Editorial: I Want To Be the Very Best

I responded to Scott’s recent editorial on playing games with friends saying that because I was not very good at video games in general, I did not mind when I lost over and over again. Instead, I would prefer to just have fun playing and take any learning experiences that I could from it.

Olimar ftw

One game that I will claim to not suck at.

I use this reasoning a lot, and while I believe it to be generally true when it comes to StarCraft II specifically, I do wonder if I am being fully honest in saying that I do not care much about winning in video games. Games require conditions to proceed, even if some are easier than others. Even Flower has tasks to complete before the player is able to continue to the next level and – believe it or not – there are ways to die in that game. But obviously an experience like that is more about the ride than it is about the challenge.

Yet, although I am able to enjoy the slower, more thoughtful, and – let us face it – easier games, if I look to a game like Super Smash Bros Brawl, I have a much harder time swallowing losses.

I have not played the game in a while, but there was a time when I would constantly battle friends and pride myself to win almost always against most and win half the time against excellent players. Intense fights that ended in a loss would give me extreme frustration and play sessions were always riddled with swearing.

So what is the difference between that and StarCraft or any other game that I consistently lose at?

That only answer I can come up with is that I do not consider myself very good at video games. But that is a point I mentioned before, and pointing to Brawl or Tetris DS or games I used to play as a child, it is obvious that I am actually very capable of being good at video games if I try.

In fact, I remember in my horrible trip to Murfreesboro, I played some Call of Duty game that I had never played before. I beat both Riddles and his friend although they had both played a fair share of the game.

So maybe it is because I get so competitive when I am good at a game that I purposefully avoid putting too much effort into a title so that I can retain the fun.

StarCraft is hard.

A game I will NEVER claim to be good at.

Maybe that is reading too much into it and maybe I just do not have the time to throw into any one game in order to become anything more than a beginner, especially when my primary love are time-consuming JRPGs.

Still, with my gaming attention so scattered, it is nice to remember the feeling of victory. It is good to think back on when I would crush any challengers as Olimar or when I could speedrun Super Mario Land on the original Game Boy. It is all well and good to play RPGs in which I can over-level myself or to play Zelda games that have become relatively easy compared to their old-school counterparts, but that is more about exploring a world and experiencing a story than it is about overcoming a challenge. And I like having that option.

But maybe it is time to come out of my shell and not just assume I will suck at a game before I even try it. Maybe it is time to just lose most of my games in StarCraft instead of nearly all of them.

Either way, I think I will stop saying I am not good at video games as it is becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. And like I said, it would be nice to say that one day I could hit the Platinum or Diamond league on the competitive StarCraft II ladder. Now, in the grand scheme of things, that is still not good compared to the pros, but there will always been somebody better.

Except in Pokémon. I will be the very best. Like no one ever was.

What about you, LusiBattlers? Get competitive in video games? Do you consider yourself to be a skilled gamer? Are games more about the challenge or the experience for you? A mixture of both? Is this too many questions? Is there such a thing as too many questions? Oh there is? Should I stop then? Did you have to be so mean about it? Fine.

5 Comments

  1. Deimosion
    Posted 2012.10.24 at 03:56 | Permalink

    I’m not at all good at League of Legends, and I definitely know it. If I lose because the other team genuinely outplayed us, then I still consider the game worth the experience. If the reason we lost is because our jungler was an idiot or because or carry fucked up and died 8 times in 10 minutes, well that’s when I get upset.

    I do get very competitive in some games, but when I stop having fun, I stop playing, simple as that.

  2. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.10.28 at 21:26 | Permalink

    We are not very good at Starcraft.

    But I am very good at TF2. Strangely, I never play TF2. Maybe after I get the new computer. I’m tired of fighting with this one all the time.

  3. Imitanis
    Posted 2012.10.29 at 10:13 | Permalink

    There are few games I claim to be good at. World of Warcraft is one of those. Starcraft is not. I enjoy playing SC2, though anyone with a little skill can give me a sound thrashing.

  4. Lusipurr
    Posted 2012.10.30 at 01:20 | Permalink

    @Imitanis: I think my interest in SC2 wanes whenever I go against human beings precisely because I do not seem to learn anything significant from my defeats.

    In TF2, the distance between spawn and death can be pretty short, and so there are only so many choices to make before death. Bad choices can often result in instant death, and the game is designed in such a way as to make it pretty clear what your mistake was. You learn VERY quickly “don’t do X”, or “do Y”. This is highly constructive and leads to rapid improvement, if one is even moderately attentive.

    In SC2, the distance between game start and finish is comparatively vast, with hundreds–if not thousands–of choices made along the way, any of which might individually cost one the game. Even a reasonably critical person would have trouble finding out what went wrong without an expert there to guide them, even if that critical person had replays to watch over and over again. It could be a systemic issue, it could be a general slowness, it could be a single error, it could be a matter of being directly outmatched, it could be luck–the game is *very poor* about showing you where you went wrong. In fact, it couldn’t be much worse, since it doesn’t show you where you went wrong at all. This makes defeat very frustrating because, by and large, you have no idea why you lost–only that you did lose, and the circumstances of that loss are only known proximately (he crushed me with flying, and I didn’t have enough anti-air), which is itself not the actual root cause of defeat, only the proximate cause.

  5. Ethos
    Posted 2012.10.30 at 09:56 | Permalink

    This is why I call SC2 a sport. Because as a game, Lusipurr is entirely correct. Within the game itself, there are no tools to improve. Very few hints even. Just like if someone were given an American football, thrown in an outfit and put onto the field on an NFL team. They have all the tools to play the game, but if they had never watched a game or had a conversation about it, not only would they get crushed (in every sense), they wouldn’t get any sense of strategy; maybe just a general sense of what the goals are.

    StarCraft II is similar. To improve, you have to do a lot of research, you need to know how to analyze your replays, you need to know which things to improve to know you are making progress. And you need to practice your face off. It’s why it IS an esport that can be played at a professional level. A player needs to be excellent in his or her mechanics, strategy, dexterity, scouting, macro, and micro to even be considered to be a top player.

    If you ask for advice as a beginner, you’ll most likely only hear “macro better”.
    And that is true. Good macro will make a bronze player into a platinum or diamond player, no matter the strategy. However, that “simple” answer is definitely not simple. Those two syllables consist of getting the right number of workers at the right time, expanding correctly, getting up production at the exact right time to keep up with your income, and ensuring you don’t get supply blocked. Those tasks alone are incredibly stressful and difficult to even become competent at. Much less commanding an army around a map to position the best possible attack angle, battle micro, constantly scouting your opponent, and harassing.

    So Lusi is right and it’s why some people have played hundreds and hundreds of games yet remained in the bronze league. When I was playing the most, I was able to reach Gold league, but that’s because of all the professional games I watch, the Day[9] I watch, and having Pogo (a far superior player) watching a lot of my games and being able to point to particularly large problem areas.

    So StarCraft – despite its excellence as a sport – isn’t very helpful as a game. At all.