Opinion: Remember to Enjoy Playing Games, Too

by Kevin Knocke

In the world of esports, competitive drive is key.

But unfortunately, that competitive drive can sometimes lead to killing love for the game in the first place. So much so that's it's become a good ol' meme at times when popular players or personalities lose their passion for a game. Whether the chosen game is League of Legends, CS:GO, Overwatch, or any other big esports, it's really easy to get caught up in the grind.

With the holiday season wrapping up, hopefully new players have gotten their hands on some games. That initial rush and fun that's experienced? Don't lose that. It's actually surprisingly easy to do so when the current mindset is to grind hundreds of games to get good.

Similarly, those that have been playing a game they used to love may feel like it's more of a chore to keep on the ladder grind nowadays. So how does one get that love for a game back?

Here are a few tricks to keep in mind:

  1. Take a break. Sounds obvious right? But to many people, the grind of the game becomes almost a psychological dependency. "If I don't keep grinding I'm going to lose ladder points and I'm going to get worse and then THE WORLD WILL END OH NO."

    Chill out, it's not the end of the world. It will be ok.

    In most cases, a few days or a couple of weeks away from a game that's been played for years might be all that's needed for a clear mindset and a fresh approach to the game. And don't spend the break "fake practicing" by reading forums and strategy, watching streams, and backseat driving friends' games. Actually take a break.
  2. Stop playing ranked and learn a brand new role. Take a game like Dota 2 or Overwatch, where there are defined roles in the game. Most players probably have a few characters, or mains, that they rotate between on a regular basis. Maybe they're the kind of person that instalocks a certain role because they're really good at it but aren't so confident in others.

    Then stop playing ranked, pick a completely different role, and start the grind again. If someone is an ADC in LoL, play Jungle. If they play only aggro decks in Hearthstone, start playing control.

    Play Hanzo every game in Overwatch because a headshot was hit one 15 games ago? Play Ana instead and put those occasionally good aiming skills to better use for the team.

    Not only does playing another role broaden a player's skillset, but it also allows a player to understand the game more deeply and empathize better with people who play the role they're learning. If they've learned more about jungling in LoL, then they can help the jungler to better position and help them when they return to ADC.
  3. Set short term goals for improvement. Sometimes the grind of an esport can be boring and frustrating if a player isn't setting personal goals for themselves in the short term.

    Let's say someone needs to work on last hitting in Dota 2. They should challenge themselves to only work on last hits for 10 games in a row, really learn the ins and outs of how a character needs to position themselves and react to maximize last hits. Don't care about the outcome of the game, lose OR win, players should only worry about the mechanic they're improving.

    If a player can do this for a few different aspects of their game, when they come back to the normal grind, they'll find themselves a surprisingly much more complete player, and will likely have a bit more enjoyment out of tearing up the ladder.

It's easy to temporarily (or even permanently if not careful) fall out of love with a game someone still grinds every day. But hopefully they'll remember to consider some of the above and find that love of the game they used to have.

More esports influencing from Knocke: The Best Moment in Esports in 2016 Was the One With the Most Heart | I Watch Way More Hearthstone Than I Admit | Esports Needs a Stat Nerd Invasion