I don’t think I was ever a gaming prodigy, but I do remember being far better at playing competitive games like first person shooters and real-time strategy games when I was a teenager. Even if I wasn’t top-tier, I felt like I was able to hold my own and not feel as useless as a wet tissue.
This was back in the days when I didn’t have the money to buy the best gear, either. I spent a lot more time playing in LAN cafes – where you also had to deal with being shamed by your friends if you couldn’t contribute to the team.
In the last few years, I’ve come to a realisation: I am much worse at video games than I was a decade ago.
The last time I tried playing Starcraft 2, I was just terrible. Everything from shitty APM to a lack of awareness was a problem, I always ended up on the wrong end of an utter humiliation.
I tried getting into Overwatch for a while, and did semi-decently, but never could make it past gold and platinum ranking. I also had to grind for an inordinately long time to reach those rankings and lost what little hair I had trying to do so.
This year, I got into Apex Legends for a few months and started to have fun with FPS games again. However, it took one important thing before I was able to do so: I had to accept that I was terrible. After taking in that painful, truth, I actually found myself enjoying my gaming sessions again.
After that, dying soon after jumping out of the plane didn’t hurt so much. The rare victories also seemed sweeter, because I knew that I was up against people that were much better. Seeing a “VICTORY” or “DUTY COMPLETED” screen brought that sense of joy again.
I then moved toward Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and then Warzone, which I still play today, and struggled. That’s my most-played game from 2020-21 and I am below average with a K/D ratio of 0.85 and a win count of 56.
It got me wondering though, what made me so bad?
Why was it that I used to be able to raid effectively in World of Warcraft, claim top kill scores in Quake, and consistently reach division 1 in FIFA’s season modes?
I narrowed it down to a few factors.
Once upon a time, I could spend 10-12 hours straight playing games. This was especially true when I was still in school. Not having so many priorities helped me get the practice time and, just like anything else, games need you to put in the time and the repetition.
I used to be able to laser-focus on a game for hours on end. It didn’t matter that I had been playing for half a day, I was still just as engaged and focused on doing what it takes to win. Now, I find myself starting to lose interest and concentration after as little as 30-45 minutes of playtime. I start thinking about other games, watching a movie, or (gasp) going outside.
In the past, I wouldn’t be able to quit gaming until I finished a particular raid in WOW, or finished grinding out victories in FIFA. Now, I just don’t feel the need to finish everything in one sitting. In fact, I now enjoy the thought that some games might last me a month or more.
Now, I’ve got a decent income and can afford a high-end PC, current-gen consoles, and other accessories like a good keyboard, mouse, and headset. The unfortunate truth is that they’re not making me any better.
Well, at least I feel a little cooler when sitting down for a session.
It’s not all bad, though. While I may not be as good or as hardcore a gamer as I once was, I still deeply enjoy escaping into fictional worlds through my console or PC. I’ve just had to adjust to the new way that I play, and the titles that I choose to get into.
Single player games have become a much larger part of my rotation these days, too. I love titles like The Outer Worlds, Hades, and Loop Hero. I’ve come to care a lot more about lore and story than frenetic gameplay.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a competitive person. Even if I know I’m going to lose, you better believe that I’m going to talk shit until the very end. That part hasn’t gone away. Want an example? Challenge me to a game of FIFA.
Side note: I’ve got a lot of love for everyone who’s still great at gaming and puts in their hours. That doesn’t count all of the dirty people who use in-game hacks. You are not better than me and I hope your computers melt and your accounts get stolen or banned.