Not Gaming Competitively? You’re Doing It Wrong
Every month in Play Magazine, we take a hot topic and look at the arguments for and against. The subject of debate this time is competitive gaming. We start with Play and Retro Gamer’s Drew Sleep arguing that competitive gaming is the future. Next week, we’ll have the response from Retro Gamer’s Nick Thorpe.
Have you ever felt like you were too good at a single-player videogame? Like, I’m talking playing a game to death so much that you’ve truly mastered the gameplay, that the AI is basically a cornflake underneath your mighty boot and that you can’t really get much else out of the experience anymore? We’ve all been there, right? It’s melancholic, to say the least.
Thing is, with single-player stuff, there’s always a limit to your skill. Sure, you can master Meat Boy but are you really ever going to outsmart every human being playing Call Of Duty? Of course you’re not. This is the main appeal behind competitive games – they effectively never end. You’re always climbing that ladder towards perfection. Every now and then, a rung collapses and you experience your own pathetic gaming mortality, but you’ll still continue your ascent to greatness.
As I’ve said in these fine pages before, I was a pretty die-hard League Of Legends player, and I was good. Not amazing, but I could carry the burden of a pathetic team solely on my back to victory. In those moments, I was a deity among you mere mortals. On the other hand, I’d get my ADC ass handed to me in equal measure by someone better than me – if anything, those moments were better than my moments of victory. ‘How the hell did that happen?’ I’d ask myself, slumped in my chair. ‘Okay, what can I do to stop that happening? What can I learn from this?’ And that’s addictive. With competitive gaming, you’re always learning and if there’s a ranking system involved, you’re a slave to your desire to the climb to the next tier. It’s a slippery slope of addiction but, trust me folks, it’s a fun and rewarding one.
Competitive gaming has been around on PC for yonks, but now it’s fully hit consoles, thanks to the PS4. Our Designer, Liam, a man who I never thought would care about this kind of stuff was saying that he’s trying really hard to hit Silver II on Rocket League. I wanted to curl a wicked smile and utter the words, ‘Silver scrub…’ But I didn’t. ‘Good for you!’ I said. I’m genuinely excited to see this phenomenon appear on consoles, because it’s such a crucial element of videogaming – and it’s fun!
Now I’m going to throw a disclaimer out there: it’s fun most of the time. You need to be in a specific mindset to enjoy competitive gaming properly – you need to play not to win but to improve. Not a lot of people embrace that philosophy and play purely to win because they think they’re a professional player – you’ll spot these idiots because it’s never, ever their fault and they have a massive insecurity complex. I’m sure you’ve experienced how toxic it can get out there. It’s horrible. But the best thing to do with that sub-human level of behavior is just to ignore it. It’s hard, I know, but just treat them like you would an episode of Coronation Street – you know, ignore the hell out of it. Do that, and you’re golden.
Let’s touch on the topping of this lovely cake: eSports. Did you know LOL was broadcast on BBC Three early last year? It’s getting big and PS4 is the vanguard of console eSports. Stay tuned for the forthcoming leagues and get involved, folks. But, until then, practice away.