Today, I got in an argument during a round of Quick Play in Overwatch. Now, normally, I am a pretty opinionated person, and I don’t hesitate to express those opinions, but when I’m tired I come off as being an ass (usually because I am). In this particular instance, the argument blew way out of proportion, caused a member of the team to rage quit, and resulted in quite a bit of tension as we sat and looked at our menu screens after a pretty one-sided defeat. Then, Will, genius that he is, came up with an idea: we could do some customs.
For us, custom games, 2v2 with only the four of us (Will, Eligh, Trent, and I), became an easy way to let off some steam. Here, there was no pressure, no need to perform, no need to be great or exceptional, just good, honest, roughly even-skill dueling and laughing at each other’s performance. When there’s no pressure, the fun comes back out, and today, tired as I was, I needed that. I sometimes forget why I play when I’m tired or depressed or otherwise emotionally imbalanced, and it can lead to some tension in my friendships, a great deal of unhappiness for myself, and discontent and suffering all around. I have to remember that I’m here to have fun, here to build community and enjoy getting together with my friends. I have to remember that games aren’t always about winning, and that the competitive gamer in me needs to take a chill sometimes, especially when I’m underperforming and taking it out on others. There’s a reason all my losing streaks happen when I’m tired, and it has to do with both reduced skill and compounding bad decisions, the worst of which I can possibly make is to argue with my team.
If I’ve learned one thing about competitive games – and that means all competitive games, not just ranked ones – it’s not a good idea to play them when you’re tired. As my mother always told me, it’s unwise to make decisions when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired (HALT). She might not have used the word tilt, but I think it applies, and so, you could say, my mother always told me not to make decisions when I’m tilted. And judging by the success of those decisions, I’d say she’s right. Sometimes, the best thing you can do – for your ranking, your health, and your friendships – is to take a break, do something fun, and let competitive have a rest for a few hours. If you’re tired, stressed, or otherwise impaired, it might be best not to get into it at all, and wait those feelings out. After all, games are meant to be fun – not a way to prove yourself, not an excuse to heap insults on your friends, and definitely not to induce rage. If any of the above are happening, it’s best to remember that you aren’t always at your best. And that’s okay. Because some other day, you will be. And that day just might be tomorrow.