Friday, December 29, 2017

Discipline Daddy

Overwatch ranked play is broken into seasons that are several weeks long. There's a short (about two days) off season between. Season 7 just ended yesterday. Season 8 begins in two days. In the meantime, I'm playing Overwatch unranked.

It's interesting to me how the secret sauce that makes Overwatch so compelling to me is the competition. It's clear to me when I play the game unranked. I enjoy it, still, but my passion for it downgrades from quasi-obsession to normal "playing a fun videogame" status. I think it goes to what I said in yesterday's entry, about how a game is at its best when all players are trying their best to win. That is not the case in most unranked games; in any given game, I'd say at least half the players are "non-comps," players who enjoy the gameplay but aren't trying to be competitive, either because they don't want the pressure, or they lack the dedication or skill. 

I don't blame people for not wanting the pressure. That's where I normally am, too. We are always so quick to talk about the glory of victory, but we don't talk much about how dark a loss can get. It can be quite the opposite of reaffirming when you enter a match, play your damndest, and still come up short. This is especially crushing when you suspect/know your teammates don't share your dedication. 

I can follow the depression in me when a loss looms. I can feel how it can originate from the game, and I can feel it spreading to other parts of my brain. "Why can't someone shoot down that Pharah?" turns into "Why are my teammates idiots?" to "Society is garbage," to "I just want to go back to bed." I think this is natural in all people, competitors or not, but I think it's especially pronounced in those who suffer from depression, like myself. Those dark thoughts are more potent, easier to reproduce, and spread faster, I believe, than someone who isn't depressed.

It's taken me years, and I'm not 100% at it, but the most effective tool I've learned at dealing with this is to focus. I've never been one to espouse the virtues of discipline, but I absolutely see its worth now. When the thoughts start spiraling out of control, when "I hate Junkrat" turns into "I don't think I have what it takes to be a pro Overwatch player," I try to rally that discipline within me. There is no Junkrat, I'll tell myself. There is no pro Overwatch. There is only the situation right in front of you. Focus on the situation right in front of you. 

The tricky part is doing it when I'm distracted in a good way. Coming off of a decisive victory, feeling every bit the champion gladiator I want to be. On top of the world. Then, I gotta bring the discipline in. After I let myself linger in that glow for just a minute, daddy discipline has to talk me down. There is no victory, it'll tell me. There is no dominance. There is only the next match, the next moment, the next firefight. Letting the good shit stain my brain will lead to hubris, which will make the inevitable loss all the more devastating, making it that much easier for the depression to bite back.

This is yet another reason why I love Overwatch. In the contemplations of win versus loss, I learn new things about myself. Develop new skills to use in the arena, which I can bring with me for the rest of my life. That's how I know doing this, even if I come up short and never play in the League, will still be a worthy endeavor for me.

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