In the modern age of gaming, we’ve moved past the simple times where people would aim for the high score or where speed runners would compete with each other for the fastest times. With eSports being founded in 2000, we’ve seen games like Dota 2, Starcraft II, and Overwatch become extremely popular to watch as professionals duke it out. The earnings are big and the hype for these competitions is even bigger, with thousands and thousands of people viewing these competitions. In addition, even without a formal competition, those same games all have a competitive game mode where players are ranked and can work their way up the “ladder” of ranks.
This has enabled developers to take a new perspective when making their games, and it gives them the choice to even allow players to compete within the game. In addition, it gives developers tools for letting the players choose whether or not to compete with others. For example, a game recently released is Sea of Thieves, where you focus on being a pirate and gaining reputation in a world filled with other players. Players can choose whether or not they want to be aggressive or passive, which adds a certain level of competitive gaming. If someone steals your loot, more than likely you’ll want revenge and then challenge the other players in an attempt to get it back. Of course this a very informal method of competition, but I would still consider it to be a competitive aspect that the developers had to think about.
Then there are games like Minecraft or Ark: Survival Evolved where players can set up servers that have varying degrees of competition. This can be done in the forms of games, actual competition, or just plain PvP.
With this in mind, we can see that there are many options for game developers to choose from when it comes to competition. And as always, players will usually find some way to compete with one another regardless of what kind of game it is. But with this rise of competitive mindsets, we can also see an attitude shift among players and developers.
One of the first games that comes to mind is Overwatch, where recently it has made a big entrance into the competitive scene, along with that comes a lot of changes. When playing the competitive game mode, players tend to be much more serious and les patient with others, which can lead to toxic behavior and poor gameplay experiences. Over time the developers have added more tools for reporting and communication, but there are still problems in the game. In addition, developers will make balance changes to the characters based off the high level players who play at those high ranks, which can feel a little unfair to those who play at lower ranks.
This is just one example, and even within the same company we see a better approach with the game Starcraft II, but there are games that have a difficult time with the balancing act of competitive. It’s mostly difficult because since it is a competitive game mode with consequences for winning or losing, you want the players to play their best. But at the same time, it is still a videogame and for the most part people are not playing for real life consequences like money. So maintain that line where you let your players have freedom and fun while also being serious can be difficult.
The last point I wanted to cover was the player’s attitudes. Whenever I play a competitive game I find that I can get pretty frustrated when I have a losing streak. I’ve touched on the subject of losing in videogames in one of my other articles, but I just want to remind those reading about how they should treat others. If you have a teammate who you don’t think is performing their best, just try reaching out in a kind way to see what is going on. If that doesn’t work, try and adjust your gameplay to adapt around theirs. Finally, if that doesn’t work, just accept that it is what it is and that you won’t be able to change how they play. If they are intentionally doing something wrong, usually you can report them. But if you just don’t think they are good at the game, don’t be rude, try and stay positive and just look forward to your next game!