[Komidol] Competitive Play vs Casual Play: Why people suck at games. [Orange Farm Archive]

Look at that throwbreak!

So what does it mean to have fun?  I’ll be doing this post in lieu of Oreimo 4 (In honor of our mashing Kuroneko).

In my time I’ve been known to be the “serious” gamer.  You know, that guy in your group of old friends – the guy that none of your friends want to play against because they take games too seriously or get too competitive.  The guy that takes winning “too seriously” and you get salty because he did something “cheap” or something repetitively you didn’t understand in order to win.  He doess’t play for “fun”, he plays to “win”.

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Winning is fun.

Yeah, that guy is having fun using the best character, winning through whatever dumb luck, or being white in chess.  Some people play games, lose constantly, want to win “their way”, and won’t mind losing all day long.  And this is what I want to talk about.  I’ve done some analysis into a similar topic before but I wanted to explain the mindset of the one who has fun “winning” and gets upset at “losing”.

I’m not trying to be a David Sirlin (infact, I had talked about similar theories long before I had even heard of him), but I think I can put this in a way my readership might appreciate more.  So, I’ll be analyzing two different perspectives and insight into winning and losing in both mindsets.  First, the “competitive” player versus the “casual” player.

The casual.

I consider myself a “casual” mahjong player.  I say this because I bet no material gain or loss on each game.  I also say this because the game is about one half luck based, and I don’t consider it to be “good enough” to get too serious about.  Now there are certainly people who disagree with me.  Entire mahjong leagues exist over several countries.  But to me, I am casual because I do not consider the value of the game to be “winning”.   This does not mean I do not aim to win.  The mechanics in mahjong are very detailed.  By analyzing your opponents discard you can discover a large amount of number methods to indicate your opponents waits and.  The “joy” in the game for me is using these methods and the constraints of the rule set in order to compete.  I do not consider myself great nor do I consider myself amazing at the institutions within the game; but I am aware of these numerical methods, methods to trick against them, and the solid rules of the game.  I am aware my opponents will use this method in order to win.  I play the game knowing this, and so will the casual player.      

The competitor.

I consider myself a “competitive” Melty Blood player.  The competitor is someone who validates their skill at a game by how much they win or lose (which the game should allow for).  They may even go as far as to put material backing (or a bet) behind it, making it a “competition”.  They choose to put the time behind the mechanics of the game, extensively review all the mechanics and make new tools around the rules of the game.  Infact, competitors will even abuse those tools if they can in order to win.  The end victor determined who made the most extensive use of the mechanics.  Fighting games in general are pretty apt for competitive play, since there is no to little “luck” factor involved.  It all comes down to player decision and pre-determined hit boxes which you should already be aware of before even playing.  You may argue “Well, if this is true, why doesn’t everyone just play the “best” (top tier) character in every game?”  My answer to this is simple – not every player can utilize those methods effectively with their personal skills.  A good synergy excelling your own personal skills and the character skills to create your best possible median chance to win exists – which is what the competitor wants to do.  While they derive the most enjoyment from winning, winning isn’t everything.  It’s putting the time into, defeating other people who put their dedication forth, analyzing and excelling at all possible methods within the game, and minimizing random factor that make the competitor enjoy the game.  The game allows for combos, there are not “combowhores”.  The game has Neko Arc in it.  You or your opponent can play as Neko Arc.  Perhaps even above the existence and use of mechanics – the #1 thing to understand here is that players in this category must seek to get better after they lose above others doing the same.  When they stop doing this, they are no longer “competitive”.

Why people are bad at games.

This is where it gets tricky.  Even in casual play, like me in mahjong, there are many people who play mahjong gunning for tenpai like a rabid starved dog attacking their prey – across a busy highway.  Whether they win or lose they will push off what happened to luck and never utilize the knowledge or strategies available to them.  In competitive play, some people will aim to win, but constantly blame the game or other people as to why they “lose”.  Rather than acknowledge they are playing the game and people will use all available methods to them to win (not to mention they themselves should be able to use the same methods); they get stubborn and look to win “their way”.

This is absolutely retarded.  If you have a problem with what someone else is doing in a game, than don’t play that game.

This is the assertion of my theoretical overview.  I don’t understand for the life of me why anyone, who was playing a game even casually would choose to suck at said game.  And by that I mean, why they would choose not to use every part of the game.  And furthermore, they will even get angry, make house rules, and try to criticize people for using those mechanics or tools.  That is not okay.  You have to build houses evenly in monopoly.  It’s in the rules.  You can sell your boardwalk and parkplace in exchange for getting your cousin to wash your car next week.  It’s not against the rules.  Even the players are part of the game.  The person you’re sitting next to will probably try to get all the railroads.  They always try to get all the railroads.  You accept all these things when you start playing.

All in all, I’m sure there are some people who will still say even at the end of this “It’s just a game.” or “I don’t have a reason to play competitively.”  or “I don’t care about winning, I just want to have fun.”  Though, hearing these words pains me to no end.  Why?  Because why would you even play the game in the first place if you didn’t care about the result.  Or even moreso, I can understand not having a desire to win – but why did you play in the first place if you didn’t want to utilize all the mechanics and possible tools in the process of game?  Why play a game and not bother learning everything about the game?  What was fun if you just played half a game (and possibly ruined it for everyone else in the process – save the fun of trolling).

I think everyone should step up their casual play to a point where atleast they “know how to play” the games they play.  It doesn’t matter what the game is.  Common methods, all the rules, game mechanics are all something that should be figured out and understood as you learn a game – so you can eventually “play it”.  If you don’t do this, you are not “playing the game”.  This has gotten so much worse in recent years with video games (because anyone can pick up the controls, but not necessairly know what to do).  Even worse when there is no repercussion to losing you can take ridiculous risks (like dealing into a dealers hand constantly in mahjong) while other people are trying to utilize all the game mechanics.  Some people meta-game, while the game objective is to “win” or “do well”.  If you are not abiding by the game objective, you’re not playing by the rules of the game.  So you are not “playing the game” correctly.  I think chess is a great way to demonstrate my main point.

Competitive – Going to tournaments, knowing game scenarios, dedicating years to the game.  Enjoys seeing the fruit of their work end up in constant defeat of other dedicated players.  Works into the number theory and always prepares for options and situations they may find themselves stuck in.

Casual – Knowing all the moves, mechanics, openings, and common patterns in the game.  Enjoys seeing the decision making process and knows all the methods and tools of the game.  Playing people of similar calibur, will have a good game or appreciate the strength of methods better players use if losing.

Just dumb don’t do this competitive – Complain white is stronger and you only lost because you played black.  You knew there was a chance of you playing black, so you should of accepted it.  This is a radical example, but chess is a simple game, after all.

Just dumb don’t do this casual – The worst.  Doesn’t like castling, so he won’t use it, or doesn’t ask/do anything when someone moves their king two spaces (or complains when they do).  Doesn’t bother learning any openings.  Knows how the pieces moves, and expects to enjoy the game when just moving things around.  Surprised/Angry/Absent-Minded when someone else wins, or just “happy” to play, even though they had no idea what was going on.  Or they sat down to play but didn’t try to win, just made dumb moves that weren’t even fun for people trying to play the game, just to fuck around and have their fun playing that game instead of the one the other person was playing.

Maybe I just can’t accept “ignorance is bliss.”

21 Responses to “[Komidol] Competitive Play vs Casual Play: Why people suck at games. [Orange Farm Archive]”

  1. 1 darkslime
    October 29, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    >>“I don’t care about winning, I just want to have fun.” Though, hearing these words pains me to no end. Why? Because why would you even play the game in the first place if you didn’t care about the result.

    You answered your own question. The result – what people want out of games – is to have fun. You can act elitist all you want; it’s not going to change what other people consider fun. ;)

  2. 2 Ssuusshhii
    October 29, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    Why is Komidol talking about competitive play when he sucks so much ass at all the games he plays?

  3. 3 komidol
    October 29, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    These comments disappoint me.

  4. October 29, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    Komi-tan, The Game.


  5. 6 fattierob
    October 29, 2010 at 6:42 PM

    tl;dr version:

    Person a> I’m having fun playing this game
    Person b> I have fun playing is this way. But my way is better because I said so
    Person a> But i’m still having fun playing it my way
    Person b> no you’re not, stop having fun.

  6. 7 komidol
    October 29, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    This is still not the thesis whatsoever. It’s not even close, but I’ll humour your example, fattierob.

    My thesis is something closer to,
    Person A> I’m not having fun, because I’m losing. I don’t want to learn how to win.
    Person A> I’m having fun being a chucklefuck.

    Person A isn’t having fun *playing* the game, their having fun with their meta-game (the “my way” in which some of the game mechanics are either unknown, unused, or unexplored to that person), which is annoying for other players of the game. Person B is hardly complaining, unless they themselves don’t know how to play the game and are frustrated Person A won’t “learn the game”, and instead abuse a mechanic. Nonetheless, this doesn’t matter – if Person A is abusing a game mechanic Person B can’t deal with, Person B should learn how to utilize the game mechanics effectively or not play. Person B’s isn’t better because they “said so”, it’s because theoretically they are aware of more things, attempting to utilize those mechanics, and should win doing so, or lose to an abuse of a certain mechanic they haven’t learned how to deal with yet. If the game is good enough there will be a way to work with, incorporate, and deal with mechanic abuse. If it isn’t, than you’ll have to do the same thing. If you don’t want to do the same thing, than enjoy losing or don’t play.

    I drew a tangent to this example I believe in my post: Imagine you are playing mahjong and someone is constantly looking to deal into other players hands. The other people are playing in order to win the game effectively. Or worse, let’s say this: during the last round you realize it will become very difficult or impossible to win. Henceforth, to mess with the other players you deal into someones hand to “decide” who wins. You are no longer playing for yourself, and the player who loses out worked hard for relatively nothing. This is obviously chucklefuckery, and that person is no longer playing for themselves, they are playing a metagame.

    However, you acknowledge the game does infact give people this power. That is why I said, if there is no cost to losing people will often not see a game out to it’s end, and it can ruin it for the other players.

    But what if you’re playing mahjong for money? Now it doesn’t matter who wins, if you lose, you lose even more money. Competition works off this aspect: if there is a material motivation to play the level of play will increase and you have less people playing their meta-game to troll or whatever they want to do and play the game. This is what most competitive players see in a game – a player is going to give it their all. In fact, even if they don’t want to give it their all, it doesn’t matter to you because you will still win money. (Money being the easiest example of a material to use, this could pretty much be anything from pride or services to actual items)

    Now if you know a player is going to chucklefuck around in the last round of mahjong (without money), or throughout the whole game, why would you sit down to play with them? Is it going to be fun? This is what I mean about stepping up casual play to utilize everything as if there was something on the line, and overall have a better game. You should aspire to play a game to it’s maximum potential. It’s not that the chucklefuckers are having fun playing a game “their way”, it’s that their not even playing the game.

    If you don’t want that, it’s dumb to even play in the first place, which is my point. Infact, you don’t even need an advantage like abusing a system mechanic to be Person A, or be a chucklefuck. You could just be bad, and complain, and get mad at losing. You could be unskilled and boring to play.

    If you don’t care to comment on the thesis and want to make assumptions based on institutions you personally have with me, I may feel it unnecessary to leave short sighted and ignorant comments available publicly. It is fine if you disagree, but please do so in order to contribute to the discussion. If not, you have no reason to comment.

  7. 8 Fattierob
    October 30, 2010 at 2:21 AM

    Okay, i’m contributing this discussion

    Nobody cares what pro players think. Pro players play because they are pro. They get their fun that way.

    People who don’t play pro still enjoy the game, otherwise they wouldn’t be playing it.


    Both sides like to argue that their right and the other side is wrong.



  8. October 30, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    Pro-players? What does being a top player at any game have anything to do with my original post?

    But even if I were to humor what you said (even though I’m hardly arguing “right” or “wrong”), the solution isn’t to stop, the solution is to keep playing.

  9. 10 darkslime
    October 30, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    The solution is to play in moderation and don’t lose yourself. Video games are there to have fun, so go have fun, one way or another. (like if I want to play Melee sitting upside-down, by God I’ll do it)

    You know, like The Force(c). You should use that in moderation or else you’ll succumb to The Dark Side(c).

  10. October 30, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    Both Jedi and Sith still know how the force works, and they know and understand how each opposing side uses their powers. I think the majority of comments are largely losing the focus of what I’m saying; please re-read my post (if you read it in the first place, which I doubt about half of the commenters did, before commenting).

  11. 12 Fattierob
    October 30, 2010 at 4:43 PM

    >read walls of text by Komidol

    Oh you, never change.

  12. 13 desufag
    October 31, 2010 at 9:05 AM

    In my view, yes, winning is a lot of fun, BUT, on the flipside, Winning by large margins is not fun at all. I get a lot more fun out of a challenge. So in a blowout match where its apparent that I will win, I do start dicking around and giving myself handicaps etc. In my local PokeMon tourneys, I’m well known for this. Bring a PokeMon with a gimmick moveset (ie, Metronome, six Lucario matchups, INTIMIDATE, suicides, low acc moves, etc) and just start seeing what kind of random shit you can pull off, and if I need to get serious, there are five other PokeMon for that. However in the serious matches, shit gets real, there’s no goofing off.

    In fighters on the other hand, I only play seriously when it comes to Dead or Alive. Anytime I step into a arcade or a con gaming room, it is the FIRST machine I hit, and I can be there for HOURS, and I wouldn’t say I’m high level player, but I do consider my Kasumi somewhat better than your average DoA player. For everything else, including BlazBlue, which I am a large fan of, I just sit down and go at it, joke with, whoever I’m playing with, and have fun, even if I lose. If I’m losing, I make fun of how I’m getting beat. If I’m winning by large margins, again, gimmicks come into play.

    For matches with the friends, it always goes like this: “Hey, wanna play some Brawl/Blazblue/insert common fighters and other party games here?” “Sure” and then Winner stays matches go on. Rematches are always welcome. Party play.

    For shooters, same thing applies, blowouts are boring, switch to pistols/knives, or snipe, (which I am very bad at) only.
    For RTS/TBS, same thing applies, switch to fun units/tactics (Battlecruisers, turtling push tactics, etc.

    TL;DR, I am a casual, and winning by too much of a margin is fucking boring. Flipside, Losing because of a small margin=learning=fun. But that’s just me.

  13. November 1, 2010 at 12:27 AM

    That’s retarded, Desu. There are always more challenges (especially in a game like BlaBlue). You can’t honestly expect me to accept the mentality that “I’m a casual player because I don’t like winning by a large margin.” If for no other reason there are thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of BB players in the US who I know you would get a challenge from. In a game with a large community like that there are some good damned players, and I even know some off hand just by being competitive at other fighters.

    You can’t tell me you can’t find more competition who can compete at the level you’re at, so if you’re finding other good players you could never simply “win by a large margin”. Furthermore, especially with fighters – rarely is there “one good/great player” who wins all the time – at a certain point in competitive play for any game every player knows all the strategys, tools, and mechanics of the game and it comes down to simple decision making. You will always find a challenge, if you’re willing to look. (Which, for those of you with NAH/Hikki status, can be quite a rewarding social activity from personal experience.)

  14. 15 darkslime
    November 1, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    Your analysis of the four types of gamers makes a lot of sense to me, but what I don’t get is considering your “casual” category, why would casual players need to step up their game? Your definition has them knowing all the mechanics, yet your post is advocating casual players learning the mechanics. Or were you referring to the other two categories? Because I didn’t fall into *any* of these categories when I still played Melty Blood. Maybe you should rethink it.

    On a completely different(but related?) note, I think there is a large difference between being a competitive player and a player that simply enjoys competition that needs to be pointed out. Most people enjoy competition. However, if the person is a competitive player, they seem like they only enjoy competition when playing other competitive players, and hate competition against everyone else because 1) they’re not taking the game seriously enough or 2) don’t care enough to get better and just want to play.

    I’m not going to lie – I enjoy competition. Even when I enter the Brawl tournament at Sudakare, or whatever; I quite clearly don’t know all of the game mechanics, and think some are stupid, and those two things are shared by other players, but guess what? Everyone still ends up having fun. It doesn’t matter what level you’re on; you can talk to someone about a video game you both play and have fun like that.

    While I do admit that what you call “chucklefucking”(the last two categories of people) does get aggravating when you’re trying to play seriously, it is *because I am a non-competitive player* that it doesn’t bother me as much. Because games are, after all, a source of fun for me. I can play Melty and laugh along with the person who continuously uses Neco-Arc’s laser spam to deal at least 3/4 my health bar in damage. They’re being very silly. Whatever. I’ll use Nrvnqsr in the next match and spam jC. I understand, though, that for competitive players, it can be extremely aggravating. But they need to be able to lower their expectations when playing with certain people.

  15. 16 desufag
    November 1, 2010 at 2:02 PM

    I never said there aren’t a lot of players at my level. I just said I don’t like winning by large margins, and then I start to do stupid shit to try and find a fun perspective elsewhere. Basically, if I can get away with it, I’ll try new things in the middle of games, just to see what happens because I find it interesting.

    As for darkslime, when playing with buddies, chucklefucking is what makes it enjoyable between us. I can’t speak for Melty, becuase I’ve never played it until this last Saturday, but when it comes to Starcraft, Age of Empires, DoA, BB, Soul Calibur, and FPS games, we chucklefuck each other all the damn time and laugh about it. I think it comes from knowing the opponent. In serious play (i.e. my DotA league), this never happens unless the match is completely one-sided and then we all decide to turn the opponents into chickens just for the added hilarity before winning or getting our asses kicked.

  16. 17 desufag
    November 1, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    I guess what I’m trying to to say is that my main objective when gaming is how much entertainment value can I obtain? Story definitely plays a huge role, but that’s only a part of it. I have to enjoy the characters, too. As far as multiplayer roles go, winning is fun, but I’m not too fond of it. I have a penchant for liking come-from-behind type wins, and enjoy facing people I have no hope of beating, because through losing, I learn how to counter, how to manuever, and how to play around another’s strengths. For example, Starcraft, which I am utter garbage at, if I face someone better than me, I eventually will get faster and faster simply out of necessity. I’ve already stated that I often do really dumb shit, so I won’t expound on that, however, I also like taking high-risk, all-or-nothing type moves, so I either come out way ahead because of, or lose by large margins. But if anything does get old, I will find ways to make it enjoyable again, either through gimmicks, custom mods, add-ons, or, a personal favorite, perpetual grinding. I <3 Draw.

    So, in short, label me casual, because entertainment comes first.

  17. November 2, 2010 at 4:34 PM

    Kom, I think what you’re not seeing is that you’re essentially asking “casual” gamers to devote enough time to gaming to make winning fun for YOU. That’s a LITTLE out of line. Who are you tell me how to apportion my time?

    True, maybe I’m different because when I lose three times straight without getting a hit in to someone at BlazBlue, I turn the game off and go play something else/watch anime/go climbing, but as far as I can see it, it’s my prerogative to spend my free time how I see fit.

    In most competitive environments or ones where skill is highly valued and biased (think online Go servers), there’s a ladder/challenge system in place to protect “dan-level” players from us lowly “kyus”. I think most of these people are responding to the fact that you walking away from the table was never considered an option. Why can’t you refuse to engage?

    As to meta-gaming, the gaming community as an online and generally anonymous one DOES need a way to enforce some social policing. In the real world, you can walk away, stonewall, or deck someone who’s being a jerk. It’s much harder online, so I can understand a little of where you’re coming from on that angle, but still. Whining about these people does no good whatsoever.

  18. 20 komidol
    November 2, 2010 at 11:15 PM

    I’ve locked comments to this post as I will be making a new discussion post for you guys to continue on with my responses for everyone.

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