A great deal of my game time for several years has been primarily in MMOs, specifically in the more co-operative aspects of the genre. Dungeons, guilds, roleplay, even minor raids have all been my bread and butter for gaming. Of recent, however, my mind has shifted towards a competitive play style. Perhaps it’s because of the length of time I have devoted to co-op gaming, or because I’m keeping up with a new year’s resolution, but more and more I see myself try to enter games that require a more competitive edge. I find myself wanting to become useful in the more dynamic world of team versus team (TvT) or player versus player (PvP).
This has all been a new adventure for me, and it got me thinking about how other games let me grow in to my own, and whether or not other PvP games would allow me that same amount of time.
A game like Bloodborne is punishing in ways that other games are not. It showed me how perseverance and determination could be an ally in spite of seemingly insane odds and a perceptibly high skill ceiling. It also got me seeking out other games that fed that need… that weird, almost masochistic want to be punched in the head and grow stronger through it. Basically, every Kung Fu mastery story ever told.
From the challenging single-player, I moved to other games like Street Fighter V and Splatoon. I found myself eagerly enrolling in the school of hard knocks and becoming comfortable with the idea that dedicated gameplay breeds skill. Not only that, both games let me space and time to get acclimated. I was allowed to learn from wins and losses both, reflecting on my own performance and perception of it instead of being force-fed the opinion of others. In short, I was potted, watered and grew. I’m sure there was some meta somewhere you can’t use a Roller weapon or Chun-Li… but I was having too much fun to care.
The thing I’ve feared most as I’ve made my journey through competitive games has always been that fear of letting others down, or of not being good enough. Of course, I can appreciate why others get upset about playing alongside someone new – you’re having to now redouble your efforts and work in order to make sure the team can get their win or objective. However, “effort” and “work” are always anathema to me when it comes to gaming. Those words should only be applied to games if you’re developing one, not playing one. Having a new player in your game should not make you immediately think of failure, it should make you happy that others want to try. And those others should be allowed the time and space to take however many ass whoopings it takes to “git gud”.
The onus isn’t just on current players, though — it’s as much a mental exercise as it is a dexterous one. It’s up to us to embrace the thought that one’s own simple existence is going to cause someone with a short temper and poor insult skills to get mad. It’s up to us to use that as fuel for your own spark, or to ignore the more vitriolic noises and move on. It’s up to us to be alright with losing because it’s the way you learn. Take the lessons from the bruises and come at them again, or at a different angle. Screw the meta and grow in to your own.
As games like Camelot Unchained and Overwatch and Crowfall start to come along, we’re likely going to see a competitive gaming grow even more. With new games, comes the fact that the majority of people are going to be new. This is an exciting and encouraging time to be involved in PvP and TvT gaming, and everyone should be allowed the opportunity to play. We don’t have to hold hands and sing in harmony, but we shouldn’t gate people or find new arrivals as an invasion. If anything, it’s a direct byproduct of the booming esports scene.
As we move forward, my best is advice is to find the fun in failure. I know the value of victory and the sensation of honest progress that was missing from my MMO diet. If I don’t get it out of the gate, then that doesn’t mean the end. It’s just another cut on my knuckles until I am able to punch through that tree. Just wait and see…
All images captured from Bloodborne, Splatoon and Street Fighter V are property of Sony Computer Entertainment, Nintendo and Capcom respectively.