The Big Three
Competition has always brought out both the best and worst in participants. From the helpful savant who just wants to see other people succeed to the unhinged amateurs who want to watch everyone around them burn in a pixelated fire, Esports spawn an ocean of emotions that flood players and leave them either elated or exasperated. As such, it’s important to control the deluge.
However, most of this emotional deluge is perpetuated by three primary feelings: Anger, excitement, and frustration (yes, it’s different from anger), particularly in the early stages of obtaining the right skills.
Probably the most noticeable of the Big Three is anger. A conflagrating wildfire that sears through every unsuspecting victim of its ire, anger ruins not only the time of those individuals caught in its perpetrators wake, but also the wielder of that fiery sword themselves.
Acrimony clutches a gamer’s lungs and squeezes until its fingertips are touching its palm. The next step is often the beginning of a downward spiral. Ill-conceived accusations get tossed around, blaming everyone and everything for any adverse outcome to the given situation. “SMURF!” or “YOU GUYS ALL SUCK!!!!” are often the ominous declarations of the angry player. These spiteful utterances are based not in fact or reality, but in heated disdain for anyone who dares to outplay the accuser.
The Problem with Anger
Anger is a fool’s game. It inevitably results in more inferior rather than improved gameplay. Taking out one’s fury on strangers isn’t going to solve anything. If one’s distempered emotions cause someone to get banned due to false player reports, what was really accomplished?
If proving one is a superior competitor is the goal, getting the competition banned is the worst way to go about it. As mentioned in another piece, “…everyone on the losing team is part of the problem.”
To help control the deluge, don’t let anger be the reason for absurd, undignified, undeserved retaliations against imaginary slights.
Balancing out anger’s negative impact on everyone involved is excitement. The jittery adrenaline rush that infuses players with the motivation to improve themselves and invest hundreds of hours into their game(s) of choice, excitement is the harbinger of true, entertaining competition.
Seeing players come together to bond over something they all have in common encourages a wealth of personality types to get involved in the gaming community. That enthusiasm is the genesis for molding many gamers into the highly skilled savants viewers love to watch on streams and at tournaments. It’s easier to learn something when one is passionate about it (don’t act like that mundane book assigned in high school English class was the epitome of exhilaration in the pursuit of academic excellence).
It’s when playing video games as a profession, like any other passion, begins to feel like nothing more than a job that people start to waver on their skill improvements. It’s during that waning that the proclivity for anger begins seeping into every moment of play, inking a permanent blot on a formerly enjoyable craft.
Don’t let excitement wither. Let it be the door that opens to reveal the glimmer of light during the dark times of trudging through the negativity. Control the deluge.
Usually the precursor to anger, frustration is a vexing emotion, particularly in Esports. While anger is typically directed at others (teammates, game mechanics, game developers, etc.), frustration is mostly an inward battle. The two are often confused.
Frustration most commonly occurs as a result of ineffective gameplay. Doing everything one believes they can do in order to achieve a positive outcome, but repeatedly falling short, is certainly discouraging.
An emotion that typically festers inside someone, frustration is the core reason people quit playing certain games from a competitive standpoint. It makes them feel inept. Frustration clouds their ability to objectively analyze their gameplay in order to improve it.
When Frustration Builds
Typically, frustration builds at a gradual pace. It begins with small chuckles and scoffing remarks, rising from someone’s gut like a volcano once perceived to be dormant before erupting into full-fledged anger. Frustration is the precursor; anger is the derivative.
Don’t let frustration build. Treat it the same way one should treat everything else: with moderation.
Control the Deluge
Emotions are a fact of life, and a core part of being human. It doesn’t take Yoda to realize that being in control of them will be an easier path to making life better (work smarter, not harder). Frustrated or angry? Put the game down for a while and come back to it later. Eat something, get some exercise, read a book, watch TV or a movie, or do something as simple as taking a shower.
Everyone has different ways of dealing with their negative emotions. So, aside from taking it out on strangers and getting people banned for no legitimate reason (or anything illegal), individuals should do what works best for them. In the end, however, it’s going to require moderation, self-actualization, and dedication to keep one’s emotions in check.
A calm mind is a productive one. Be productive. Control the deluge.4