Home > Games, Life > Games and Skill Level

Games and Skill Level

Oh geez, people that carry smoke clouds with them on the bus…

I don’t consider myself a particularly competitive person when it comes to games.  I’ll strive to improve my skill level at anything I decide to play, but I don’t buy into the “play to win” mentality.  It’s a very narrow-minded view that ignores many reasons for people to play games (such as, you know, fun).  To be honest, I hate that crap because I feel it’s contributed to a trend in online gaming communities where people openly and unapologetically act self-important, arrogant and obnoxious.

A lot of people online make skill level personal, treating wins as proof that they’re better than someone and taking losses like personal insults.  While I think the way people act in a game reflects on their personality, I try to keep the way I regard someone separated from their skill level and just try to play the game.  For me, the ideal competitive situation involves people trying their absolute best to mercilessly kill each other when playing their game (whether it be a video game or a sport), and then heading out for dinner together once it’s all over.  Maybe that’s why the local Blazblue community is so appealing to me – they did exactly that.

I used to be much more competitive about things.  I have held unhealthy obsessions with certain games, which resulted in me spending far more time on them than most other people.  Naturally, the extra time spent meant that I eventually got very good at those games.  That’s not a boast – I’m not proud of that knowledge and skill because I don’t think it was worth the time spent to gain them.

Some people strive to be the best, and for some it is their only motive to work at something.  Maybe some are aware that there are many other people that are striving to do exactly the same thing, but hold this mindset regardless, thinking that he or she will simply beat them all and then all will be well.  That spirit is admirable, and it is even more admirable if you can maintain it over a long period of time, but I no longer think this is the way to go.

Let’s say that you – despite the fact that many, many people are striving for the same goal and may have more time, talent, or effort to spend than you – somehow become the best at something.  Everyone acknowledges you as the best, and you defeat every challenger to your title with almost casual ease.  What then?

Why did you spend so much time and effort on this?  To prove – whether to yourself or to others – that you are the best?  Did you enjoy all that practice or was it just a grind to you?  If you only wanted to prove something, then once you’ve proven it, was it really worth the time spent?  There are plenty of things in life to which your skill level at this one thing means nothing, and there are many people who simply won’t care.  If you enjoyed the competitive aspect of the game and thus enjoyed that climb to the top, good for you, but now that you’re the best, can you really say that there is any competition left?

Competitive games tend to be the most fun when you have someone at a similar level you can play with.  But if you’re the best, then you’ve isolated yourself.  You’re left waiting for someone to improve to your level and continue that competition.  In highly competitive fields with extremely large playerbases, that is likely to happen sooner or later.  But in smaller communities, depending on how far ahead you are, that may never happen.  At the same time, your status separates you from others that you once played with.   Less people may be willing to play you because the skill gap means that they will feel like they are bashing their head into a wall and you may simply be bored by the lack of challenge.

So after a certain point, your efforts to become the best will actually result in less play at the game you loved so much.  Your status and skill level may isolate you to the point that you are bored by everyone that you play.  In the end, you may end up dropping the game altogether because there is nothing left to do.  Is that really the result that you wanted?

It’s something to think about when you tell yourself that you want to be the best.  It’s natural to want to climb any skill ladder that you join, but you have to be careful not to go overboard on it.  Everyone knows that it sucks to be at the bottom of the ladder, but few seem to realize how lonely it must be at the top.

Categories: Games, Life
  1. Zefris
    March 16, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Akuun! Gewd post! I totally agree with everything that’s written here.

  2. hourai
    March 22, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    smells like iamp

  3. Akuun
    March 22, 2010 at 1:33 PM

    Not just IaMP. I think this applies to pretty much every competitive environment.

  4. popoiyo
    March 29, 2012 at 3:35 PM

    Or Blazblue! Oh hai.

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