How the art of paper folding made me a better gamer

Abbe "DieHardBirdie" Borg

This article is part of “Pro Player Perspectives” an ongoing series of articles written by pro players, coaches, and casters.

At 78-years-old, Abbe “DiehardBirdie” Borg, is the world’s oldest esports champion, having won the Seniors CS:GO tournament at DreamHack Summer 2019.

Nothing has been the same since my career in esports started over four years ago. When I started as a gamer, it was all about developing the skills and preparing ourselves to play at the competitions. It was a big shift for me, from being an artist to becoming a pro-gamer. There are differences in the lifestyle of an artist and a gamer but I also found some similarities between the two careers.

I have been an artist for the past 50 years. I made my art pieces out of paper, napkins, copper, and brass sheets as my main materials. I folded paper sheets to create figures like dancing ballerinas, flowers, animals, and other shapes. I got inspired by what I see around me and that’s how I got my ideas for my art pieces.

I did have that big leap from my career as an artist into my current career path as a pro-gamer. There were some difficulties along the way but I found my esports journey to be interesting and exciting.

I was already in my early 70s when I started playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). I still have a long way to go but I am taking my time and enjoying it.

Here are some of the skills I have gained through my years of being an artist that helped me improve as a professional gamer.

Dexterity

As an artist, I consider myself skilled in using my hands. After all, I fold and roll sheets made of paper or napkin to create my artworks. Both of my hands are at ease in carefully folding and rolling each sheet to create a figure. I am quite dexterous and it was an advantage on my part when I became a pro-gamer.

Hand-eye coordination is one of the fundamental skills developed in playing esports. Fast typing skill is a huge advantage especially if you are playing on a computer, using a keyboard, or using a console. You click fast, you move fast. Faster is definitely better when you play solo or team competitive games.

The muscles in our fingers and hands get their share of exercise when playing. I had to train almost every day to learn the keys and the control buttons for the game.

It’s easier if you memorize the letters on the keyboard and learn how to use the mouse for motion control because fast fingers are better in playing games.

However, paper folding takes time and every shape, fold, and roll is detailed. Making art out of paper is a delicate process.

You can’t move too fast or too slow because it will affect the form of your piece. Whether you play games or make art, you can always practice helping develop your skills.

Perception

Aside from being dexterous, perception and eyesight are very important factors for both pro-gamers and artists. Getting to know the bigger picture provides a better perception and a better understanding of a concept for both artists and gamers.

When I am making art, I am focused on my canvas which is usually a sheet of paper or napkin. The depth of my perception is defined by the material I am using.

As I have mentioned before, paper folding is very delicate because every fold and roll should be detailed. It’s better to visualize your idea before you start folding.

I would start with a blank piece and then after several folds and rolls, the figure starts to take form. You should pay attention to your creation and adjust the form and the shape of your piece as you go along until you get your desired final form.

It’s almost the same when I play esports. When I trained to play CS:GO, I would look at the maps available and study it. It made me understand the objective of the game better as I get to see the layout of the map.

It gave me ideas on where to go, where to hide, and where to get a better position for offense and defense. It’s also a key factor for planning the strategy in a solo or team play.

I believe that playing games also improved my eyesight and the depth of my perception as I needed to always look at my surroundings, look at the map’s layout, and to be aware of my enemies while I carry out the game’s mission.

Flexibility

I am older than most esports pros and one can say that it puts me at a disadvantage. However, my age did not stop me from learning new things and from being an esports champion. I may be 78 years old but one of the things I have gained in playing esports was the improvement of my flexibility in making quick decisions inside the game.

Things don’t always go according to plan. It’s better to have your plan A but you also need to have your plan B. The game can go sideways in just a second and you either lose or win the game. You have to be flexible in your movements and be quick in your judgments. Having quicker reflexes can help you adjust in every situation and eventually help you win a game. 

In the past decades, I have learned to be at ease and be flexible whenever I am making my artworks. I try to have a balance between being relaxed and being meticulous when it comes to details.

Even in art, it’s normal that mistakes and mishaps happen. I learned to adapt and be flexible whenever mistakes happen when I am making my artworks.

I may have missed a fold or detail but it can still be fixed and it could become a part of my piece. Nothing is perfect and we can always try to do better and be better.

Whether you are playing esports or making art, you need patience. There are so many factors that go into making art and playing games so you just have to be patient and wait for your next move. Take the time to develop your skills and hone your craft. One day, you’ll improve and be a better version of yourself.

You can reach out to Abbe “DieHardBirdie” Borg at diehardbirdie@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitch, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.