Monday, January 29, 2018

My Own Loser Path

"If you're a Sym main, please exit the stream," was the description yesterday of one of the Overwatch Twitch streams I follow. Well, used to follow. The struggle is real, Dear Reader. She is the most hated character, and, because she is my favorite, by default this makes me an outsider in the competitive ranked community.

If one were to examine my career profile in OW, they'd say that I wasn't a Symmetra main. They'd look at all my hours on Lucio and Zenyatta and optimistically inform me that I'm not actually a Sym main, by hours played. The very fact I play other heroes would be my salvation. What they wouldn't know is, I only play those other heroes typically when I'm tired of eating shit for playing Sym. And I eat shit so often as Sym I end up spending majority time on non-Sym heroes. All so I can be good at this fucking videogame. How crazy is that?

"Play what you want, play what's fun to you, play what you're good at." These are the typical lines of reassurance. And in a non-competitive game, that would be the end of it. But in ranked competitive play, there are different factors at work. In ranked, winning is supposed to be what you want to do. Winning is supposed to be what's fun. Winning is supposed to be what you're good at. And if the team needs you to play a certain class of hero to win, then that's what you're supposed to play. Not what's fun; what's necessary. 

This is a problem I consistently run into in competitive games. In a lot of ways, I consider competitive gaming a creatively-bankrupt activity. You find what works, you do it; no room for anything unusual or different, no strategies that haven't already been used a thousand times before by players better than I; no room for style. You win the way the meta has learned is most effective, or you lose and are mocked for being different. It's the worst parts of society, condensed into game form. When I say the entire human experience can be seen in a 10-minute Overwatch match, this is part of it. Not necessarily a part I like, but, hey, I don't like all parts of society, either.

And so once again, I find myself in a position where I often have to choose between, say, being the team's only healer or being Symmetra. That's not my problem, of course...unless I want to win. If I don't choose a healer, when we get shredded by the enemy team, it'll be "Why do we have a Symmetra when we need a healer?" And in that moment, I have three options: switch, tell him to go fuck himself, or turn off comms. If you've been reading for a minute, you probably know which I choose. And that certainly spares my feelings, but it ignores the overall issue. And, unfortunately, that asshole is probably right.

Where I've finally come to on the issue is, quite simply, I'd rather play as Sym and lose than as non-Sym and win. That's not always the case...particularly when I'm on a long losing streak...but it's usually true. This more or less directly conflicts with the Path to Git Gud. I'm no longer interested in being good (if I ever was); I'm interested in playing the game the way I want to play it. And if that means losing, then I guess I'm a loser, and if that means never being pro, then I shall be ever the amateur.

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My Own Loser Path

"If you're a Sym main, please exit the stream," was the description yesterday of one of the Overwatch Twitch streams I follow....