The Mindset of a Successful Gamer: Dealing With Loss

Hey everyone, so this week I was thinking about gaming as a whole and all the different aspects behind it. Motivation for playing, the feelings you get while playing, and what happens when you win or lose a game. Most people can agree that winning a game is a satisfying feeling. Whether it’s a simple game of cards to something entirely more complicated and thought out like chess, a win is a win. But on the other half of the coin there is something everyone has to deal with at some point, loss.

Of course everyone is taught to deal with loss for much more important things in life than games, but that is a different type of losing. One can’t compare losing their favorite pencil to losing a videogame, they are two different worlds and I’m here to talk through one of those.

As soon as you start a game, you usually go in with the mindset that you are determined to win, and while there may be other goals you have along with that such as practicing a skill or simply to have fun, usually the goal is to win. Mentally that sets up your brain to have a negative reaction when you lose, of course this will look different per person, but most people don’t walk away from a loss entirely happy. Then dealing with the negativity after losing can be a challenge of its own, especially if you’re like me in that a loss can cause a considerable amount of anger. But getting on top of these negative feelings is important for anyone who wants gaming to be a positive thing in their life rather than a negative one, let me show you why.

When I play games for a few hours and win most games or do really well, I’ll walk away after wrapping up for the night with a happy attitude and my brain will shift its focus off the games and onto the next thing such as dinner with my wife. However, if I lose multiple games I have the tendency to keep playing until I win which usually leads to less patient gameplay which leads to more losses, and the cycle continues. In the past I’ve played for many hours longer than I should have, desperately yearning for a victory before I sleep, and without realizing it the clock says 2:30 AM and my wife is asleep. At this point I would get up from my computer with an unsatisfied feeling and drag myself to bed, feeling terrible for wasting time and getting so frustrated.

This is the type of thing I have been actively trying to avoid more and more in my life, as it only makes me disappointed and feeling like I’m not good enough. Some may say that it’s just a game, therefore I should just get over it, but it never is really that easy.  But I have found a few techniques that help me stay away from negativity and simply enjoy playing games.

First, I would say that its important to recognize which games are giving you problems. For example, Overwatch is a game that can cause me to rage about a loss. But since I know that, I can avoid that game when I know I will have troubles with it.

Second, figure out what moods can set off anger when you lose. Different moods will affect how you deal with a loss, so if you can figure out which moods make losing difficult, you’ll know when you should probably avoid playing games.

Finally, if you play with friends, you are much less likely to get overly mad at a loss. Typically when you game with friends you want to just have a good time and treat it more like a fun social interaction. So if you do end up losing, you probably won’t feel as bad about it (unless you’re the extremely competitive type, which is an entire article of its own).

With all of this in mind I will end this with a friendly reminder. Games are designed to be enjoyed by those who play them, so no matter what happens remember that you’re playing to have fun, and that you’ll always be able to try again in the future!

Guest author: Jospeh Musgrove