As gamers we sometimes forget that we’re playing a game. I try not to do this since I have limited time to play and really need to make the most of it. But let’s be honest, we’ve all been a little bit too caught up in the competition at times. Who will hit the level cap first? Who will find the best gear? Who’s stuck in bronze and who has made it to platinum? And this isn’t to say competition is bad. But it is asking you to consider if this competition is fun for you, or draining you, making you angry, and dragging down the experience of those playing with you. If it is fun for you, carry on. You’re doing it right. If you find yourself getting angry or frustrated with the game or those you’re playing with, then it’s time to take a step back, breathe, and remember you’re playing a game and that, first and foremost, it is supposed to be fun. If that isn’t enough then take a break from the game and do something else for a bit.
For my part, I know until recently when I picked up a new game my goal was to keep up with those who picked up the game around the same time as me. And this immediately became frustrating because I don’t play as often as many others, and when I do play, I take a very leisurely approach to playing. I actually enjoy the conversation between characters, look for some of the secrets, even those that don’t turn out to be super weapons, and generally just explore in a non-completionist fashion. So the simple solution was to stop worrying about it because I’m supposed to be having fun and playing. This has been good for me.
Oddly enough, despite my general hate for MMOs (not including The Old Republic), as a general rule they do tend to foster cooperation more than competition. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are competitive aspects to these games, and those can be fun, but for more casual gamers the general goal is to get to the level cap and get some sweet gear. Usually there’s plenty of people available to help them do it as they’re working on that very same goal. Perhaps this, along with the more social elements of this kind of game, is why so many people find them so relaxing and enjoyable to play.
League of Legends (and I suspect most other MOBAs as well) is a game that fosters a stressful environment far too much. Everyone is stressed about winning. If not for themselves, then because they don’t want to get yelled at by the rest of their team. Even in normals and custom games people not winning are ready to cast blame on anyone not playing up to what they believe the standard should be, despite the fact some people don’t take the game that seriously, or perhaps are new players and that’s why they aren’t playing ranked matches to begin with. After playing a lot, I’m comfortable that I don’t suck at the game. By no means would I say I’m good at the game, but I have my good matches and bad matches and they’re pretty even. So these days if someone yells at me for not doing well, I usually have the presence of mind to just ignore them and keep playing. Of course this is still distracting, and it can be hard to pull out of slump when you don’t have the support of your team, but if nothing else, you can remind yourself it’s just a game and then do what you can to make a comeback.
In the end, you really just have to ask yourself some questions. Does it really matter if these people are mad at me because they perceive me as bringing the team down? Do I really care that people are plowing through this game faster than I am? Does my rank on the leaderboard really matter? And really, for most people the answer is no, even if you are striving to get better and move up. Because part of the fun of playing the game is playing at your pace and skill level. If you enjoy the game you will play it more, make more progress, get better at the game, and begin to achieve the goals you set in it. If you don’t enjoy the game, you’ll either do the smart thing and stop playing or you’ll keep pushing through and make yourself frustrated trying to hit goals people say you should hit and wonder why you bother. Be smart with your gaming time, and play the games you enjoy. The skill and rewards will follow the fun.