I have never liked MMOs like Overwatch or other online multiplayer games. Well, that’s not entirely true, I like the games, but I don’t like playing them with other people. If you had asked me why before, I would have said that it was because other people are so irritating and I prefer to play by myself just to get things done, people can be nasty online, etc etc. In recent times though I have discovered that this is not really the reason – yes I still find people online very irritating but it’s not because they’re not getting things done, it’s because they are sometimes better than me. It’s taken me a long time to admit it but I am fiercely, annoyingly, competitive.
This aspect of my personality really annoys me. I came to this realisation when I was playing Mario Kart with some friends (of course it was Mario Kart; a well-known friendship destroyer). This might sound horribly pompous but I am very good at Mario Kart, or that particular version we were playing anyway, and I kept winning. One of my friends playing it with me was getting very annoyed, I don’t blame her as I was gloating and annoying myself but I just couldn’t stop. She is also very competitive and we ended up in a bit of a feud where I stopped playing and just watched instead (just on a side note they all lost to the computer without me playing but that’s neither here nor there).
While I was watching them all lose I had an epiphany; if someone in that group had been better than me then I would have been in one of the worst moods ever, would have rage quit and sulked in the corner. On the other end of the spectrum when I was winning I was acting like a child and making everyone uncomfortable. At that moment I decided not to play any multiplayer games any more, for the good of my dignity and my friendships.
So for a while I would politely refuse to play multiplayer games when offered and managed to avoid it, and then I was introduced to Game Grumps. If you don’t know them then they are Let’s Players who play through games while chatting about everything and anything and they’re very funny too (check out their YouTube channel, I highly recommend them). What I found so weird was that when they play against each other, be it in Kirby’s Dream Course or Mario Party, they are usually happy for the other person when they win, they help each other out and give them tips. The concept of not being a dick when playing with your friends was completely alien to me so I decided to try it out on my then-new boyfriend who was unaware at the time of my competitive, multiplayer issues. We started with something simple, Tricky Towers, a competitive Tetris game. It took a bit of effort but eventually I was just enjoying the game. I felt so good when we stopped playing, it was so nice to be able to enjoy the experience rather than getting stressed out about how well I was playing or trying to protect my “gamer” status. From there I’ve been easing myself more and more into multiplayer games like Starwhal, Borderlands, Little Big Planet, etc and have even got to the point where I will sometimes actually cheer someone on that I’m playing against. Past Me would rather have jumped out the window than do that.
Present me thinks she might know where this mindset comes from though. Having been a gamer my whole life I have met a lot of people who, for some reason, think it’s normal to test me on my gaming knowledge to the point where they will eventually find something I don’t know and gleefully exclaim “You’ve never played that?! You can’t be a real gamer” (people have actually said that to me) or other situations where I have been playing a game I’m not used to. A particular instance of me playing Injustice springs to mind here. I had never played the game before and I am very unused to playing on an Xbox. After I had passed the necessary gaming knowledge test I was allowed to have a go and the person I was playing with wouldn’t tell me how to play on the basis that “if I was a gamer, knowing the controls should come naturally to me”, and then taking the piss when I was inevitably crushed. Some of the bull I have put up with… I don’t know if this is something that all gamers experience or if it is because I am female on top of that but whatever it is made me take everything that bit more personally and feel like I need to prove myself more.
While I think I have made a lot of progress on the competitive attitude front there is still a lot of room for improvement, I am still quite bad when I play something that I know I’m good at but nowhere near the sulky, tyrannical fury that I used to be. I am still hesitant to try an MMO because of this, I feel a lot of pressure to up my game when playing something like Overwatch rather than just run around and enjoy myself but maybe one day I’ll find one I like. Mario Kart is still, and always will be, banned though… Unless someone needs taking down a peg or two.