First Person

First Person
Little League Trained Me for Battlefield 3

Dennis C. Scimeca | 26 Jan 2012 16:00
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My father asked if I wanted to play baseball when I was around five years old. I said yes without really thinking about it and signed up for eight straight years of Little League with my father managing my teams.

I couldn't hit a pitch to save my life, and was only a decent second baseman. I played because I thought my father wanted to share the sport with me, as he'd been a good enough pitcher in college to get scouted by the old Oakland A's. He was so into playing baseball that up until his late 50's my father was pitching in two over-30 men's leagues and regularly striking out batters with his collection of fastballs, sliders and curveballs. Dad recently admitted that he only encouraged me to play Little League for the socialization with the other kids and to learn how to play as a team, and only managed my teams so that I wouldn't have to deal with some of the hyper-competitive assholes that we saw managing other teams during those eight years.

If baseball was my father's sport then team-based first person shooter gaming might be mine. After almost four years of playing FPS games on the Xbox 360 with the same group of guys (heretofore referred to as "my squad"), I'm beginning to realize how many of the lessons my father taught me through Little League are directly applicable to how I interact with my squad.

Sometimes you have to take one for the team.

That aphorism led to standing in the batter's box and allowing myself to get hit with a pitch, or making sure I got low to catch a ground ball even if I knew it very well might hit a rock in the infield, pop up and smack me dead in the face, or laying down a bunt even though I wasn't fast enough to outrun the throw to first base.

My squad tends to favor objective-based matches over deathmatch, so there's plenty of room for strategy, and I'm always the guy who goes for the off-side flag. If our team is defending the A and B flags and we're getting pressed hard by the enemy, I'll pop into a stealth build that keeps me off the enemy's radar, sneak through their lines, and then loudly announce my presence at the C flag, usually with explosives. I die every single time in a matter of minutes, but the enemy has no choice but to send people back there to secure the C flag. And as soon as that happens, my squad knows they have the temporary advantage on the primary line of engagement and can push the other team off balance.

It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game.

Even if you lost the baseball game, you lined up with your team, shook hands with the other team and recognized when and if they played well. Even if that pitcher struck you out five times in a row, you let him know that he did a good job. You didn't argue calls with the umpire like a jackass, and if you talked trash on the field you knew where the line was drawn. Playing a sport was partially about creating a competitive and fair environment for everyone.

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