Cooperatively Competitive

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I know it's frowned upon in the fighting game community at large, but I almost always give second round if I'm just absolutely crushing my opponent. It's hard to hold back sometimes, knowing that I could end the fight in under 20 seconds in a game of SF4, but I don't want my opponent to want to bail. It's hard for me to get my friends to want to play fighting games as-is, but totally wrecking them while offering them little opportunity to even throw a punch seems like the wrong way to try to get them to want to play more often, so I'll throw rounds and matches from time to time to try and coax a bit of the fighting spirit out of them.

It seems to be working. I've found that they're a lot more receptive to playing now than they were a couple months ago.

Tempest13:
I guess it makes me a little weird but I enjoy the competition. ... 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.

It's not weird at all. Competition can be a lot of fun. It's not about getting rid of it, or making everyone use "safety scissors," or anything like that.

And it's not about dividing things up by genre, either. It's not about what we play, just about how. It's possible to play fighting games without every single match being a knock-down, drag-out, no-holds-barred affair. Sometimes (I'd even say most times) it's about making sure that one person's Winning doesn't become more important than everyone's Fun.

KingsGambit:
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.

It's so common to run into that, too. You've basically got two personality types in these situations -- the group-minded, less competitive personality (like mine, and apparently yours), and the individual-minded, more competitive personality (like your friend's). Neither personality should rule the other. There should be a balance.

It just so happens that the more competitive personality is also the more aggressive, so it's the one that's more likely to impose itself upon others. Not to say it's bad or has no place, just has a bit more potential for problems.

Bonemeal:
It seems to be working. I've found that they're a lot more receptive to playing now than they were a couple months ago.

I love hearing stories like yours! I'm curious, though -- do you feel doing this has changed your enjoyment of the game? Specifically, do you enjoy it less, more, or the same? I'm usually the person on the other side of this, and I like getting insight from people on yours...

Dastardly:

Bonemeal:
It seems to be working. I've found that they're a lot more receptive to playing now than they were a couple months ago.

I love hearing stories like yours! I'm curious, though -- do you feel doing this has changed your enjoyment of the game? Specifically, do you enjoy it less, more, or the same? I'm usually the person on the other side of this, and I like getting insight from people on yours...

As for me, I'm having more fun now than ever. Being able to share fighting games with my friends was always a kind of far-off dream for years. I don't mind loosening up for a bit and letting my buddies get a few rounds or games over on me, because that's what motivates them to keep playing, and I CERTAINLY don't mind assisting my friends when they want to spend 15 or 30 minutes in training mode trying to figure out a combo or technique that's just out of reach. It's lowering the barrier of entry so that the idea of trying to control this strange character in a foreign genre doesn't seem so intimidating.

When possible, I'm glad to volunteer my advice and give encouragement. To give a really, really, really basic example, one of my friends--the one with the least fighting game experience by far--could not consistently pull off a double quarter-circle motion to save his life. Obviously, if I'm just looking out for number one, this would be awesome for me. One less tool for him to use to try and dig a win. As he was trying to get it to come out, I noticed that the way he was holding the stick was similar to how I used to back when I first started, and back then I had the same problem. I showed him the grip I've since started using, and as soon as he tried it out, it was like someone flipped a switch. Dude's execution for his Supers and Ultras jumped by an order of magnitude in seconds. Sure, for a high-level player, that's kid's stuff, but I remember when I first started with fighting games when I was just a little kid, and how just being able to make my character bust out a fancy 20-hit combo while I looked on were some of the most satisfying seconds in gaming. At 25 years old, my friend had the exact same moment.

And here's one thing I DIDN'T expect to come of it: after going easy for a couple of rounds and letting the rounds stay close--even losing a few--when I come back at them at 100%, I find that they've suddenly gotten BETTER. No doubt that a lot of that can be attributed to just getting warm on the fightstick, but when they win a few rounds and start to taste success, they're emboldened to try new tactics, take risks that they might not have otherwise taken, and generally approach every fight with a degree of thoughtfulness and consideration that they wouldn't have otherwise even bothered with if they had just gotten stomped into oblivion for the thirtieth consecutive round. Success begets success, and that has as much to do with technical proficiency as it does the motivation to do what it takes to maintain that positive momentum.

Bonemeal:
snip

I think what you've really hit on is a problem that a lot of very competitive people notice, and the solution to that very problem.

The very competitive player often worries that, if we make games more accessible to less competitive (and less experienced) players, they're going to have a shortage of challenging games and opponents. What they don't realize is that's like a farmer worrying that if he keeps filling his fields with these stupid "seeds," he's not going to have any room for corn.

Interesting article. I wrote a counter to it on Nightmare Mode...
http://nightmaremode.net/2012/05/feedback-loop-playing-to-win-18586/

"Playing, Campbell suggests, should be about "how we play without always letting it be why [we play]." But isn't how we play determined by why we play? When we play for a reason it affects how we go about playing. People play videogames to win adoration; to win fellowship; to win within the game's rules; etc. So, if playing to win within the rules of the game, how we play becomes more aggressive. If playing to win, say, the enjoyment of company, how we play becomes less aggressive, but only in the traditional sense. Why we play leads into how we play, and becomes the basis for playing. Where Campbell's subjectivity hits its stride is his assertion that people playing to win the game take the fun away for everyone else. Can't the same be said about people playing for simple amusement?"

Johnny Kilhefner:
Interesting article. I wrote a counter to it on Nightmare Mode...
http://nightmaremode.net/2012/05/feedback-loop-playing-to-win-18586/

"Playing, Campbell suggests, should be about "how we play without always letting it be why [we play]." But isn't how we play determined by why we play? When we play for a reason it affects how we go about playing. People play videogames to win adoration; to win fellowship; to win within the game's rules; etc. So, if playing to win within the rules of the game, how we play becomes more aggressive. If playing to win, say, the enjoyment of company, how we play becomes less aggressive, but only in the traditional sense. Why we play leads into how we play, and becomes the basis for playing. Where Campbell's subjectivity hits its stride is his assertion that people playing to win the game take the fun away for everyone else. Can't the same be said about people playing for simple amusement?"

Thanks for letting me know! I've given your article a read, and I've provided a response in your comment section. We'll go ahead and keep the discussion going there, if that's okay with you!

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