Salty Limey


Demotivational Demons
October 1, 2010, 5:15 am
Filed under: Super Street Fighter IV

Something that plagues any freshblood scrub is mental blocks – not just the regular and well-understood sort, such as not wanting to seem ‘cheap’ by ‘abusing’ a tactic that works over and over against an opponent (helpful as that would obviously be in pointing out that person’s weaknesses to them), or unwillingness to sit on a life advantage as the clock ticks away to a timeout win, but also the endless capacity we have to invent excuses not to play. Of course, any scrub who’s spent time playing casually or online can find the switch to spending an hour or more in Training Mode something of a hurdle. In this switchover it seems that the game can lose much of its fun – going from exciting matches with real win-loss situations into essentially humbling yourself into learning (initially) timing sequences for combos and then doing reps of them, trying to make sure you can pull them off whenever you have to. After kicking (albeit low-ability) arse and taking (unheard of) names, sitting there failing a basic link five times in a row makes you feel like going from king of the hill to looking for your shoes in the mud at the bottom, where they were thrown by the kings of the much bigger hill. It’s all an issue of mindsets, clearly, where you invest a certain amount of time in training mode so that the next time you play some folks who actually know what they’re doing, you perform less embarrassingly, and can get that ‘I’m-improving!’ rush that can become a primary motivational factor for us scrubs.

Speaking of embarrassment, however, another mental block – one that particularly plagues me from time to time – on the opposite end of the spectrum is the feeling of spoiling other people‘s fun. Just as with the previous example of turning your fun, competitive game into a learning-by-rote snorefest in the eyes of many, I suspect there’s an element of truth in this one also.

When I go round to casual sessions with the local Western players in Beijing (our scene-in-exile, if you will), who’ve all become fast friends of mine, I’m happy to throw down whenever my turn comes up, and far more often than not, have my arse handed to me on a silver platter, along with some helpful hints, served as an entrée. But after a few hours of rotation, when people properly get into the rhythm of things, and we start to see some of the sessions’ best matches, I feel like my matches are still in the throwing-the-scrub-a-bone category, everyone else’s being watched avidly by us all. At times like these it feels like even I start to want my matches to end quickly, to stop them getting in the way of the good stuff.

Luckily the folks there haven’t voiced this opinion at all, and as usual have supported my participation fully, but I’m growing impatient with my relative lack of progress over the last two months – due to the lack of any stable accommodation (until now) and a setup of my own (hopefully to be remedied in the next day). I’m learning a lot of good lessons, and really improving on the theory side of things, but without being able to go home and practice what I’ve learned, and actually put together pulling off some B&Bs with relative  frequency, I’m going to be stuck more or less where I am now. I’m sure this impatience is at least somewhat shared by the rest, as it almost makes it seem like the previous weeks’ advice has fallen on deaf ears.

Leaving the unique, me-specific excuse of not having a setup aside, this is a mental roadblock that I suspect has to be overcome by just being a tad selfish about it all. You might be there as a social thing (I certainly welcome this side of the sessions), but it’s also a casuals session to level up your game. Everyone there has their own improvement in their sights. They might be willing to dispense advice to those who need it, which costs them nothing, but just as they didn’t primarily come to coach their lessers, you shouldn’t be there solely to admire their skills. You have to make your own improvement the priority, because no-one else is going to do that for you (unless they have the time and motivation to properly take you under their wing, I suppose, but even then your ‘coach’ will likely spend sessions improving their own game, training you in their own time). It sounds like a dickish thing to do when put like that, but frankly it’s what everyone should expect of you – because you putting your own improvement as a low priority only means that you’ll be on the bottom rung for even longer, and will keep being a distraction between matches instead of being, if not an up-and-coming, at least an improving player.

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