by Brandon Eckerd
Gaming with friends is both an amazing experience and an infuriating one. When things are going well and you are having fun it’s great. This is especially true in a competitive game, where the stakes are higher. This is a certain honor on the line and you fight twice as hard to win. This also creates a certain amount of pressure. It can be easy to lash out at your teammates.
I was playing a game with my friends this morning when I found myself getting very frustrated with them. I felt like I was trying to carry the team on my back. We weren’t playing in sync, and as a result we lost. I turned off my game fuming. I really didn’t anything wrong with how I had played. I was setting the pace of the game, forcing my opponents to respond to whatever I was doing. I was creating space for my team, and they weren’t using it the way I need them to use it. It made me almost want to tear my hair out.
This is not uncommon among my friend group. In fact, it is almost expected when we have lost a game. Someone is going to feel they played better than their teammates and shift the weight of the loss onto them. Occasionally there is validity to this. It is a team game, and if one member isn’t pulling their weight then it can lead to a loss. Making a risky play or being in the wrong place at the wrong time can quickly lead to defeat. The person that makes that play is then the team’s scapegoat.
Now that I have taken a few hours away from the game, I recognize that there is something that I failed to do: communicate. I was playing my own game and, at the time, couldn’t comprehend why we were losing so bad. What I later realized was that I wasn’t verbally coordinating with my friends. I wasn’t telling them when I was going to take an objective. I also committed to hard to my role because I felt I had to play riskier for my team to win, and it didn’t pay off. I was blaming my teammates at the time, but in reality our loss was a joint effort. I did as many things as wrong as they did.
This is a common theme with the games I play. We are much more quick to find fault in others than ourselves. This inherently “toxic” behavior does not make us better players, as it does not expose what we need to improve on. It is a way of covering up our mistakes and shutting ourselves out rather than looking inward. No professional gamer, athlete or competitor of any kind made it to where they are now by blaming others. They had to realize that they did something wrong and find a way to fix it. That is how we improve ourselves. Numerous people have told me throughout my life that acknowledgement of the problem is the first step towards fixing it. This is true for all aspects of life, including our passions and hobbies.