Monday, May 05, 2008

Sportsmanship, Life and Gaming

Although this article was written a year or so ago, it is one of the best I've seen regarding sportsmanship in online gaming. Read it and think it over. Titan (his nickname) offers some excellent logic, along with a healthy dose of common sense when it comes to sportsmanship in gaming.
Sportsmanship, Life and Gaming by Titan
Sportsmanship, is the ability to enjoy ones self while in a competitive environment, and at the same time, the ability to fairly follow rules while showing great character towards your teammates and competitors alike. Often, competition can sometimes foster a "win only" mentality in a lot of athletes, gamers or any venue where people can be found at odds with one another. The victory "must" be achieved at any cost. This usually is better suited to the more dire of situations, such as war, or the fight against anything that could harm our ability to sustain our quality of life. In recreational situations, however, this often followed tenet can lead to disharmony amongst that particular activities inhabitants.

Firstly, I will use our currently shared hobby as example. In Counterstrike, we vie for ultimate victory, whether it be conquering the final knife round, planting or defusing a bomb, or reaching a certain frag limit. Due to the highly competitive nature of this hobby, along with our sometimes "fragile" egos as human beings, conflicts can often arise. This type of behavior is not limited to a certain age group either. I personally have seen poor sportsmanship from a range of ages between 5-75, INCLUDING myself at times. As we get older however, some of us realize that winning at everything is not always going to be possible. Rather, we take our experiences in losing, as a learning experience. We use these experiences to improve in certain areas. Almost everyone who has shown themselves to be a winner, has had to endure a long streak of losing initially. Rarely do we see a person who excels completely, without some type of long hours invested, or hardship in some form, in their chosen area of recreation.

Let me take a moment of your time to give a personal example. Upon purchasing CounterStrike Source in December of 2005, I knew that I was going to have my tail waxed all over each and every server. I did some research to find the most competitive server I could to play on, right from the start. I found a deathmatch server ran by a clan called Verge (who were ranked very high in the US in some ladders), near the start of my playing days. I then spent the next few months getting reamed night in and night out. Instead of insulting the players, I congratulated them on a nice shot, good strategy, etc. I asked questions concerning how their sterling aim came to be, what practices they used, what mindsets they prepared, for any given situation in game. Instead of being annoyed that I was losing badly, I used that losing to my advantage.

Now, some year and a half later, I feel I have a pretty good shot. Moreso, I learned to analyze the gaming styles of players, to be used to my advantage. Often, I know where certain players will be crouched/waiting, I know routes they will use, I know guns they will use, and methods of theirs, before THEY even know they are going to use them. In the event that I should "die" during a round, I first analyze what I have done wrong or differently, rather then what they did to kill me. Good sportsmanship evolves when we learn to accept our own mistakes, rather than placing blame on others, where applicable. I often (often being the key word, as I falter sometimes also, I'm human) say "good game" to any player that has bested me, as often, they have earned it, no?

I am smart enough to realize this one important facet of internet gaming: As good as I may be at a given point, there will ALWAYS be plenty who are better. Do I do pretty well on the Spawnpoint servers that I play on? Sure. I will tell you one thing however ... Plenty of you guys have a better shot then me. It goes without saying. If I excel, it is because I try to find another way to win, whether it be using your style against you, listening for sounds, or using subterfuge. If I know I cannot out shoots a particular opponent, I will force him into a situation where I have the upper hand, if possible. I will not face him in open ground, and then complain after he explodes one of my eyeballs. Strategy is part of the game, use it to your advantage. If someone outwits me, though I cannot be seen behind my monitor, I usually am laughing in admiration, whilst calling that gamer a sneaky SOB, in jest of course. I then use that experience to LEARN, and possibly add that maneuver to my repertoire.

Respect is often given, where it is earned. I would much rather be respected for having an average skilled gaming style, but great sportsmanship and humility, than be lauded as a childish, "sour grapes" type of gamer. I have had the pleasure of dealing with some great gamers on Spawnpoint, personality wise. I have also had the displeasure of dealing with some really shoddy attitudes, when the game wasn't going their way at the current moment.

Being the best shouldn't always the ultimate goal, in any walk of life.
Should it occur that you can be the best in certain areas, through hard work, fairness, and with respect towards others, then great, the world is yours. Your peers would judge you more harshly for winning badly, than losing gracefully. Some of the most liked and popular people, I have noticed in my years of gaming, are those who traverse their virtual worlds with a smile, or a kind word for others. Those who maniacally chase fame and fortune, with disregard for others, often experience the complete opposite of what it is they seek in the first place.

Sportsmanship and mutual respect go hand in hand. Learn both, and your enjoyment in your chosen hobby will increase hundredfold. Give it a shot. It doesn't make you less of a man or woman to offer a kind word for the next person, should they best you. As well, should you be the victor, learn to accept a compliment with grace, and return one back for the effort given by your competitor.

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