For the longest time I never cared much for being too serious while playing competitive games. Mainly because, at the time, I was barely good enough to handle myself, never mind playing on a competitive level. As time went on and my general skill across several different game genres went up, I began to get that competitive edge that I never knew I had. That I never knew I wanted.
I’ve played fighting games for years but I’d always just try to play for fun without getting in too deep. Truth is, I’d always been competitive deep down but I didn’t want to admit that. Admitting it would be appearing as a sore loser during play sessions with friends, while simultaneously hurting their enjoyment by being ‘too good’. I know that sounds odd, but as a kid no one wants to be in that scenario. Called ‘cheap’ or ‘unfair’ just because you beat them at a game. It’s why I kind of held myself back, believing that I could always have fun as long as I never really tried.
Truth is, I was deluding myself. I, more than anyone, wanted badly to win. All the time. I wanted to be better than people, I wanted to strive harder and achieve more. But from years of being made to feel bad in school for being ‘smart’ or ‘strong’, you can imagine how it affected me. I also didn’t want people to feel bad, so I constantly let myself be the underdog so everyone else could have fun. Sad thing is that it meant I wasn’t having fun. It meant that I was always losing and watching others do what I wanted to do. I’d have never said it then, but it almost made me want to stop playing games.
Now, before you think I’m being pompous, I don’t presume to say that I was a perfect player. Not at all. I had the capacity to grow and the drive to win, I just never utilized it. If you want to see how bad I used to be at fighting games you can just go to my YouTube and go to all the early BlazBlue and SSFIV replays. I’ve come a long way since then. It’s part of why I’ve decided to not take those vids down: as crappy as they are, in terms of quality and gameplay, they’re a reminder of my progress. So yeah, I wasn’t the best at competitive games for a long time, but I wanted to be better. I wanted to win.
These days I spend a lot of time grinding it out in each game that I can, trying to figure out how to develop my own unique style, as well as learning from others. I finally decided to jump into Ranked play in Advanced Warfare, although it’s still stuck on pre-season at the moment for Xbox 360. I’ve enjoyed playing AW normally, just like in other CODs, but I couldn’t help but feel like there was something I should be doing that I just wasn’t figuring it out. It then dawned on me that I felt that I was ready to tackle the truly competitive side of COD, so I began to play ranked matches. I played a few ranked matches in Black Ops II, but only for a short while. What really drove me to do it was the confidence in my abilities after a long history with the COD games. As my followers likely know, I’m a huge COD fan, and I buy each game every year. With Advanced Warfare, by my 3rd prestige I felt like I’d already come to grips with the new mechanics and the new meta, and it was time to test my skills properly.
After years of playing COD and being consistently decent, improving in gun skill and learning how to win engagements, I needed to know if I really had that competitive edge. It’s nice to see my name at the top of scoreboards in public matches sure, but you can only know how good you really are when you go up against others players who are playing to win seriously. So far, Ranked play has been very enlightening. It’s had its ups and downs, mainly to do with players leaving the match and causing the player counts to be uneven. There’s also the fact that I’m playing solo; I don’t have a team or clan to play with, which means I can’t reasonably rely on people and there’s a chance they’ll leave the game. Regardless, I’ve been trying my best to finally get serious with COD after years of just kind of leaning back. I don’t think I’ll be ‘MLG pro’ or whatever, but I’ve always wanted to see just how far I can go against skilled players.
I wouldn’t say that I’m completely serious in all the games I play. In games like League of Legends and Smite, I’ve dabbled in PVP (mainly in Smite, Arena is REALLY fun), but for the most part I take it easy and just enjoy fighting bots. I think that in time I’ll begin to play more seriously, with experience and hopefully with a better laptop too, haha. I’m hoping I get a Xbox One eventually because I’ll definitely want to play Smite on there, especially since I already use a 360 controller for the PC version. It’s a bit hard to play PVP on my laptop due to the hardware not keeping up with the action. Not much I can do about that for now.
So in general, I’ve always had the competitive spirit but I only recently felt the motivation to pursue it. With fighting games, I may enjoy making combo videos and compilations but I also strive hard to be decent enough to win consistently. I can never rest easy on my skill, there’s always more to do. And with other games like COD and Smite, I tend to play casually but I am getting more into the competitive side there too. For me, it’s not necessarily about being the best or winning tournaments; I want to be able to get to the point where, regardless of if I win or lose, I can be content with how I played and the progress I’ve made. That’s the satisfaction I need.