Arguably the most frustrating aspect of any player’s gaming life is a series of losses that makes people want to fling their equipment across the room. This disheartening experience is a frequent consequence of queuing solo, as one has little control over the skill level of other players on their team. This is why investing in loss is important.
Regardless, everyone loses eventually—both solo players and teams. As mentioned in a previous piece, “People learn more in defeat than they do in victory as long as they pay attention…” Losing happens, but by investing in loss, one can turn those excruciating matches into opportunities.
How it Works
Investing in loss is a prominent phrase and philosophy within martial arts communities, particularly Tai Chi and Ving Tsun. The idea is to use defeat as a means to educate.
Did the opponent land a hit? How? What could the defender have done differently to either avoid or counter it? Were there multiple solutions?
Even though this idea is prevalent in martial arts, it can be applied to online gaming. A match that is guaranteed to end in loss is the time to practice one’s own skills. Work on aiming, moving, learning maps, and playing with different settings.
If there’s at least one superior player on the enemy team, single them out and see how one’s abilities compares to theirs. See if watching them can reveal any gameplay strategies or techniques that can be implemented into one’s own repertoire.
Losing is difficult to stomach, and goes against an ambitious person’s nature. Loss brings a myriad of negative emotions, unless one knows how to control themselves and play the long game. Be like Darth Sidious in Star Wars—stomach tiny defeats to plant the seeds for an array of brutal victories. Losing breeds future success, provided the player is choosing to get something out of it rather than devolve into a seething frenzy.
Just like an athlete, tradesman, or gamer developing their core skills, investing in loss takes time and practice. Playing the long game requires patience, and an understanding of moderation to weave a tapestry of future ascendancy.
Playing one or two games until losing twice in a row is a decent place to start. During those two aggravating matches, the player can pick one skill to practice in order to get something out of the round. Is the other team going full assault and obliterating one’s allies? Work on survivability. Are there enemy players who are more agile than the rest? Work on aim. Dying more than the rest of one’s team? Work on dodging, using cover, or tactically retreating.
The beginning days of investing in loss are among the most exasperating. However, perseverance is a necessary trait to possess to trek through the grimy sludge of defeat. Down the road, however, those investments will start paying off, and losing will become a rarity, especially if one finds a team that treats their gameplay as passionately as one’s self.
Quitting is the primary reason most players never achieve a high level of skill in their game(s) of choice. The same holds true in most competitive, professional, or even recreational atmospheres. People give up too quickly after becoming a little annoyed or disheartened. So, stick it out. Improvements will be made if the time and effort is applied.
Don’t Play the Blame Game
The blame game is a rabbit hole, and is also completely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Whether or not the rest of one’s team is to blame for a loss (particularly among those who queue solo) has zero effect on the outcome that already occurred.
Even if the rest of a player’s team is performing like a peewee hockey team against NHL superstars, throwing a fit and blaming everyone else is a waste of time. They’re probably not going to listen anyway, and that time would be better spent improving one’s own gameplay.
The harsh truth is that everyone on the losing team is part of the problem, and there’s always something each individual on that team can do to force a better outcome. At the risk of sounding cheesy: Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution… without hostility. Be a teammate, not a powerless dictator.
The goal is simple: Become both an unstoppable force and immovable object. Yes, become an oxymoron. The path to get there will be arduous, it’ll be a tremendously vexatious endeavor, and will absolutely be the cause of gritted teeth and trembling limbs. However, once that journey has been worked for a while, the path will have less debris, and the payoffs from having invested in loss will be colossal.2