Cooperatively Competitive

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Cooperatively Competitive

Too much competition and not enough cooperation takes the fun out of gaming

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great articled really enjoyed it, sometimes it happens when me and my brother play fighting games, when one keeps losing, it starts to get frustrating and tedious, even for the one who is winning (sometimes me sometimes him)because the experience gets less and less enjoyable, then we realize we should be having fun and take it all on poor zombies in left 4 dead ^^

To be fair this has been rumbling under the surface since the Wii kicked is detractors in the head and went onto be the leading console in the race for going in 3 years. The more shrude out there also came to comment on how many games were being played in browser or how 'casual games' like peggle were taking over the lives of housewives everywhere. Last year was the time when gthe denial became impossible to maintain for many.

The 'hardcore' aspect of competative games (and its somethimes ugly consequences) are a symptom of a certain type of game design philosophy that at it's very worst is uncomfortably tightly monopolised by males. The berating of a female player and the lack of apology afterwards of certain fighting game personallity was a painful reminder of this.

Co-operation is best personifed at the moment by journey. The game is designed to stip all cometative mechanics out of the system and offer us, well, a emotional journey with another player.

Great article. My one complaint is with your definition of competition. It's not about one has and another has not. It's about determining who uses the resources best, and thereby benefits everyone. Also, the idea of a resource being so limited only one person or one group can control it doesn't have a real world counterpart. There is no such resource.

My issue with competitive-ness is simply that a gamer will use an exploit to persevere rather than concentrate on a good match. As an example, with Street Figher X Tekken, there is this terible thing where certain characters are almost completely invincible with a crouch and jab. it got ridiculous, so I literally stopped playing the MP because of it. Too bad, it had such potential for me since I loved the living hell out of 2D fighters. It's this same type of thing that made me hater Tatsunoko vs Capcom. The whole concept of an easier input mode ruins the competition in the game.

I am also first and foremost about having a good match. Many times I did not press the advantage in things and I lost because of it, but as you said, it's no fun knowing you can win after a few moves. Even in a losing state such as that, both players knew you could have won very easily. But an easy match is not fun.

This competitive mindset has all but ruined the Left 4 Dead 2 community. A few months ago, one could join a versus game and just relax and have fun. Now, though, it seems like a few groups of tournament-tier players have basically cleared everyone else out.

I've always considered myself an average player (something my ~50% win-loss ratio would support), not a master at the game, but not particularly bad, either. Unfortunately, the playerbase has reached the point where I simply can't get a good versus game. Most of the time, I get my butt handed to me by people who clearly play the game for hours a day. If the game is on sale, I might get lucky and run into a team of newbies who don't really know what they're doing. But it's becoming increasingly rare to join a game where I have a good challenge, but still a good chance.

The blame for this goes mostly to the aggressive, competitive players. They are so good as to make the game frustrating for anyone who doesn't also practice on their level. And by deliberately pubstomping, by deliberately going out of their way to team up with other competitive players and against average players, they've created an environment akin to if professional sports teams regularly challenged high school students at their sport of choice.

Not that I blame them for being good. But the need to win at all costs, even if it means actively looking for people to play against that you know you'll outclass, isn't that different from playground bullying. And even though I've used Left 4 Dead 2 as an example, I've seen this problem in any number of games. It's downright saddening.

I think perhaps the best the solution to this is for games to have better matchmaking systems. Left 4 Dead 2's matchmaking system is really basic and not very good: it sticks you into the first available server for the map and mode you choose. Campaign mode offers the option of sticking you at an appropriate difficulty for your skill level, but this is not helpful in Versus. Matchmaking systems seem to be gaining popularity, and I really hope that they become more sophisticated and more widely used in the industry over time.

P.S. Thanks

Baresark:
Great article. My one complaint is with your definition of competition. It's not about one has and another has not. It's about determining who uses the resources best, and thereby benefits everyone. Also, the idea of a resource being so limited only one person or one group can control it doesn't have a real world counterpart. There is no such resource.

That's certainly a fair criticism, and I agree... to an extent. Take two lions, fighting over territory -- in the end, one lion wins, the other lion leaves. I'm talking competition at its most basic here. Now, as you rightly mentioned, it's hard to find an example of something that is absolutely ruled by competition in this way, but we don't really get to the meat of the problem by staying in the middle all the time.

The water company in my town doesn't control the whole world's water supply, but they basically control mine. If I want my bath to run, my toilets to flush, and my dishwasher to live up to its name, I'd better pay them. Granted, I could move... or buy gallons of water at the store... or collect rainwater... but the fact that I would have to do these insanely inconvenient things is just further proof that they've got more control than I do. Awkward example, but I think it demonstrates my point.

My issue with competitive-ness is simply that a gamer will use an exploit to persevere rather than concentrate on a good match. ... The whole concept of an easier input mode ruins the competition in the game.

That's a huge problem, and it's exactly that kind of thing I'm talking about. When the focus is on the win and not the game, the competition bleeds from the game into the meta-game. Put simply, instead of the characters fighting, now the players are, and usually it ends with one player having more fun at the other player's expense.

And hey, there's a time and place for that, there really is! It's just this type of mentality is naturally inclined to spread and consume beyond its due, so it needs a more watchful eye to keep it in check.

Covarr:
Not that I blame them for being good. But the need to win at all costs, even if it means actively looking for people to play against that you know you'll outclass, isn't that different from playground bullying. And even though I've used Left 4 Dead 2 as an example, I've seen this problem in any number of games. It's downright saddening.

Slam dunk, right there. I see it with my younger students all the time (especially the smart ones). They place so much weight on being "A Winner" or "The Smartest," that the title begins to mean more than the concept behind it. Over time, they shy away from greater challenges, choosing instead to stay "King of the Kiddie Pool." Even worse, they'll find ways to cheat or skirt around challenges, because it's more important to keep the title of "Best" than it is to improve.

Why was I reminded of LoL after reading this?

Interesting thing is, some people just love being trolls. AKA "I just pwned you noob, lol/roflcopter"

That was a good read. However, the idea of competition, one person winning, one losing is essentially the basis of all sport, a mega industry which gaming could learn from. It's not always the players who may enjoy it the most. Youtube has allowed gamers to upload their own skills and achievements, and is gaining millions of viewers.

Maybe you could introduce me to that MTG gal ;)

AdamxD:
That was a good read. However, the idea of competition, one person winning, one losing is essentially the basis of all sport, a mega industry which gaming could learn from. It's not always the players who may enjoy it the most. Youtube has allowed gamers to upload their own skills and achievements, and is gaining millions of viewers.

Maybe you could introduce me to that MTG gal ;)

I can agree with what you're saying about sports. It's important to remember, though, that "play" existed before "sport" did -- sports (and similar competitions) are just one type of play. And y'know what, I'm going to go ahead and say it's not even the best.

Sure, audiences get into sports, and it's an experience that goes beyond just the players themselves, but look at all the work that goes into making sure professional sports have interesting games. Not as many people tune in to watch one team utterly stomp the other, and they don't talk about games like that for quite as long.

To me, a clearer example comes not from what we enjoy in sports, but from what we enjoy in stories. Play is, in a sense, cooperatively writing a story, after all (even if that story is "We tossed around a ball, and then I won"). We like epic battles, on-the-ropes victories, we love a photo finish... things that generally don't happen in real competitive situations.

Let's say your team wins the Super Bowl by one point -- would you say, "Aw, c'mon, if they were only going to win by one point, why not just play a one-point game?" Of course not. That's not the point. The result is nice, but it's not why we watch. We watch to see the story unfold, and the story is just better with an even match-up.

In real life, especially gaming with friends, you can't always get a truly even match-up... so where's the harm in playing things a little less cutthroat, and making sure we're winning a good game?

(and, Alas!, MTG girl is married. Competition strikes again!)

Competition is a many headed beast in regards to mp. Most will be heavily competitive, with only some options to co-op and make it less competitive and away from the vein of I kill you, you try to kill me. On competition taking away fun, we have all felt it. When others are better than you at a game, and you get pummeled. Now if you are good at a game, and can win pretty easily, this can also take away your fun. Superiority can make us horrible people, as we feel the urge to mock beginners, or those just a tad worse than us, who we just happened to get by a fluke or lucky shot/stab/throw and now we try to prove our superiority.

So competition in gaming can be a bad thing, it can drive us away from games we know and love, and it can drive us away from learning a game further.

Baresark:
Great article. My one complaint is with your definition of competition. It's not about one has and another has not. It's about determining who uses the resources best, and thereby benefits everyone. Also, the idea of a resource being so limited only one person or one group can control it doesn't have a real world counterpart. There is no such resource.

My issue with competitive-ness is simply that a gamer will use an exploit to persevere rather than concentrate on a good match. As an example, with Street Figher X Tekken, there is this terible thing where certain characters are almost completely invincible with a crouch and jab. it got ridiculous, so I literally stopped playing the MP because of it. Too bad, it had such potential for me since I loved the living hell out of 2D fighters. It's this same type of thing that made me hater Tatsunoko vs Capcom. The whole concept of an easier input mode ruins the competition in the game.

I am also first and foremost about having a good match. Many times I did not press the advantage in things and I lost because of it, but as you said, it's no fun knowing you can win after a few moves. Even in a losing state such as that, both players knew you could have won very easily. But an easy match is not fun.

Actually, there is such a resource. Hell, ALL resources in the real world are limited. Why do you think we have wars? And as Fallout notes: War never changes. It's always about limited resources.

Games are simulations of microcosms of real life, distilled to a "pure" essence of cooperation and competition.

I can't think of any game people play for fun that ISN'T competitive and about resource acquisition/denial. Want a list of popular kids games? Tag, Hide'n'Seek, Red Rover, Cops and Robbers, and all sorts of competitive board games, from Monopoly to Don't Break the Ice.

All those games that we play are competitive at their core, even the cooperative ones. So, I'm afraid this article is trying to make a point that doesn't really exist.

Scow2:
All those games that we play are competitive at their core, even the cooperative ones. So, I'm afraid this article is trying to make a point that doesn't really exist.

Actually, you're just restating my point -- I'm not saying we have to seek out purely cooperative games (but make no mistake, those exist), but rather that we need to work some cooperative spirit into our competitive games.

It can be as simple as a group of kids playing tag, and it's clear that one of the kids is tall enough to climb a tree and the others aren't, and all of the kids (the tall one included) agree that the tree is off-limits. Is there any reason, in the game's rules, that the tall kid shouldn't be able to use that natural advantage? Nope. But the group might agree to it so the game can remain fun.

As to entirely cooperative gaming, do you honestly believe there's no such thing?

None of you have even touched upon competitive gaming until you play Starcraft 2.

Yep, i agree with every bit of this. I'ld go to the extreme that competition ruins gameplay. I got SUPER competitive in League of Legends and what started out as a lot of fun nearly ruined some friendships over the game. Since then i've nearly stoped playing multiplayer games and when i do play it just isn't as fun as bot games, well crafted story modes, or open world fun.

To adress the guy above me. Yep played starcraft 2 as well and it had the same problem. I almost couldnt get into it at all because people didnt even play the game. They ran through a script of "do this, this, then this, and win."

Scow2:

All those games that we play are competitive at their core, even the cooperative ones. So, I'm afraid this article is trying to make a point that doesn't really exist.

I think the point is that we focus too much on winning the game, rather than enjoying it; we allow the competitive possibilities to outweigh all others.

As for cooperative games, how about Journey? I don't think it's even possible to 'win' against the person you're playing with; you both win together. But Journey is somewhat unique in it's approach; I think that the author wants to foster an environment that is more Settlers of Catan than Monopoly. He wants a place where you can play against each other without trying to destroy one another; where you can enjoy the experience of playing and remember the great moments, rather than focus on winning and forget all else.

Your points about resource acquisition and denial are true, and using skillful play to gain resources while denying them to opponents is at the heart of games; however, fun doesn't have to be such a resource.

Elsewhere, I noted that part of my definition of a really good game is one I enjoy even when I lose. There are plenty of games- some I have to admit are actually rather good, at least on a technical level- that I feel irritated with even when I win.

The card game Dominion is a good example. I quite enjoy the game, in part because I can observe everyone's strategy and maybe come to some likely conclusions about who will win, but the actual outcome is often in doubt until the final point-count. And then I can muse about why a particular strategy was successful with the other players, or why another might have worked in a different context.

The exception to my enjoyment of the game is when Dominion is played like Magic- when the "deck" chosen has a particular design, a particular one or two paths to winning in mind which not all players might be clear on. It becomes, much like the author says, more about competition than play, a race to see who understands the riddle of the deck's design first (assuming the person who chose it doesn't know to begin with.) Much less question of victory, much less experimentation, much less fun.

Why do I get the feeling the writer has been watching my friends and I on LoL. The community on there seems to be almost purely in each match for the win, and it definitely pulls everyone into that mentality. Everyone celebrates when a match is won by someone on the other team trolling/lagging out, but then go into rage when a match is well fought by both sides and is lost after a long fight.

Good article. I am reminded of how cutthroat the fighting game community can be. Go to any Youtube fighting game vid and see how many flame wars you can find.

I'm nothing if not competitive at my fighters. I don't want the other person to hold back so I can go without holding back too. The thing, however, is that I don't mind losing if we both gave it our all and we both stood a reasonable (if not equal) chance of winning. That is fun for me. A game that challenges me and brings out the best that I can be.

I don't like fighting newbies, especially now that we can't freely pick our characters before the match in BlazBlue. Before, I would pick my main if the other player was equal to or better than me. If the other player was much less skilled, then would pick a character I was less familiar with. That was my handicap and it made me try harder in order to get a win.
Nowadays, you determine the character you will use even before you begin matchmaking. If I'm in a mood to use my main and get caught with a string of newbies, then I'm forced to hold back since I feel bad about using my biggest attacks on someone who clearly isn't ready for it. I don't like holding back for long periods of time since it takes me a while to get back into gear when I have to play for real. I don't like demolishing newbies because I know how tough the genre is to new players just by itself. I think constantly holding back nowadays might be hurting my play. When I really have to go at it, I can't do it properly because I've been using inefficient playstyles for so long. It kinda sucks.

There's two kinds of serious gaming, in my opinion. The first kind is the one with which we are familiar that tends to drive all the fun out of the game: the hyper-competitive, "winning equals life, losing equals death" type of serious where too much weight is placed on the meritocracy of winning (this is an attitude in which no mistake is tolerated). Under this kind of serious gaming, the gamer is focused on being the VIP or superstar of the game that carried the team to victory, and he desires this to be the case every single time. It's entirely focused on achieving bragging rights for having the most points, kills, highest score, or whatever.

The second kind is more about maintaining focused attention on the game, being aware of the situational changes in the game, and adapting to those changes. You still play to win, but you are more focused on the nature of simply playing the game properly and to the best of your ability rather than the meritocracy of winning or losing. Under this kind of serious gaming, you are focused on understanding what the key objectives are, what actions are most important to execute, and learning to set aside distractions (such as chasing kills) that pull you away from the primary objective or targets. It's about being able to read the flow of battle and adapt accordingly. Also, under this kind of serious gaming, you are more focused on actual teamwork rather than trying to be the singular superstar that carries the entire team to success (it's always interesting to watch an American Dream-Team olympic basketball team get drilled by some random foreign team using nothing but basic 101 tactics and teamwork. The reason the American team would lose is because the players are too concerned with show-boating and competing for who does the most work to carry the team). You focus on what your specific task is, and you do it, even if you are stuck at a flag or point doing boring guard-duty to keep some stealth character from ninja'ing it. The fact you stay and guard that point could make the difference between being able to win or lose (I can't tell you how many times I used to see a team lose Arathi Basin in WoW because no one wanted to stay and guard the flag). Under this kind of serious gaming, you let winning and losing take care of itself, and you just focus on playing the game.

As I see it, the basic problem is that winning and losing, for many gamers, has become the metric by which they measure the worth and value of the person. Their own sense of self-worth, self-esteem, and value in themselves as a person is being too much predicated on their ability to achieve a high win/loss ratio, most points, most kills, highest score, etc. This entire attitude of being "pro" is an unreasonable expectation that everyone should be able to play at the same level and skill as the top 5% of players (an obvious contradiction of possibility). So, they stop focusing on the playing and instead focus on just the numbers.

I don't know if any of that makes any sense. I rattled this off stream-of-conscious-like, so it may not be entirely consistent.

I just skimmed through it and it's good for explaining MOBAs in general.

Btw, the capcha was: don't stop

This is pretty much why I stop playing some games; especially tourney fighter games. Once the Douchbags move in, the game is pretty much over for me. Take for example my recent rediscovery of SSFIV. After U/MvC3 got overrun by the Douchebag players, I decided to start preparing for SFxTK. I did this by picking up SSFIV again, since they're built off similar engines.

Turns out that, like me, a lot of the people who play SSFIV appreciate the more methodical, strategy based, catch-as-catch-can gameplay that the pure SF series still uses and emphasizes. So, not only did I get in some good practice that had me in goo standing for STxTK, I actually enjoyed my time playing SF again. The people tended to be a lot more sportsman-like, and a lot less time spent busting out 50-70 hit combos where I could literally put down my controller and not made one bit of difference.

Now, don't get me wrong. I enjoy U/MvC3. It's a good game, and I've had some fine matches with it. But there comes a point where you can boot up the game and be a pointless punching bag so many times before you just don't care anymore.

THANK YOU for this incredibly insightful article. I've tried to explain to my friends why I don't enjoy aggressive competitive play but it never seemed to take. I hadn't even thought of using Princess Bride as an example. Which is more fun to watch, over and over, between the two fights? There's a clear answer; killing Rugen was kind of a necessary thing rather than something fun like the rest of the movie.

Thinking about it, my favourite gaming moments have been co-operative experiences with friends, while my worst have been purposefully caused by some dick overseas who was getting their aggressive in my fun.

Can you imagine what kind of movie would include the Man in Black teabagging the unconscious Inigo and insulting his mother? Ugggghlk.

Dastardly:

(and, Alas!, MTG girl is married. Competition strikes again!)

You're right. Competition might just be a bad thing!

With online gaming though, I find I'm not challenging other people, I'm challenging myself. To try and get more kills than the last game and to score more goals. I find it a personal competition sometimes, and I'm not trying to take other peoples fun.
However, I'm a real sucker for a fantastic co-op game. I think that's why I found Halo so much better than the CoD series. I could get 3 of my best mates and save the planet, rather than save the planet single handedly. One of my favourite moments was completing Annual on H3.

Superb article! I have a very competitive girlfriend who I live with, and we recently got the Small World board game. She got the app and practiced and practiced whilst I was out, and now our matches are won by less then 10 points each time. It is gratifying to be so closely tied to someone, and to share strategies after, and to appreciate their skill. I think she just wants to win all the time, but if we ever play a video game or sport then I normally win!

On the other hand I also have a SC2 friend who is super-competitive, and ruins the games for the whole team when he throws a hissy fit because we're not listening to him, or doing what he says, or just losing. Everyone then sinks to his level and becomes mardy and frustrated at losses. Why are negative emotions so contagious?

Turtleboy1017:
None of you have even touched upon competitive gaming until you play Starcraft 2.

Or, you know, any number of other games.

All those games that we play are competitive at their core, even the cooperative ones.

I like playing games that are not competitive. They certainly exist. Not everything needs to be about competition - this single minded focus you are displaying is a major problem in gaming in general, in my opinion.

When my younger brother and I play games together, they are almost exclusively co-operative, or at least more co-op than they are competitive. LittleBigPlanet is our most played by far, but we'll get into anything that lets us both work together. Only time we play against each other is in racing games, where he thoroughly destroys me.

Turtleboy1017:
None of you have even touched upon competitive gaming until you play Starcraft 2.

Smash Bros community represent.
Bish.

Thunderous Cacophony:

Scow2:

All those games that we play are competitive at their core, even the cooperative ones. So, I'm afraid this article is trying to make a point that doesn't really exist.

I think the point is that we focus too much on winning the game, rather than enjoying it; we allow the competitive possibilities to outweigh all others.

As for cooperative games, how about Journey? I don't think it's even possible to 'win' against the person you're playing with; you both win together. But Journey is somewhat unique in it's approach; I think that the author wants to foster an environment that is more Settlers of Catan than Monopoly. He wants a place where you can play against each other without trying to destroy one another; where you can enjoy the experience of playing and remember the great moments, rather than focus on winning and forget all else.

Your points about resource acquisition and denial are true, and using skillful play to gain resources while denying them to opponents is at the heart of games; however, fun doesn't have to be such a resource.

Okay... so I was wrong about cooperative games being competitive. I don't even know why I said that wallbang-worthy phrase.

However, Settlers of Catan can be VERY cutthroat-competitive: Would you trade your Wood for Sheep because while you need the Sheep, the other guy would be able to win the game or cut your expansion off with the Wood?

It's true that it's not about winning or losing, but how you play the game. On the other hand, you play to win the game.

geizr:
There's two kinds of serious gaming, in my opinion...

Sorry for the snip, I liked your points. I think one of the problems in getting others to understand what you're saying is that we've allowed the scoreboard to become our only measuring stick.

Some people are very serious about winning, whatever the cost. Others are very serious about playing well, even if they lose while doing it. But too many people would jump to the immediate conclusion that, if the guy's losing, he's not "playing well," right?

Others are more concerned with having "a good game." But because the hyper-competitive believe "good game" means "game I won," they assume other players must think the same way... meaning the only reason you're complaining about it must be that you're just a sore loser or something.

It's the nature of things. More aggressively competitive people will tend to be the sort of people that assume everyone thinks the way they do (or at least they should), so it's harder to communicate this kind of thing.

Et3rnalLegend64:
... I don't like holding back for long periods of time since it takes me a while to get back into gear when I have to play for real. I don't like demolishing newbies because I know how tough the genre is to new players just by itself. I think constantly holding back nowadays might be hurting my play. When I really have to go at it, I can't do it properly because I've been using inefficient playstyles for so long. It kinda sucks.

And this is really one of the hardest things about it. To those players that can completely demolish other players, not getting the chance to do so is like caging a tiger. It can be frustrating to constantly have to hold back, especially because the competitive part of our nature so aggressively craves expression.

Moderation is the key, I guess. Sometimes, it's cool to play a few "fair" games, and then say, "Hey guys, mind if I go all out on this one?" Of course, you can't really do that in randomized multiplayer. We can always find other ways to practice.

If I know the map way better than you, I can probably sneak around and plug you without a care in the world. And sure, it'll feel good to win and show off my expertise, and y'know what? Once in awhile it's okay. Other times, I don't necessarily have to hold back my skills, but rather just hold back my kills -- I can sneak up, tag you for half your health, taunt you over voice chat (in a playful way), and then disappear. I proved I could have killed you, but let you keep playing for awhile instead.

(And then on the next match-up, I can bring out the nukes.)

I had started thinking about Magic before you had even mentioned it. So many of my husband's friends play their games that way, many of them being long time players, with back catalogues of cards they've bought since they were kids. They're always going to have better decks, better cards, etc. I'll never be able to compete with them, so I don't want to play with them. A bit defeatist, maybe, but it might explain my aversion to combat games like Mortal Kombat, too.

Anyone remember in Super Mario Bros. 3, how there was the mini-game level you could play with player 2, and it was usually a race to get the most enemies killed, or most coins? My cousins and I played that level for hours, giggling endlessly, not racing each other to 'win' by the mini-game's parameters, but instead playing tag within the level until one of us died.

And you know? THAT was the most fun I've ever had with a video game, for the past 20 years. What changed since then? Play style? Did the games themselves change?

Skarlette:
I had started thinking about Magic before you had even mentioned it. So many of my husband's friends play their games that way, many of them being long time players, with back catalogues of cards they've bought since they were kids. They're always going to have better decks, better cards, etc. I'll never be able to compete with them, so I don't want to play with them. A bit defeatist, maybe, but it might explain my aversion to combat games like Mortal Kombat, too.

Actually, situations like this explain the rise of formats like "Commander" in MTG. It was originally supposed to be a way for people to put a deck together out of whatever they had lying around, de-emphasizing combos and such. Of course, it didn't take long for people to start "gaming the format," and buying cards to construct uber-decks...

Anyone remember in Super Mario Bros. 3, how there was the mini-game level you could play with player 2, and it was usually a race to get the most enemies killed, or most coins? My cousins and I played that level for hours, giggling endlessly, not racing each other to 'win' by the mini-game's parameters, but instead playing tag within the level until one of us died.

And you know? THAT was the most fun I've ever had with a video game, for the past 20 years. What changed since then? Play style? Did the games themselves change?

The biggest change? People looking at that kind of play and asking, "What's the point?" Often, the people asking that are the over-competitive folks that need scores and wins and losses to enjoy a game. And while they were asking that, those of us that love "pointless" play were too busy enjoying it. We didn't speak up.

Nice article. I think it's worth mentioning that in the long term it is usually competitively beneficial to "play" for some matches to improve your abilities. If you let the opponent catch their breath, you are only giving yourself more struggle and training. If you mess around trying new things (as opposed to going all out and following that competitive "script"), you'll learn more about the constraints of the game, and might pick up a new trick or two.

I guess it makes me a little weird but I enjoy the competition. Most of us who play fighting games like Street Fighter and King of Fighters etc. take proving who's the best seriously, but we never stop wanting to hang out with each other and help each other out. I'm always driven to do better for myself, but at the same time I'm helping them by giving them the matches they deserve and making it more fun for them. Winning and losing can be a part of the fun, but exciting and well played matches brings out the best in my community. For other people who don't want to engage in this competitive field they're free to enjoy games casually or as a spectator sport (which is awesome btw), but for me playing and being competitive is enough for me to not be put off by losing badly.

That is what gaming is for me when I play with friends. I still enjoy crazy games like Dokapon kingdom and such, but I get the most enjoyment out of playing fighting games and the emotions that come with conflict. Oh and I like RPGs but that's not the point.

Very interesting article, putting something so simple into a well considered and delivered argument. This is obviously applicable to games but also to sports. I have a friend with whom I used to enjoy playing badminton once in a while. However, while I enjoyed the "playing" part, he enjoyed the "beating" me part. While I would look forward to rallies he would actively seek to end them with overhead smashes, lobs and the usual left-right trickery. I don't enjoy spending so much time picking up shuttlecocks, and the result is now we don't play really (though I didn't actually say anything).

With games, I'm with the author and enjoy playing with friends "co-op competitively" (second to outright co-op". I enjoy out-foxing them and in turn being out-foxed and will gladly (and silently) hold back if I have too large an advantage. The fun for me is in the playing and having fun with friends, not the beating of them. Never been particularly competitive.

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