: November 6, 2012

Halo 4 doesn’t have a leaderboard inside the game so I used HaloTracker, filtering the leaderboards down to Slayer game types only. The game has been released now for 97 days, which is around 2,328 hours. Current no.1 in the world: tD We3zy

Infinity Slayer matches last for 12 minutes and Big Team Infinity Slayer matches last for 15 minutes. I used the match-length of normal Infinity Slayer, since it’s the more popular game type, so it’s more likely to have been played the most. We3zyhas currently played 2,186 games which, if we assume are all Infinity Slayer matches, means 437 hours has been sunk into Halo 4 (about 18 days straight). This is the same as gaming for 4.5 hours every single day since Halo 4’s release.

None of these gamers are even close to ten thousand hours, probably because only one of the mentioned games has even been out that long, so no ‘masters’ yet, but these statistics have shown us that to stand a chance of at least being ranked the best you need to be putting in some serious amounts of time. To be more precise, you need to be putting in somewhere near three hours a day on Fifa 13, eight hours a day on Battlefield 3 and around five hours a day on Halo 4.

There are many more games out there other than those I’ve mentioned that also manage to lure gamers into giving up literally weeks of their lives playing them. The reason a player chooses to do so will differ for each individual, but there are similar elements found in these games that seem to warrant their dedication. If we look at the games I’ve already mentioned, they all offer the chance to triumph against real players in an online competition, they all offer a sense of significant achievement through rankings and promotions and, perhaps most importantly, they all prove themselves to be just REALLY great games.

Please note: all information is as accurate as I’m able to manage at the time of writing.

Last five articles by Jack



  1. Keegan Keegan says:

    As much as I like the idea behind the article, I do feel that you probably haven’t gone deeply enough into the topic you’ve chosen, as you have simply taken 3 fairly popular games and looked at the Xbox Live Leaderboards, which does suggest that you are looking at what can only described as casual players.

    You would probably have been better served by looking into the world of e-sports, as I know that there are games like Starcraft 2 and Street Fighter that have large communities and dozens of professionals that only play that game. I know that several Starcraft 2 pros have been moved into communal houses where all they do is play Starcraft, and considering a single Starcraft game can take upwards of half an hour, they no doubt have put far more time into perfecting their skills than these random Xbox Live picks have. Equally, Street Fighter 3 is still a common feature at Street Fighter tournaments, despite having been out for well over 15 years. I have no doubt that several of the long serving professionals in that scene have put in the 10K hours and more over the years that they have played that – along with Street Fighter 1, 2 and 4, all of which have transferable skills in the Street Fighter franchise. Plus, this isn’t even dipping a toe into some of the other games played competively, like League of Legends and any number of other fighters.

    Like I said, this is a good article, but I don’t think that it went deep enough :)

  2. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I’d actually say that Keegan’s argument is flawed, or at least missing the point… well, the point that I took from it anyway. The article talks about ‘gamers’, not ‘gaming professionals’… and there’s a very great difference between juggling life and gaming to dedicate those sorts of hours and being paid to do nothing but that all day. It’s like comparing the skills of a seasoned pilot to someone who merely partakes in the occasional flying lesson.

  3. Chris Toffer says:

    Yeah I’d argue that looking at e-sports is largely redundant seeing as the true professionals of a game like Starcraft are usually playing 8-10 hours a day for 6 days of the week.

  4. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Okay, I can reply to this properly now. It blew me away a bit when I first read this, if I’m honest. I mean… I think I put something like 200 hours into Oblivion and a bit more into Fallout 3, and I thought that was pretty hardcore at the time. I’ve probably put more hours into Borderlands, but that’s been from countless playthroughs rather than playing the same game continually. I did honestly think that I’d put a LOT of effort into these games, until you hear Adam talk of spending 600+ hours playing Dota2… in beta… so it’s not even the official release and he’s already over 600 hours. That’s incredible.

    But yeah, when the submission came through and I read that someone played Battlefield 3 for 8.5 hours per day for over a year… and it WASN’T Toffer… that’s mind blowing. Either they’re unemployed, or single, or are just incredible at managing their time. I don’t think there’s one game I could play for eight hours per day, at least not for any longer than it was necessary to do so.

    I really enjoyed this though; I’m such a stat whore anyway so this just pumps my ‘nads.

  5. Richie rich says:

    That FIFA cunt needs to kill himself.

  6. SimonJK says:

    “Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness”. If you consider putting that into gaming itself instead of one game…well my next sentence would probably have stuff like Diety and wheres my Shrine in it.

    I’ve been gaming since the 80′s, but lets seriously look at what the kids call modern gaming shall we? My Raptr for last year alone clocks me at 2,418 hours http://raptr.com/SimonJK/summary/2012 and my total time at Raptr since May 2010 puts me at an impressive 6,674 – http://raptr.com/SimonJK/games

    Now before you’ll start envisioning me as some spotty geek sitting a girlfriendless virgin in my parents basement, you couldn’t be more wrong. I’ve been married 20 years have 7 kids and had a long blue collar career. Whats my trick? Have you seen the cr@p on schedualed TV?

    I’ve just like to bleed every minute possible out of the games I love – Borderlands 1 over 1000 hours, the sequel +700 hours and not finished yet. Morrowind 1,500+ hours, 800+ on Oblivion and 600 on Skyrim and based on £40 per game thats only £200, not bad cost effectiveness. I maintain that Videos games are the best entertainment source on the planet, can be cheap and also can offer a skill sets beyond the occasion headshot.

  7. SimonJK says:

    (err I dare not mention how long I spent playing Fallout 3 and New Vegas)

  8. Kris Kris says:

    Reminds me of that golfer (I forget who) that responded to “you’ve been quite lucky” with “yes and the more I practice the luckier I get.”

    I wonder what an analysis of Steam stats would add to this idea? I bet there are some people juggling life, ignoring TV (and loved ones at times) and averaging 2.5 hours a day – perhaps even for ten years. Probably wouldn’t call them gaming masters though – hardcore enthusiasts? Connoisseurs? Maybe master is an appropriate title – that or addict, heh. I know I’ve had a week or two that averaged 2.5 hours a day..

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