Dear Nyame

As a fan of fighting games, I’m no stranger to the communities that thrive from Evo championship nut-riding. The unfortunate thing is when it comes to video games that have any real sense of competition, this is a sub-group that is damned impossible to escape, because they’re everywhere, on and offline. A lot of gamers who play games “for fun” have a tendency to decry them because they “ruin” the fun of games. But no one really understands why this happens. How do Pro-gamers ruin the fun of games?

We all like to lie to ourselves and say “we don’t care how other people play a game”, but we know deep down, that’s a bunch of bullshit. We care ever so deeply of how other people play games because if there is an online component, you better believe it impacts how well you enjoy a video game. If a game has a Pro-Gamer environment, that means that 50-70% of the time, you will have to be a part of that environment if you want to win. No one wants to admit this because as most people state multiple times, we want to play the games our own way. Of course, the problem is that the Pro-gamers seemingly go out of their way to punish you for wanting to play the game the way  you want, or they’ll mock you with a euphemism of “that’s fine, but you won’t win”. “But I can just play offline, right?” No. You’re bashed over the head about the importance of online in video games, you’re going to want it, eventually. It’s more convenient to find someone over the net than trying to look for someone around your way to play. If/when you do, you’re going to be faced with these types of gamers.

And that means cutting out the Hyrule Temple stage 😦

There’s a reasonable explanation for this. Sure, we can go on and say “well humans are jerks”, but that answers nothing and goes on to simplify human nature as “existence without cause”. No one likes to explore the causation of these behaviors.

The Pro-Gamer is a sub-set of Hardcore Gamers in that they take gaming perfection to an extreme. If a game has tournaments (most fighting games), the gamers will look for exploits or the best strategies in a game and narrow them down to the most effective choices available. It’s similar to MMA where the best fighting styles are narrowed down to Grappling styles or Muay Thai. When it comes to the desire to win, flushing out all of the flawed or inferior strategies is always common. This is the primary issue many have with Pro-Gamers. They have a tendency to make every strategy except for one, nearly obsolete, and this is usually determined by pitting strategies against each other using test subjects who are at their prime, nearly perfect, or otherwise.

This happens in all fields that have competition (businesses in general), but when things get narrowed down, people tend to get upset as this is the only strategy you see. Businesses risk money by using the same strategies over and over again. Pro-Gamers risk nothing by using set in stone strategies, which makes the environment much more unbearable for everyone else. This goes into the western linear train of thought in which many believe that there is only one key to success. There are multiple ways to solve a math problem, but only one acceptable way when comes time to “show your work”. If you don’t go to college, you’re on a path to nowhere. Engineering is the only real field worth getting into. In the West, we narrow everything down to only one feasible solution, the only one that matters in life. And the only goal in life is the pursuit of wealth. And more often than not, because of western arrogance, we have a tendency to push this “only solution” thought process on everyone else because we believe that we are doing a public service by shoving that “one solution” mantra down everyone’s throats. Religious people especially have this problem. So do those in politics. But it’s damned everywhere in this country, why would we not expect this in video games?

But it’s not so much the playstyle rather than the behavior that really puts people off. And unfortunately, this is never going to change. Why?

You need to look at Pro-gamers in the same way as you would for other professionals in different fields of their expertise. These are people who have spent a majority of their life perfecting their craft. They go through several lengths of practice, training, research, etc. to get to the positions that they are in. As such, as a professional, they would, for most cases, deserve respect for their efforts. But here is the difference. Most professionals that people SHOULD have respect for… are those that actually contribute something to the world. Those who have professions in entertainment contribute nothing but delivering processed distractions for everyone else to waste their time over. Pro-Gamers, sadly, demand respect more often than not. And they can be quite obnoxious with their demands.

Many, lets say “Lax-Gamers” have a tendency to never give them respect anyway. Primarily because Pro-Gamers leave a nasty first impression. Many times, people associate the hobby/training/etc. with the mentality of the professional, and become discouraged from the hobby due to the professionals behind them. Not just pros, but regular fans of the hobbies. I don’t need to guess how many of you have been put off by certain games and hobbies due to the horrible fans they have.

Cookie for reference?

Why you ask? Lets think about this. Take a Pro-football player (Lets say “RG3”) and compare him with Justin Wong. On one hand, RG3 is good at what he does, but is very humble about his profession and shows no animosity to his opponents. Wong, on the other hand, is boastful, arrogant, and insults many aspects of video games he finds less worthy of his attention. I don’t think I’ve heard Daigo Umehara speak once. Now, if you take RG3, you would think football is a better hobby to succeed a while Wong, you would think video games are a severe waste of time. Why?

They will see Football as a hobby that builds good character.

They see a football professional who is usually humble and a decent person to be around. Who the hell wants to hang around people like Justin Wong?

So what happens is that the profession of competitive video games is associated with the mentality of the Pro-Gamer. Competitive gaming builds nasty character, as demonstrated by those who appear on the internet and sometimes in the real world. And pro-gamers in general have a terrible habit of belittling another person’s play style as being inferior and not capable of winning in a “real” match.

Gamers tend to have egos so inflated that they cannot see beyond their own preferences and opinions. Pro-gamers take this on a larger scale of insanity where they believe their preferences and opinions are the only ones that matter. Take the Pokemon community for instance. One guy says it best.

It’s not the act of EV training that’s a problem, it’s the mindset of people who try to pidgeonhole all of the elements of Pokemon into a “competitive” environment at the expense of everything…

….There is nothing wrong with enjoying Pokemon as a numbers game, but attempting to trivialize every other aspect of the series is just being an asshole.

Well, maybe not best since gamers are somehow against profanity these days, but I digress. I’ve been on forums unrelated to Pokemon, and when the topic comes up about liking say a Mewtwo over Arceus, prepare to get into debates about base stats and natures. And these views would “matter more” because they are based on scientific evidence. It’s not an opinion, but rather researched conclusions. The problem is that they bring this into a context that does not call for scientific evidence but rather preference, but good luck telling the “pokemon masters” this. They’re inconsiderate people. Actually, Pokemon fans in general are inconsiderate people, it might not be exclusive to the Smogonites.

The lax-gamers, out of spite and a bit of vengeance, denounce and belittle the meta-gaming environment and anyone who is a part of it. What happens is that the pro-gamers then become even more hostile toward the lax-gamers for their own grief. And the wars begin. The pro-gamers suddenly become self-righteous, essay-typing folks about their passion, ignoring, or popularly disassociating from the proclaimed “bad eggs” of their communities. My favorite line is “yes, I AM better than you”.

Many times, pro-gamers will buy their own propaganda in that the lax-gamers hate the pros because “they’re just inferior to the pros”. This gives them the idea that they can say whatever, do whatever, and be however they damn well please, because their skills are superior. No one is talking about the fact that the attitude is the primary reason they are despised. “Haters gonna hate” and all that shit. The truth is many people would honestly not give a damn how good someone is at their craft. It’s the behavior that comes with the territory they are concerned with. America is probably the most “free” country in the world, and people like freedom. But people don’t like Americans because…. I don’t have to spell it out for you. People hate America because Americans are assholes. The problem is Americans are more egotistical than everyone else in the world, so they ignore the criticisms and suggest that everyone is “just jealous”.

This probably goes back to the school bully therapeutic response in which the victim is told “they’re all just jealous of you” when the victim got his ass kicked. If they believe the lie, the victim grows up not even addressing the criticisms of their detractors should they go the asshole route and “not give a shit”. “They’re all just jealous of me, so fuck them!” This leads to a lack of empathy on part of the no-shit-giver, and would explain the toxic environment pervading internet gaming forums, and America in general. “They’re all just jealous”.

Why is it easy for the pro-gamer to suggest that it’s only your jealousy preventing you from seeing how great and right he is, instead of referencing his psuedo-imperialistic mentality as the main culprit? Simple. Jealousy has been proven to be the single most-effective scape-goat to escape criticism of one’s actions, and easily rebukes ones argument. When you suggest jealousy is the cause of someone’s dissent, onlookers see a person’s envy as a flaw on his or her character. “If this person trained or practiced as hard, he could be just as great as him, but instead he chooses to hate another person’s craft”. They assume the person is lazy or doesn’t practice hard enough to be as great or better than the pro. As a result, most legitimate complaints are flushed out in awe of the pro’s talent. Fox News tried the same argument when a rival network (correctly) assessed that Fox’s stories were falsified for sensational viewings. Fox basically stated that the network was jealous because they get more viewings. Sleazy, isn’t it? But it worked.

The Hubris of the Pro-gamer is that thick. The vainglorious essays they write usually come out of petty defense for their own playstyles, and their near-autocratic definition of the “correct” way to play a game can turn anyone off in mere seconds. But the primary reason is that they, more than other sub-groups of hardcore gamers, show 0 respect for anyone that does not play on the same level or better… than them. To garner their respect, you must never speak ill if them. You must train as they do. You must attend tournaments in order to have a valid opinion on games. You must become…..David Sirlin. If you do not display most of these traits, you mean nothing.

And the funny thing is no one can really ignore them. Gamers, no matter what status you serve, have huge egos, and pro-gamers have a spectacular ability at rubbing people the wrong way. It’s not easy to ignore someone who comes off as condescending toward how you approach your hobby. I’ve said it before, when you love something a lot, you tend to absorb that something into your soul. So if that something is harmed in anyway (verbally or physically), it harms you as well. So the way you play a game is intricately a part of you, and you were told that the way you play is shit. How are you supposed to feel after dealing with several people that have this mindset? Never the less have any respect for them? They’ve bruised and battered your ego in many ways, and the only way you can be at peace would be to beat them in a match. But that would be impossible for many average people considering the sheer gap in skill level.

Speaking of which..

Corruption by power is an all too common trope that many are familiar with. We become powerful to the point that we do no longer have a connection to those who are beneath us. The powerful always judge the “weak and inferior” as they feel their power alone is enough to silence the critics who would be foolish enough to challenge them. Power liberates one from social responsibility, consideration, and norms because with power comes the ability to get away with it. It is why many people seek incredible wealth.

But in the end, it’s still just a video game. But arrogance is universal amongst many different crafts. At the root of it all, we hate arrogance, but we become our anti-thesis when finding power. It’s why so many scorned lax-gamers become a part of the pro-crowd and evolve into the same nonsense that they originally found appalling.