Personality Flaws

Demigod is basically dead to me. Along with it, Left 4 Dead, Halo 3 and basically every real time strategy game conceived by the hands of mortal men. It’s not that there is anything fundamentally wrong with these fine games nor their presentation of apocalyptically dysfunctional worlds, but that there exists a class of citizenry who have since taken control, and their tyranny seems immutable. They wield terrible and magical skills based on what I assume to be a contractual obligation with dark forces. I am no video game revolutionary, and I cede these multiverses to the superiority of their existing warring factions.

I realize that I could perhaps make a seven course meal of sour grapes — sour grapes crab puffs, followed by sour grape salad with a lovely balsamic vinaigrette dressing and then sour grape infused foie gras soaked in a lovely duck jus, etc — but despite my best efforts to be a better person, I remain stubbornly jealous and petulant when people are better at things than I am. This inferiority complex is compounded when people act in the ways that they tend to while online, which is to say like ill-cultured children.

As a less than elevated human being, the strongest factor in game abandonment for me is how far I’ve fallen behind the talent curve.

I think, to some degree, the reason I hold so strongly onto a game like Rock Band or World of WarCraft is because I at least approach some measure of adequacy which can sustain my ego far better than learning an entirely new game and being bad at it for a year or two. That I have a WoW character who engages with moderate success in various heroic instances, or that I can approximate the vague hint of a tempo to the game’s satisfaction is for me the equivalent of a gaming aphrodisiac.

I take my gaming Spanish Fly quite seriously, thank you.

This is not news to many people, including those who have bested me at a competition only to find that I quickly lose interest in direct proportion to the gap of my defeat. I recall with no sense of pride as site co-founder Shawn “Certis” Jerk would regularly exploit my incompetence in NFL 2k5 again and again, always with patronizing words of encouragement that urged bile ridden fluids deep into the tender mercies of my esophagus. I recall committing myself to off-hours training, practiced passing schemes, elaborate defenses devised as custom strategies to offset his endless molestation of 10-yard crossing patterns, and all of it eventually for naught. Finally, I conceded my last defeat with casual indifference that was so forced it might have been able to lift a Winnebago, and I rage quit in the privacy of my own skull.

I marvel at people who play competitively with others, languish in last place and feel a sense of contentment. They are an alien species that I suspect should be dissected to find the hole inside their skull where my overdeveloped sense of impotent competition resides, if only so I can be properly lobotomized in the same ways that they are.

As you might suspect, this makes me a thoroughly unpleasant person to be around some of the time. While I won’t describe it as a primary trait, it certainly takes on a dominant role when triggered. I suppose if I were better-abled at clearly competitive events like video games, being funny or having a casual discussion I’d unleash the demon far more often, but as a seemingly elaborate cosmic joke, I’m also the ultimate choke artist.

You ever see those athletes, playing for the honor and glory of historic fame, who collapse under the weight of the pressure of their endeavor? That’s me, but in totally ordinary circumstances like beating a fellow shopper to the 10 items and under line or merging onto an interstate.

Were real life like the Sims 3 in which each person has a set of predefined traits, mine would likely be:

Tall
Hairy
Friendly
Competitive to an unhealthy degree
Unable to accomplish the simplest tasks in which performance is measured.

Were I to go to the dentist tomorrow and be asked to demonstrate how I’ve been brushing teeth to make sure I’m doing it right, I’d likely start rubbing toothpaste on the tip of my nose with a fork. In my head a panicked and bewildered voice would cry out, “No, you fool. You’re doing it wrong. Stop faiiillling!”

So, I do not frequent much of the competitive spaces of online games with this odd affliction. It is, one must admit, among the worst possible personality trait combinations to have, like indiscreet and talkative or exhibitionist and poor body image. Despite the fact that I have no reason to expect that my Demigod or Halo 3 skills would be anything aside from subpar, I would play these games with the impotent fury of a provoked gerbil with a muscular disorder. On rare occasions I will find something for which I have some rare natual affinity, and I cling to them like a tiny, baby monkey clings to the underbelly of its overactive mother.

So, in short, if you’ve ever sent me a game invite for some friendly, casual competition and been wordlessly rebuffed, know that I was in fact doing us all a favor.

Comments

I understand where you're coming from, and I empathize. But, don't give up the good parts, the wise-cracks, the camaraderie, the shop talk, just because someone out BRs you, or out strategerizes you. Most importantly, make sure you're playing with "good people" who are there to have fun, socialize, and play a good game, rather than pwn n00bs.

I actually kinda like losing at a game I don't really know that well. I start getting annoyed when it's a game I can win, and should be good at by now and I still lose to someone who is godlike in their ability to humiliate online opponents. I'm even okay with knowing what I'm doing and losing in a close match. It's just getting trounced by someone who is insane that I have problems with.

I'm fine with learning but I get pretty annoyed when I know what I'm doing and still lose badly.

I actually kinda like losing at a game I don't really know that well.

He's a witch! Burn him!

You should play Gears and Beers sometime. Wait until about 2 am, when everyone's burned out and pretty drunk and tired from arguing about how the grenade blast radius is too big, or there's no way he got me with that shotgun. Then hop in (undrunkenly, if possible). You'll clean up!

I have this issue with PC shooters. I'm still new to the PC gaming world, and the few times I've tried to play Team Fortress 2 or COD4, I feel like the game's bullet sponge. I know that I would probably become more proficient if I were to play more, but sometimes it's easier to retreat to single player, where I can adjust the difficulty until I feel that false sense of accomplishment intoxicate me.

I exhibit a younger cousin to this, particularly when I am boardgaming. If luck is against me, it can be quite frustrating, but it's manageable to a greater degree. I may pout, but I'll try to keep my spirits up and stay in the game so others can carry-on. A perfect example is Galaxy Trucker - where it's the system rather than another player that tweaks your nose and send you spiraling into defeat.

BUT if the game is directly confrontational, and it's another player's agency responsible for my misery... that's harder to swallow. Particularly when it *seems* that they're attacking me for a meta reason (i.e. I'm not in the lead per se). Worse still is when they take great glee in cutting me so low on their turn! Of course, most of that is all in my head, and I realize it... but still...err!

I am really trying to work on it, partly by approaching the game in question as an exercise in fun; i.e. trying to make it a fun atmosphere much as I would as a DM/GM in an RPG that I am running and less like a competitor. By creating some false sense of deflection (He's not attacking me, he's attacking the NPC sort of), it seems to sting less.

I imagine this is harder in a straight-up RTS or FPS. I suck in those too, so I tend not to play against others.

Finally, I conceded my last defeat with casual indifference that was so forced it might have been able to lift a Winnebago, and I rage quit in the privacy of my own skull.

I could have cooked a pan of muffins using the rage heat emanating from my Xbox Live headset. Knowing you were all "Yeah, good game" and then throwing a man-tantrum after you signed off makes those victories all the sweeter.

All this in mind, I'm stunned at your indifference to coop as always. All the camaraderie, none of the competition! But of course you can't help yourself, can you? If there's a score at the end, you want to have the highest number. *sigh*

I marvel at people who play competitively with others, languish in last place and feel a sense of contentment. They are an alien species that I suspect should be dissected to find the hole inside their skull where my overdeveloped sense of impotent competition resides, if only so I can be properly lobotomized in the same ways that they are.

That mostly describes me. I would not recommend a lobotomy to rectify your problem though. I guess I have just accepted that I am, and forever will be, behind the learning curve. Now I'm no witch that likes to lose. I genuinely try to win every time, but it just never happens, and I'm ok with that. It is about the journey not the results.

Elysium that sure was a lot of words for "I'm old and you young rascals beating the tar out of me makes me angry".

Like Certis I feed off the rage of people I best, notably FPS games like "The Hidden" or "Action Halflife". That said, when tables are turned there's nothing more frustrating.

On a related note it took me 40 minutes to beat Zangief in arcade mode in SF4. On Easy. If I didn't love my TV so much there would have been a 360-controller-shaped-hole in the centre.

Also on a related note, I really enjoyed Demigod until I played it online and realized how much I actually suck at it.

Yeah, it's all about the coop comp stomp. Why compete when you and some friends can beat the living sh*t out of an inanimate object? And remember, drinking while playing is a must; it keeps the competitive and fail-while-performing-for-others demons at bay. Wait until the kids go to bed, pour a nice glass of scotch (or open that case of Corona, Your Majesty ;-)), slip on the headset, and then destroy that AI!

What's the picture of the monkey supposed to represent? Your beaten ego? Your competitive edge? Or were you just looking to elicit sympathy from the get go with those big black eyes...

I'm with you on most of the games that focus on competition. It's hard for me to justify paying full price for a game I know I'll be hugely frustrated by for a large period of time.

This article pairs nicely with Rabbit's piece about his son being a competitive wimp. You and the boy have a few things in common

Elysium wrote:
I actually kinda like losing at a game I don't really know that well.

He's a witch! Burn him!

Quickly everybody turn off your flashlights!

See what I did there? Is that giving you flashbacks to Left 4 Dead? The game where you lose. All the time.

I feel pretty gleeful when I can beat Kepheus at something (like handing him his butt in those Marvel games) - do I need to rub it in tell him he plays like a girl? No, but I do it.

Of course, since he kicks my butt at every other game ever, he lets me have my tiny victory. It evens out.

Stuff like Call of Duty's leveling system seems like designers way to motivate people who are bad and new in multiplayer. Maybe it should make it easy with your monkey.

I lack the killer-instinct required to ignite in me that ever-burning desire for victory in competitive experiences in general. It's probably because I'm too much of a carebear, but the few people I've given the opportunity to best me derived little joy from my nonchalant reaction.

I've found that I'm okay with losing as long as I'm not sincerely trying to win. That is, if I go into a game with the expectation of having fun then I won't get very worked up about how things shake down, but if I'm in it to be competitive then I stop having fun and start getting angry whenever I lose. And I will lose; I'm not very good at games, and no matter how much I play a game I'm likely to never pass a level of skill that hovers between "competent" and "mediocre." This is why I avoid multiplayer games for the most part, but it unfortunately also applies to single-player games. I find myself competing with games for high scores or achievements, and I get frustrated when I can't get them. At that point, I just have to walk away.

Yeah, I'm alright with losing a game too -- for games like L4D or TF2 if I'm losing, I simply reorganize my goals for the game into something more manageable. For L4D or TF2, working toward murdering and picking on one of the better players often becomes my goal -- that or just trying a bunch of different things out and making the game my mad scientist lab.

f*ck ego. Dive in and get your ass kicked for a while. It's what Socrates would want you to do.

BlackSheep wrote:
Yeah, I'm alright with losing a game too -- for games like L4D or TF2 if I'm losing, I simply reorganize my goals for the game into something more manageable. For L4D or TF2, working toward murdering and picking on one of the better players often becomes my goal -- that or just trying a bunch of different things out and making the game my mad scientist lab.
Oh yeah, that's another thing that keeps me going when I'm losing, spite. When you have someone who is clearly better than you in every way at a game *cough*Crinkle*cough* sometimes it's worth losing just to make their life more annoying.

I know how you feel, though perhaps not to the same extent. I've admittedly never played with you, but I have to suspect that your perception of your own incompetence is a bit amplified.

Endgame WoW is, of course, an obvious refuge. Once you meet the initial requirement of not being a complete and total imbecile, success is heavily dependent simply on having exceptionally large numbers on your character sheet.

Furthermore, not only can you select the game's difficulty level by deciding which content you'd like to approach, you can even define your own relative value to your team. Tired of being Joe Average DPS in your high end raiding guild? No problem at all - drop down a tier to a less advanced guild, and suddenly you're big man on campus.

I suspect that WoW as it exists today is meticulously crafted to harness the desire that you (and I, and countless others) have to excel, and it gives us a tangled web of systems that enable every single player to feel, on some level, completely awesome.

This is in sharp contrast to a game like L4D, where your individual contribution is a full 1/4 of the team effort (not a mere 1/10 or 1/25), where you do not have a character sheet full of statistics that extend your margin of error, where on the higher difficulty levels even a minor misstep has the potential to lead all of your teammates to their doom.

True, it's co-op, in the sense that you're all on the same team. But there's a fine line in this game between underperforming (but still useful) ally and boat anchor.

Elysium that sure was a lot of words for "I'm old and you young rascals beating the tar out of me makes me angry".

It's what I do.

Even worse for me is the fact that the programmers feel the need to make the AI copy this behavior.

The AI isn't as smart as a human opponent and I can still beat it. But crank it up to hard, and inevitably it "cheats" on resources and time and cranks out an army of tanks or heavy soldiers. Command and Conquer 3 was a good example of this - no matter what I set the enemy AI to on the skirmish maps it always used the same strategy - pick one unit that isn't quite top of the line, but is above average, and build a million of them before the human even has his tower defenses up.

To defeat it I always had to do my own rush. In the end I quit because I hated my options - either play the game exactly the way they want me to, or crank down the difficulty until we're back to the "park in our own base until the human bombs us" days of AI. Sigh.

I know what you mean in your OP Sean, and it's nothing to do with age. Competitive play is fine for me, so long as I'm winning! Much of it is that one of the reasons I play games is to enjoy a moderately challenging task in a controlled environment that I can actually complete, unlike real life. When my fantasy-escape hobby of the simple joys of actually completing stuff turns into a perpetual reminder that, just like in real-life, there's a crap-ton of people way better than me at stuff that will beat me to the post every time even though I've played the damn game a million times over....well, that kinda turns me off!

OK what is going on with the monkey? Is someone violating him is this why he has that expression?

It's interesting that TF2 is brought up so many times considering when it was first released, people made a big deal about how easy it was to jump in. Maybe that was true at launch, but not so much anymore.

That's one thing I have really tried to foster in my communities, an acceptance of fun over excellence. Min/Maxing, while terribly entertaining for those who get involved, tends to degrade the ability for new blood to step in, and lights a fuse for the death of the activity. Personally, I maintain a relative distance to the mechanics of any game, preferring instead to experience them as a feeling rather than as a complex math equation.

So yeah... if you want to play some L4D with other people who are having fun without trying to dominate every square inch of the game, lemme know. The Control Point TF2 servers are also pretty good for silly playfulness. You're not alone.

It's all a mind-set. I'm pretty competitive and will get plenty pissy when I lose. For example, I play TF2 to have fun and when I'm not, when the competitiveness gets to be too much, I walk away. I go into that game with a different mind-set. It's not about first place, it's about blowing people up. Same thing with L4D.
This is why I like coop games so much, it lowers the competition bar. If you transfer the need for you to win to the need for the team to win, then it's much more fun. Besides, if the team wins, obviously you carried the team. If the team loses, it was those other incompetent f*ckers that cost you a victory.

That was a very interesting read since I was like that about a month ago. I've always been gaming ever since I was able to clumsily get up on a stool and play pac-man on an arcade machine. The problem is that I'm also a very competitive person in whatever I do to push myself to get better. Mix that with an explosive personality and a very bad work day before a lan party wasn't a very good idea ...

My gaming friends had a talk with me to help me to just let go. Being at the top of the leaderboard, get that one little meaningless achievement in TF2 or just miss that ultra setup that could have won the match in Street Fighter IV isn't all that important. Yes it hurts my puny ego but throwing a tantrum isn't a very good way to react.

If I was able to deal with it I'm sure you would be able to let it go. Sure I lose myself sometimes to sneaky spys that like to sap my beautiful machines in TF2 but a friendly pyro comes by soon after and soothe the pain. You shouldn't boycott some wonderful games just because you can't compete in it. I've read an interesting quote lately that pretty much sums up what I'm thinking :

"Rage is like holding a hot coal in your hand ready to throw it but the only one that is hurt is you."

Nightmare wrote:
If you transfer the need for you to win to the need for the team to win, then it's much more fun. Besides, if the team wins, obviously you carried the team. If the team loses, it was those other incompetent f*ckers that cost you a victory. :)

This works for team-based competitive games too! I've found some great ways to blame the rest of my team for a loss even if I was unequivocally the worst performer:

1) They took all the good weapons and didn't know how to use them

2) They stole my kills, making my stats artificially deflated

3) Alternatively, stats don't matter... I was playing an important strategic role and those guys were just in it for the points

4) They're not using voice chat to coordinate... the best strategy is to rush point X and they all went to point Y, leaving me to get slaughtered

And so forth.

Even if it's clearly denial, it's a good way to preserve your sanity in pub matches.

sour grape infused foie gras soaked in a lovely duck jus, etc

Mmm... that makes me hungry...

EDIT: Do you think this desire to be ahead of the skill curve goes part of the way toward explaining why you fellas tear through new releases faster than a pack of powdered donuts?