Winning, winning is important. You don’t admit it, nor advocate it, but it’s undeniable. Usain Bolt, Serena William’s, Cristiano Ronaldo and Charlie Sheen all understood the importance of winning. Is it any surprise really? We’re conditioned to do so. No one chooses to lose, we merely endure the bitter resentment of loss that is so inelegantly thrust upon us. Usually online its perpetrated by some loathsome teenager with a finite vocabulary, poor diet and hygiene, shrill obnoxious voice and probably surrounded by copious wads of discarded, suspiciously sticky tissues littering their bedroom floors. “It’s not the winning it’s the taking part” is a platitude often expressed as a defiant antithesis to winning, like a mother consoling they’re despondent brood after some abject failure. It’s comforting, using salubrious words to sooth the lacerating trauma of defeat. But you know that despite those words of consolation, on the surface she exudes a conciliation of maternal solidarity, applauding your efforts to finish 4th in the egg and spoon race, deep down she’s secretly thinking “I let you live in my uterus for 9 painful months and this is how you repay me? I should have stopped at none!”.
There’s something inherently pleasing about winning, particularly if mediocrity is a life long affliction. If you’re anything like me you’re never really jostling for position at the top of the leaderboard in Battlefield or Overwatch, but more of a subsidiary accomplice that provides interspersed support to the far more seasoned participants. Deriving pleasure from such meandering pursuits can be dispiriting and is almost always a thankless task of consolidation, and just trying to ensure that you aren’t a debilitating influence on your team. Providing extensive assistance or distraction that allows the stronger representatives in the team to excel is the extent of my contributions, and I’m good at it. But there’s always a need to excel beyond the confines of our adequate skills, to liberate the courageous virtues that propel more prominent elements in the squad to perform with vigorous proficiency. And sometimes, perhaps once a week it’s you that’s leading the charge.
Every decision you make is decisive, swift and devastating. With deft precision you infiltrate a heavily garrisoned resistance, annihilating defences with minimum effort. Emboldened by this sudden capacity for devastating awesomeness you search the area probing for any surplus forces disoriented by your hostility, suppressing formidable opponents actions as they’re left shuddering at your fleet-footed pace and resiliency. Before long you’re executing covert operations with a team that instinctively rally to your unspoken command, regulating enemy behaviour through your own hostile engagements, and narrowly averting the desperate retaliations of enemy advances. Until finally those whimpering assailants are slain, succumbed to the oppressive precepts of your assaults and the final results indicate your individual superiority, linger on-screen for your foes to revere. With rousing pride you declare yourself the undisputed ravager of men and their dominion, basking in the exulted glory of victory and defamation of one’s enemies……before engaging in another round and being soundly beaten by the exact same team you crippled earlier without registering a single solitary kill.
Online gaming has always been competitive. They’re very nature invites conflict that necessities a regimented commitment to participation and growth. Most of us will have neither the time nor the inclination to exclusively commit to one game, at least not with any consistency. The capability to be a progressively conscientious is nullified by a players lack of investment into improving one’s capabilities, accentuated by competitors abundance of committed familiarity. Even if you set aside the time to familiarise yourself with the games intricate nuances or study every map for the perfect vantage points, there’s always going to be someone better than you. Someone with split second reactions who is just marginally swifter in evasion, shooting and surviving than you are. Sometimes winning requires you to make sacrifices, to prioritize your strengths of tactical evasion or distraction, thereby enabling the better players to make those crucial kills. And as satisfying as it is to be admired for being ruthless and at times untouchable, even if it’s on briefly, I gain more enjoyment from heroically intervening a gunfight, deflecting combat away from my teammates, perishing in a hail of bullets as the rest of my team defeats them with only seconds to spare and winning us the game. That’s the kind of inept contribution I like to make: losing the battle, but winning the war.