The ladder of knowledge: game content creation


Many people think they must be at the top of their industry or field before they can help others. But that’s not true.

You don’t have to be an expert to teach other people.

In this article, I explore why we mistakenly think we need to be an expert in a subject before we can teach others with our gaming content and why that’s not true. 

I’ll talk about: 

  • What’s an expert, anyway? 
  • The ladder of knowledge. 
  • How you always have something to teach.
  • How to easily become an expert.

Let’s start with the first section and clarify what an expert is. 

What’s an expert? 

In this first section, I’d like to answer the question of what an expert is and why expertise is relative. 

According to Wikipedia, an expert is: 

“An expert is someone who, through practice and training in a particular field, has a broad and deep understanding and competence in knowledge, skills, and experience.”

In my opinion, this definition of an expert leaves out an essential ingredient from the expertise mix: relativity.

We all think that an expert is someone who’s studied at a college for three years and has a degree. Yes, for many people, that would be an expert. But actually, that’s not true. This is because expertise is relative between the supposed expert and the non-expert. 

Expertise is just the perceived difference in knowledge between one person and another, regardless of the level of knowledge.

For example, imagine you’re teaching a child how to play catch. Who are you to teach a kid how to play catch? You’ve never played baseball! But as you probably know, that doesn’t matter. You can still teach the kid how to play catch.

How? 

Because you’re an expert in throwing and catching a ball relative to the child. 

Many content creators never start writing about games or creating YouTube videos because they feel they’ve nothing to offer and aren’t experts in the game they love to play. 

But you don’t have to be better than everyone else in order to teach. You just have to be an expert relative to some people. 

Okay, so in this section, you’ve learned that your expertise is relative to those around you. You can teach others as long as their knowledge is relatively lower than yours.

In the next section, I’ll introduce the knowledge ladder to further explain the idea of relative expertise. Let’s take a look at it. 

The ladder of knowledge

In the last section, I talked about how expertise is relative. 

In this section, I introduce the ladder of knowledge to further explain the idea of relative expertise. 

The knowledge ladder is a concept I developed over 5 years ago. Once upon a time, I was struggling with content creation. Not because I couldn’t create good content. But because I thought that to teach, I needed to master the art of writing. If anybody was to listen to me, I needed to be one of the best content creators in the world.

Over time, however, I realized that this limiting belief was utterly wrong. And I developed the concept of the knowledge ladder to explain it. 

Imagine a ladder with 10 rungs. Each rung of the ladder represents an increasing level of knowledge one can achieve in a particular subject. 

The lowest rung is a very low level of knowledge. Maybe someone just watched a video on this topic. The top rung represents mastery. This is usually achieved by reading many books and, sometimes, a doctorate.

Yes I drew this. And Yes, I know I’ve got to improve a lot.

All rungs in between represent different levels of knowledge on the topic.

For example, someone on the 4th rung has more knowledge than someone on the 2nd rung. 

Most of us think – wrongly, I might add – that we have to be on the highest rung to teach. But this is wrong. 

You just have to be one or more rungs higher on the knowledge ladder than the person you want to teach. 

Let’s look at the example of teaching a child how to play catch. 

As you know, an adult knows more about playing catch than a child. Well, most of the time anyway. 

Imagine the child is on the first rung and the adult is on the fourth. The adult can teach the child how to play catch because he’s higher up on the knowledge ladder than the child. There’s a knowledge gap. 

The child climbs the knowledge ladder as they play catch with the adult. After a few weeks, the child can climb from rung 2 to rung 3. This closes the knowledge gap between the child and the adult. 

Eventually, the child climbs to the same rung as the adult. They’re both on rung 4. Their relative expertise is equal – the knowledge gap has been closed. The child can no longer learn anything from the adult because there is no knowledge gap between them. To improve further and move up the knowledge ladder, the child must find a new mentor who’s even higher up the ladder, for example, on rung 6 or 7. 

As a game content creator, you may be on the fourth or fifth rung of the knowledge ladder for the game you love. There are a lot of rungs below you, meaning there are many people below you who can learn from you. You have a positive knowledge gap compared to them. You can teach them until this gap is filled.

So never think you don’t know enough to teach others. You’re probably further up the knowledge ladder than you think. And there will be many people below you who’ll appreciate being taught by you. Plus, you can always learn more and move up the knowledge ladder, so there are more people below you to teach. 

In this section, we’ve learned that we’re all clinging to the “ladder of knowledge.” You can teach anyone below you on the ladder, and you can be taught by anyone higher than you. 

In the next section, I’ll go into how you can quickly gain expertise to teach more people with more confidence. See you there. 

How to quickly acquire “expertise” so you can teach with confidence.

In the last section, I talked about how you always have something to teach. That’s because your expertise is relative, and you can teach people below you on the knowledge ladder. 

In this section, I’ll go over how to quickly become an expert. You can scamper up the knowledge ladder and confidently teach more people with your content. 

You want to be an expert so you can confidently teach with your content.

The best way to do that is to read books. I’d say if you manage to read 3 books on a topic, you know more about that topic than 99.9% of the population. 

In any case, you’d be considered an expert by most people. And if you internalized all the material in the books, you could easily teach the subject. 

For example, if you want to become a relative expert at writing blog posts about games, you should read 3 books on writing blog posts. I promise you’ll end up being an expert at writing game blogs. 

You can also replace reading books with videos if you want. In my experience, most videos don’t contain nearly as much information as a book. However, if the topic you want to become an expert in is practical, like DIY, videos might be a better choice. 

How to go from expert to master

In the last section, I talked about how reading 3 books on a topic is enough to become an expert.

This section will look at how to go from expert to master. 

What if you want or need to take your expertise to a higher level? What if you’ve decided to take the long road from expert to master?

Then you need to find a mentor. Someone passionate about their field and determined to help others. Someone who’ll guide you, teach you, and help you grow. 

This can be harder than it sounds. Most masters are so busy that they don’t have time to care about individual students.

But that’s not always the case.

Finding a mentor for content creation is still possible, either directly or indirectly. 

Here are some places for you to start:

  1. Local universities and colleges
  2. Local adult education centers
  3. Local adult education programs
  4. Local homeschooling groups
  5. Local bookstores and libraries
  6. Meetup.com (is a great resource)
  7. Craigslist
  8. Facebook groups (there are a lot of them).
  9. LinkedIn groups
  10. Twitter (follow the hashtag #icourse).
  11. Websites like Udemy and SkillShare (these are online courses).
  12. Online forums related to your field.
  13. Conferences and seminars related to your field. 
  14. You can follow an expert you admire on their favorite blog.

Summary. 

I really enjoyed writing this article. It’s always good to remind ourselves where we are on the ladder of knowledge. That there are many people we can teach regardless of our level of expertise. 

After touching on many points in this article, I thought I’d end with a summary of the most essential points. Here’s how it works: 

  • An expert has relatively more knowledge or skill than someone else. 
    • That means you can teach anyone who’s relatively less knowledgeable than you.
    • Conversely, it means you can be taught by people who’ve relatively more knowledge than you. 
    • So it’s about the relative difference in knowledge between the other person and you.
  • This can be easily explained with the concept of the knowledge ladder.
    • For any given subject, there’s a ladder of knowledge with masters at the top and beginners at the bottom. 
    • You can teach anyone on the ladder who’s below you.
    • For example, if you’re on the 4th rung, you can teach people on the 3rd rung.
    • Conversely, you can be taught by people on any rung above you. 
  • This concept is important for content creation because it means your content can always teach people something. So never feel like you’ve to be an expert to teach. 
  • If you want to become an expert in a field and boost your confidence, read 3 books on that topic. 
  • If you want to master a subject, find a mentor at the top of the knowledge ladder.

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Nick Sinclair

Having played games since the golden age of the Commodore 64, Nick finally took the plunge and studied Creative Game Design in university. After 3 years of "Study", Nick co-founded a games company where he soon discovered his true calling: writing about games. 11 years later Nick writes about a tower of topics, but gaming is always stacked neatly at the top.

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