Zerg Rush

Zerg Rush
Slave to the Overmind

Jack Porter | 6 Apr 2010 12:28
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Some games seemed to drag on forever. No matter how fast I moved, there were always more upgrades to administer, more resources to harvest, more Overlords to spawn. What was once a "game" dissolved into a joyless frenzy of scrolling and clicking. As I realized the game would never end, a sense of dread slowly began to overtake me.

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I played StarCraft so much that my matches continued even while I was asleep. There, they took on a warped, Kafka-esque quality where my opponent knew my every move, Dark Templars lurked behind every corner and the Overmind always required more minerals. These nightmare matches only added to my growing feelings of anxiety and inadequacy. I was no longer playing the game; the game was playing me.

And then it hit me: Those horrible visions were an accurate reflection of my waking life. I had convinced myself that playing StarCraft was enjoyable, even though the experience was consistently draining and nerve-wracking. If I felt this way when I was still a noob, how much more suffering would I have to endure before I could consider myself halfway decent? How many more months (or, at my rate, years) would it take for me to actually be competitive? Would the struggle be worth it?

In the end, I realized that I was playing competitive StarCraft not because I wanted to have fun, but because I craved recognition and acceptance. I wanted to prove myself, to gain a sense of belonging and community. I was using the game as a substitute for an actual social life, and we all know how well that works. And when I finally uninstalled it, I had nothing to show for all my efforts.

So perhaps this is a cautionary tale after all, not to insomniac drivers but would-be competitive gamers. Anyone with aspirations of "pro-player" status should ask themselves the following questions: Why do you want to make it to the top? Does playing the game actually make you happy? And are you prepared to devote years of your life to achieving mastery of a single skill that has no practical value outside of the game? Playing a game competitively requires making a sacrifice. In my case, the sacrifice was very nearly my sanity.

Jack Porter is a media scholar and freelance writer who will move to Los Angeles this Fall to begin his Master's program.

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