I’m Not Competitive

I’m Not Competitive

I’m not competitive. At least that’s what I have to keep telling myself, then do whatever it takes to avoid placing myself into competitive scenarios.

By nature, I tend toward wanting to be competitive when there’s a score being kept or metrics being measured. Every time that happens, I notice my fun plummets into oblivion. Whether it’s seeing who has the highest damage on the meters, the best gear, the best loot, the best design, etc., etc., I have to avoid it.

When competition kicks in, I stop playing the game and I start playing the numbers. When I start playing the numbers, I get burned out/frustrated/bored and I quit. There are so many examples that I could go through, and each of these ruin(ed) my fun. Here are a few:

Keeping score in FPS games
People notoriously look at k/d ratios or even just overall kills. Games like Call of Duty and Overwatch track these and make people hyper competitive. Even among friends it’s all about how many kills you get. I would rather focus on “did we win?” If the answer is yes, then we won as a team.

But it’s never good enough. It goes back to personal performance rather than team performance. That ruins my fun because despite trying or wanting to focus on the team, I feel forced to look at my own performance.

Topping DPS Charts or Parses
This one aggravates me to no end, and it’s a big reason I often get discouraged with WoW. It’s not unique to my current guild or raiding experience, so if you’re reading this and you’re wondering if I’m talking about you then the answers is yes and no. This has existed for a decade.

Let’s say we kill a boss. That’s awesome. I feel on top of the world. Then we look at DPS charts and parses and it’s a big display of “I got 95% percentile” and “oh you only got 10th percentile.” Or it’s an on-going live competition to see who can top the DPS charts. Sad thing is there will always be a last place. This is one of those situations where captain Picard would tell you, “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.”

Having the Best of Something
This one is broad and applicable to so many games. I’ve even had it happen with friends in Minecraft. “How many diamonds do you have? 20? Oh man I have like 50 you must be doing something wrong.” Yes, that actually happened. I suddenly feel the need to get more diamonds. I shouldn’t but I do.

And in MMORPGs it’s designed into the game to get people to want to compare themselves to each other. It’s a mechanism used to keep people playing more. “I have to get better than Joe! I have to get a better loot drop!” I have friends — you know who you are — who thrive on being the one in the lead of everything. If I compare myself to these people, I feel unjustifiably inadequate. It shouldn’t bother me, but it starts to.

Being Expected to Always Win
This is one that kills my enjoyment in games like DOTA and even FPS games. It’s the idea that we always have to win and be perfect. You didn’t capitalize on every opportunity you had to win? How dare you! You suck! Quit the game! Quit life! You’re a loser! That’s the TAME side of how competitive people get in games like Overwatch, DOTA, and League. I understand that to some people their idea of having fun means they need to win, but their right to fun ends where mine begins, and treating people like crap isn’t acceptable. So I often avoid those games (unless feeling up to the task) to avoid those types of people.

I’m NOT the Best

I have to distance myself from the competition and focus on the game. Did we kill the boss? Yes. Was it easy? Yes. Did I top the parses or charts? No. Did that ultimately matter? Not at all. I still had a REALLY good time killing that boss. Therefore I should not feel as though I want or need to compete with others on how well I did personally.

In FPS games I can play as a sniper and not have the k/d ratio of someone running around with a SMG. They’ll advance faster up the ranks. They’ll unlock more guns that I may never, ever see. Did I enjoy playing a sniper? Yes. Would I enjoy playing a run-and-gun SMG spammer? No. Therefore, it shouldn’t matter. I had fun playing the game.

Telling myself I’m not the best helps. Realizing I never will be is pretty easy. Being okay with that, and not trying to be is the challenge.

It’s a constant struggle for me, and one I will always deal with. It’s personal, and it influences how much or little I enjoy the games I play.

What type of gamer am I? One who MUST avoid competition for the sake of my own enjoyment.

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  • I’m sorry Keen, I know I am the worst at this. I do it without even thinking about it, and the worst thing is that it is such a huge driver to how I have to play games even if I don’t enjoy playing the game that way.

    I find myself setting goals and targets within games, beating a high score, getting “x” or accomplishing “y”. My single worst attribute is that I set myself up for failure. I put myself in competition with someone else, and I find myself with moving goal posts. I get burned out if I fail, and if I win even if it is a hard fought victory to maintain my lead I have to keep preforming X/Y/Z… which I probably don’t find fun anymore at this point.

    The worst for me is when I pit my competitive nature up against someone who has more time and better resources. I set myself up to fail when I try to compete against someone with no life who lives for the game, who has friends in the top guilds that gets showered loot.

    Again, I’m sorry it’s in my nature and I can’t help it, just understand I don’t intend any malice.

    • You and I are actually very much alike. That’s pretty much how I feel, yet I try to fight it. I think the only difference between us is that you’re stating you do it on purpose. I do it because I slip into it, but I try soooo hard not to.

      And I never, ever take any offense to your style. You’re more passive about it, and that should in no way be your problem that I can’t keep up when playing with you.

      From my perspective, I set myself up for failure when I compare myself to you. You’re the one with more time, resources, and no life. 😉 That’s not YOUR fault. That’s my problem. Ironically, in this situation you ended up quitting WoW and I continued and had fun — but it’s a constant struggle for me because there are lots of people who are just like you. In our current guild I am constantly feeling inferior. Krig starts a Paladin and in 2 weeks drastically outperforms me. I played a DPS and never kept up. Yet those things shouldn’t matter. We beat bosses. We met our goals.

      P.S. This wasn’t aimed at you. It does conveniently match up with our recent WoW experience, though.

      • I think it goes to my nature. I’m very competitive. Physically I’ve never been able to compete in sports. I don’t have the strength, dexterity, or constitution to run a race or win a trophy but I can play games. I’d say I don’t do it purposefully I’d much rather enjoy a game that I don’t have to worry about being the best at, but its something I can’t help. It is a drive to get more kills or earn more gold or do more damage (or take less damage). I’m always wanting to compare how I do with others. I think that is one reason why I like Overwatch’s medals so much. When I teach a board game I find it easier to just relax and not feel compelled to compete.

  • I think you might be competitive Keen, you’re just not comfortable with it.
    I’m very much not competitive myself, as in I’m fine with losing as long as I get to taste victory every once in a while, I don’t chase gear treadmills and I don’t care how well I do on dps meters. I’m fine with being average.
    Regardless of this fact I’m actually drawn to competitive games, like wow pvp, team based shooters etc, I just prefer to play against other human beings rather than ai.
    But even more so I’m drawn to sharing such competitive experiences with friends over voip and having a laugh while doing so. Tricky part is finding people who are likeminded, that will gladly keep playing with you even though you are just barely carrying your own weight ^^

    • Yeah, the implication from the beginning of the post is that I have to keep telling myself I’m not, but I KNOW that I am. I get sucked into it. I have WAY more fun when I focus on the game itself and not the competition.

  • I used to be competitive.

    Then I got old and mellowed out. Or more like, I decided that I didn’t like what competition did to me and the atmosphere in which I played games and made a conscious decision to be less or non-competitive and/or avoid games where competition is rampant.

    Bottom line, I reached the top (of one tiny little mountain in one tiny little game) and found out that winning wasn’t everything nor the only thing.

    I hated that I started viewing -everybody- in a hostile manner, as a threat-rival-competitor to my throne. I had less and less friends, considering those who couldn’t perform as unimportant or irrelevant to my needs, was even brusque to those who made the cut but somehow “slowed me down” in a particular competition, and was a righteous obsessive terror when a younger upstart did manage to dethrone me through the passage of time.

    I gave myself stress and stressed everyone else out around me. Eventually my eyes opened as to what I was really doing to myself and my relationships.

    These days, seeing others act like how I used to makes me sad, and want to avoid the situation/game altogether so that I don’t get sucked back into the madness.

    I do however recommend actually winning as a cure for those that can’t let go of the competition bug. Like most things, the striving for is oftentimes more fun and interesting than the actual goal attainment. Once you get it, you find out it’s not what you thought it was going to be, and can move on… just try not to burn all your bridges in the process. :/

  • Being competitive can definitely be a good thing. It pushes you to get better. Especially if you can find a player to accurately compare yourself to. Or find a way to compare to yourself over time.

    But what you are mostly talking about is people making context free comparisons to other people in a team setting. And it often appears to function either as stroking their own ego, or tearing someone else down, with no willingness to put it into context. Its even worse when your team leaders engage in this. Its all “You suck! I’m #1 LOSERS!”. And it downplays, as you mentioned, the team successes.

    Accepting you aren’t (and may never be) as good as another player is not a bad thing. But finding room for improvement is not bad either. And helping other players improve instead of taunting them is even better.

    I remember comparing my raiding mage to another mage in the same raids on Warcraftlogs.com. Since he never rubbed his consistent superior performance in my face, I admired his skill and we spent time trying to understand what I needed to do better. As best as we could tell he was just better at raid awareness and had better casting uptime.

    Unfortunately finding that kind of teamwork in current games is harder than you would think.

  • You probably are competitive but you hate losing so you just bow out before it begins. I may have that in me too.

    • @Sanz: I don’t mind losing. Really. For me it’s all about having fun. The act of competition doesn’t ruin my fun. It’s when the entire experience revolves entirely around competing and the individual vs. the team.

      My philosophy is win or lose, all that matters is whether or not it was fun.

  • I saw Cyprus make a comment in the discord, and I peeped in to see what he was talking about. I feel I have to respond to this one because my guild’s discord name is “DPS Culture”, which is a reference to a old Kripparian video on toxic selfish behaviors that raiders engage in to overinflate their numbers on the meters– humorous satire of course.

    I think in life there are very few things with objective measures of performance. That is agonizingly frustrating for me.

    Academics are judged by how many journal articles they publish. But in order to publish, you have to cater to what is popular among your colleagues. If you have a different idea or paradigm, you must suppress it in order to be “successful”.

    Businesses are judged by how much money and profit they can bring in. But is that truly a great measure? Considering that if a business decides to engage in questionable or exploitative practices, that can also lead to more profits.

    And what is the measure for politicians? The popularity contest is so twisted and contorted by propaganda and spin that it is possible to have a truly great lawmaker go unrecognized and even be hated. Your view on who the greatest leaders are of course shaped by your own politics– not any objective measure.

    Even in the gaming world, how do we judge how good a game is? The industry simply goes off sales. Which is part of the reason why lots of triple A games are so lacking in game design. A game designer can have terrible judgement, yet he or she can make the case to the executives that they are a great designer simply because the game sold many copies. Sadly, this happens way too often in triple A companies, where the brand of the franchise and the awesome work by artists and programmers cover up bad fundamental design.

    This is why many find relief in the world of sports and gaming. There is a clear winner in these situations at the end of the day. There is also a loser. There are objective goals, and most importantly, there is a score. Not just a qualitative property (win vs lose), but a quantitative one. Measurement is the foundation of all progress… whether it is a personal journey or scientific advancement. A weightlifter doesn’t just go to the gym, push the barbell up and go home. They keep track of the number of sets and reps they do and strive to improve that number.

    Which is why the damage meter is so important for most in my guild. In the presence of the meters, we respect each other. In games where there isn’t a great measure of performance (e.g. League of Legends), we end up arguing with each other on what was the correct decision in what situation. And these arguments are brutal and divisive because ultimately there is no final arbiter.

    There are of course many dangers to living by the meters. The toxic Kripparian video where we got our name serves as a reminder on everything that can go wrong if you throw out your humanity and make numbers your God. Strangers can use K/D ratios and dps meters to put you down, insult, or demean. And that’s never fun.

    The biggest thing I had to learn was to be humble. In our Pandaria raiding days…everybody lost to Maxxa and Expositor (my officer at the time) in the damage meters. And we lost horribly. But we were fortunate that both of them are very good people deep down. While a stranger will use meters against you, a good guildie will use them to help you improve. Expositor even made an infamous and long post on our guild website on how to optimize DPS in WoW. It was filled with his usual My Little Pony memes and everything. Overtime everyone got better, and the gap got smaller.

    And as someone who had to accept that I wasn’t as a good as them, and ended up growing myself I have to say that it felt damn good at the end. The sense of accomplishment was overwhelming.

    The second thing I had to learn was that objective measures do not have to be one-dimensional. We have to realize that there are some things that we naturally are better at than others, and some things in which we are worse. It would be very hard for me to be able to beat Pony at Osu, or playing mid at League of Legends. But at the same time, there is a small chance of him beating me in strategy games like Civ or Stellaris. WoW has many different methods of deliverying damage. I did horrible as boomkin and feral on Enfo in WoW. I’m not good at shadow priest dps. But that’s OK, because there are so many different classes I end up finding a spec that I can be decent at, no matter what the expansion.

    That’s why you hear me commenting alot on Pony playing elemental shaman. I never seen him play casters effectively. He has confidence in it, and I tease him on it, but in a friendly competitive sort of way. I would never sabatoge the effort to prove my point, but if it turns out I am wrong, I would be very plesantly surprised, commend him, and admit that I got owned.

    Finally, Wowprogress was a huge deal for us. I heard that site floated in your discord conversations here and there, but that’s another indicator of our drive for competition. We were constantly comparing us against our rival guild. We started off not even being able to form 10 people, and were at the bottom rank on our server. When we finished, we were the 2nd top guild on the server in terms of progression.

    At the end of the day, I feel we are all competitive creatures. That’s why we game. We can say we are social creatures as well, and that may be true, but that is not mutually exclusive with competitiveness.