The pressure to be good at games ruins my ability to enjoy them

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Video games are designed to be a lot of things – they can evoke fear in horror titles, push your problem-solving skills with puzzles, and build a team spirit between you and your close friends. It’s easy to see why gambling has become such a popular pastime, growing with each decade since their appearance in the 1950s, but something that most games have in common is that they are designed to be. fun … so why logging into a public gaming lobby fills me with such a sense of dread?

It hasn’t always been that way. I will say right off the bat that this article is not complaining that video games are too difficult, but rather that, like many others, I have changed as a person since my early years of gaming. There is a feeling nostalgia that I feel like I’ve tried to capture in the last few years of my life, and I doubt I’m alone. It’s basically a grudging acceptance that I’m an adult.

Multiplayer video games are among the most popular genres these days, having come a long way since titles like Quake hit the scene. I was born in 1993, a little too young to understand how Quake helped pioneer arena shooters, but I fondly remember my own transition from couch co-op to online multiplayer thanks to Halo. 3 on the Xbox 360. I oddly love those memories, but they introduced me to the world of online trolls and general toxicity within the gaming community that I had never been exposed to before.

I have never been good at multiplayer games. That’s not to say I don’t understand how fun they are, other industries like sports are built on an “us versus them” nature and enjoying the competition is healthy. But it’s important to feel like you’re part of your team, and in competitive online gaming communities it’s easy to feel unwelcome.

Noob’s anxiety is a hindrance

A woman playing a flight simulation game on her gaming PC

(Image credit: Shutterstock / WeAre)

Online games have a glaring problem with toxic gamers, many of whom are happy to call you too sweet if you complain about being subjected to trolls in gaming lobbies with comments that vary from taunts on the pitch. of gambling, up to threats of violence and intense. , targeted harassment campaigns. This can be especially prevalent if you are a female recognizable via chat on the microphone or if you have a female game ID.

A survey of 900 female gamers from Reach3 Insights and Lenovo found that 59% of women hide their gender when playing online games to avoid harassment and that 77% of women surveyed said they had experienced discrimination on the basis of about sex online.

I find it hard to feel like I’m contributing to the stereotype that ‘girls can’t play games’, and the alternative is to grit my teeth and endure the harassment on the voice chat out of spite, or just… to stop playing competitive online games.

Regardless of your gender, you’ve probably come across a situation in a game where bad sap is the target of abuse because it’s a new player learning the ropes and playing badly, but there is has a strange expectation for new players to voluntarily submit to this behavior of other players in order to master the mechanics, learn skills, and ultimately feel welcome.

That must be what is happening because how else would these hugely popular games like Fortnite or Apex Legends have such a large player base? Exposing myself to that environment and the behavior that comes with it doesn’t appeal to me anymore, but it has value for many other “bad” players – and that’s okay. I’m not here to wage a one-woman war on gaming communities.

It made me realize that I had to let go of the idea that I had to prove my worth in competitive games, gain the approval of hostile and anonymous strangers who were never going to respect me in the first place. Over the past few years it has been brewing in me that I am not qualified to be part of the wider gaming community as I cannot claim to have a “Diamond” or “Platinum” rank in anything. A more precise and deserved rank for my skills would be “Aluminum”.

Be a busy bee

A stressed woman surrounded by her worries

(Image credit: Shutterstock / New Africa)

It’s not just this twisted feeling of anxiety that keeps me from spending several hours a week training to become a beast in League of Legends (despite my best efforts) – my humble vanity is that I have to many other hobbies and commitments which make precious free time available to me.

I love tabletop role-playing games, 3D printing and miniature painting, digital illustration and a bunch of other time consuming things that make my life richer. Finding a balance to include all of these hobbies in my week is a challenge, and trying to improve my gaming skills would require me to sacrifice something else that I enjoy in order to seek validation that I don’t have. not really need.

Getting older doesn’t mean you can’t play games anymore, but like every year that goes by, the less time I have to spend doing the things I love, so you need to start choosing your activities wisely.

Despite what some people might think, my job does not involve playing games on my computer from 9 am to 5 pm to “test” PC gaming hardware, and like many adults, I have a series. commitments that need attention the minute I log out. There are dogs to walk, errands to run, food to cook, and things to clean in a seemingly endless cycle. Over the past 12 months, I’ve managed to get around four hours of play per week, and despite that, I still consider myself a “gamer”.

The memories I have of playing Halo 3 for four to six hours a day are far from me and unless something drastic enough changes my life in the future I will never have the time available for it. improving my skills in genres like MOBAs or Battle Royal is enough to feel comfortable playing them.

I’m grateful that single-player titles continue to thrive, giving me an environment to have fun without having to worry about the impact of my performance on other players. Geralt doesn’t care how many times I miscalculate a dodge in Witcher 3, and the DOOM guy is happy to let me take as many hits as I need to fight the Legions of Hell.

Learning to let go of this expectation to be great with every game I play has been a challenge, but I’m on the right track, and I doubt I will walk alone. If you are in a mental space similar to where I was, always remember that gambling is meant to be fun. If you’re not having fun, do whatever it takes to regain that joy and please don’t be too hard on yourself.

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