Feeling like you’re part of a larger community is a natural human instinct. It’s the kind of thing that game devs and gaming companies make their money off of. It’s why MMO fans can be some of the best and worst at the same time. Breaking in to that community, however, feels pretty damn daunting.
This post is spawned by my own want to be a part of fighting games. So I wanted to reflect on my own sensation of feeling outside looking in, and how I’ve tried to manage the feeling of being locked out.
The first thing I wanted to explain is what spawned this idea, which is admittedly completely out of left field. I’m not someone who actively seeks competition or to test my mettle against others in gaming very often, but I was emboldened by watching the videos of one Maximilian Christiansen.
While Mr. Christiansen, aka Maximilian Dood, fits the typical mold of a YouTuber, – loud, expletive-loaded and generally declarative – he also embodies the sorts of wonderful things about a greater community. He truly loves the stuff he does, and that stuff is making videos about, playing, sharing and talking about fighting games. It’s that love and that enthusiasm that really struck me.
While Max considers himself not an expert, or even a middle-tier player in the wider competitive scene, his thirst for self-improvement and hunger to be constantly challenged and learn from losing is something I aspire to, and it’s the missing element that has made fighting games generally elude me.
So, I watch his videos and I support his streams, but I still feel like I’m not ready to try it, even though I desperately want to. I feel like a dog at the edge of a pool watching his favorite toy slowly float away, in a tug-of-war between my want to play and my want to not drown.
Just like my own malaise at playing MMOs, I find that trying something new is mental. In this matter, however, the solution really seems as simple as jumping in and doing it. But calling it “simple” is anything but, particularly when you’ve got myriad concerns and a sense of self-preservation roaring at you not to do it.
“Self-preservation” is really the biggest hurdle for me, and that’s not to infer that playing fighting games will endanger my life so much as expose me to vile individuals and the constant weight of repetitive failure. My record while playing in Atlas Reactor is pretty much middle-shelf or bottom tier. I’ve avoided Competitive Mode in Overwatch because I know I’m a weak link. I hate DPS in XIV because I’m not optimally playing a sub-optimal class in Machinist, but I hate tanking more in XIV because I don’t want to lead anymore.
But then EVE Online comes to mind, and every ounce of that self-preservation worry drains away.
See, I wrote about EVE Online as part of my regular column to see what the game’s free to play conversion was all about. I had to do the piece, despite every ounce of baggage that I carried in with me; memories of a sandbox experience that soured me for a style of MMO for literal years.
Being thrust in to the game, I found an EVE Online that was more open, more welcoming and genuinely eager to see more people come in. It was by no means gentler, but it was absolutely kinder. Here was a community that I was certain would end up trying to rip me apart and ended up making me want to play beyond the time I needed to write.
And that would have never been experienced if I hadn’t just done it.
So the onus falls on me to just…do it. To find a game that I really am curious about, or that I really think would be fun, find a character that I enjoy controlling and just getting myself in to the game and playing. Wins be damned, failure being a regular option.
It’s the same thing that got me to finally do group content in XIV. It’s the same thing that made me try Atlas Reactor. It’s the same thing that has me wanting to play things like Camelot Unchained and Crowfall. Diving in, pushing new boundaries and really, truly seeing if every gremlin I’ve mentally created is manifest.
Will I ultimately do it? I’m not sure. Apathy is easy, really, and I’ve very often been better at dispensing advice instead of following my own. Still, that want is there, and that has to account for something.
So I suppose I’ll close with a wish to my readers: try things out. Just…give it a swing. One time. Hopefully, I’ll be there with you trying and failing right alongside.