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How important is winning in online games (and what even is winning) ?


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This thought came to me the other day whilst playing Clash Royale, a game I've played on my phone for years now. You make a deck using 8 of 100+ cards available then realtime battle another real person - its quite a tactical game but there are some horrible ugly ways of winning which whilst not guaranteed a win are designed to frustrate and irritate whoever you're playing. I never go anywhere near those decks/tactics as play for fun but you see them a lot and they stink the game up a bit, though can provide joy when you overcome them. What mindset sits there miserably grinding in a game with the aim of stinking things up to frustrate as many other people as possible ?

 

Then you've games like Tetris 99 which are all about the skill, but for many mere mortals a win is unlikely to ever happen.

 

Likewise something really fun and family friendly in Fall Guys, when it launched it was super knockabout and in the launch week I even managed to win a few rounds and get some precious crowns - I went back on the other day and everybody has memorised the courses and optimum tactics and hares straight to the finish line perfectly, I barely qualified from a round and the joy seemed missing from it somehow

 

Splatoon 2 never ran out of joy for me, I hate online shooters but somehow the non violent short team based gameplay meant I always felt satisfied in playing, even if on a losing run. 

 

I know GIT GUD is the answer to much of this but the question is what percentage of gamers ever win a game of many titles now with battle royale for example such a prominent format type, is winning now not about coming first but accumulating XP to unlock outfits and stuff ?

 

Of course applies to all genres, shooters, racing, sport (FIFA get ruthlessly exploited every year with special players and shots from precise locations etc)

 

It's a bit of a rambling OP as winning is different things in different games, but thought it's an interesting conversation.

 

 

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A fun, competitive game to me is way more important than winning to me. I take no joy from stomping an opponent or being stomped. I don't play a lot of online multiplayer, but if I'm playing a game on local multiplayer I only want to play games where everyone has some sort of shot of winning. Nintendo games tend to be pretty good for that, I've played a fair chunk of Mario Party on the Switch, it also helps that my wife is marginally better than me at Tetris, so we have some good close games on that. I can't think of anything worse than playing Fifa online, getting steamrolled by some pubeless wonder who then calls my mum something they don't know the meaning of.

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I remember playing and loving red alert 2 a million years ago, even thought I was pretty good at it.
 

Eventually I went online and soon realised that every other person in the world was better than me. 
 

I’m more or less a solo player, or at best, co-op online. 

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I pretty much play only Splatoon 2 online, and it's the moment-to-moment play that's the thing. I don't mind losing to a good team, or if I personally had a good game, or even to bad luck if it was otherwise fun. A tough, close loss is better than a walkover win.

 

I yo-yo in ranking - I just had a sequence of games where I dropped from S+7 to S+0, and it's not a problem. The meta is clearly getting tougher, or I had some bad luck, or was just a bit shit recently. Who cares?

 

The lack of voice comms is a big help, mind.

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I think the fighting game community went through a similar debate 15 or 20 years ago, with things like David Sirlin's "playing to win" series of articles, which asserted that if you cling to certain mentalities (like "playing for fun", "playing in the spirit the developers intended", and "not exploiting bugs or imbalances"), then you're a scrub.

 

http://www.sirlin.net/articles/playing-to-win

 

Is a certain tactic a really effective way to win, but really repetitive and boring? Then use it! Should a skilled player go easy on a newbie, or use their abilities to destroy them? He argues: maybe the latter...

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It used to be important to me when playing PES 4 and 5 as I was a top player back in the day and I would get pissed off if I lost by something shit. 

 

Was important to me in Worms Armeggedon as I wanted to keep my worldwide No1 ranking. 

 

Now as an old git, I don't give a fuck. As long as I have fun.

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This is why I stick with team based multiplayers usually because if i'm not so good at it the odds are i'm still going to win every now and again because of a good team around me.

 

Battlefield is typically my game though and it's not often I don't do pretty well at it. But even then I don't think it bothers me so much because it's playing as a team. Fifa's the game I play where it's based on just my performance and again I don't mind if I lose but there can be a lot of bullcrap on fifa that can win or lose you a match which can get mildly irritating. If you get beat by someone better fair enough ^_^

 

 

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22 minutes ago, Nick R said:

I think the fighting game community went through a similar debate 15 or 20 years ago, with things like David Sirlin's "playing to win" series of articles, which asserted that if you cling to certain mentalities (like "playing for fun", "playing in the spirit the developers intended", and "not exploiting bugs or imbalances"), then you're a scrub.

 

http://www.sirlin.net/articles/playing-to-win

 

Is a certain tactic a really effective way to win, but really repetitive and boring? Then use it! Should a skilled player go easy on a newbie, or use their abilities to destroy them? He argues: maybe the latter...

 

the first article is great, and articulates my 'scrub' mentality really well, especially in Clash Royale where I refuse to lower myself to using certain tactics, playing the meta cards etc and am essentially playing my own lower level game within a game that I'm moderate at, but will never be great at. 

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10 hours ago, Nick R said:

I think the fighting game community went through a similar debate 15 or 20 years ago, with things like David Sirlin's "playing to win" series of articles, which asserted that if you cling to certain mentalities (like "playing for fun", "playing in the spirit the developers intended", and "not exploiting bugs or imbalances"), then you're a scrub.

 

http://www.sirlin.net/articles/playing-to-win

 

Is a certain tactic a really effective way to win, but really repetitive and boring? Then use it! Should a skilled player go easy on a newbie, or use their abilities to destroy them? He argues: maybe the latter...

In a competition where winning is the goal, I like Sirlin’s approach. People essentially aren’t in a professional competition to have fun, but to win. Sometimes they have fun too (see Usain Bolt).
 

Really, I think most people want some competitiveness in the match and we of course like to win.

 

Winning means less when you’re demolishing a beginner.
 

If you have the race of your life in a racing game and come a close second to someone who is way better than you, it can be gloriously enjoyable. 

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I play Mario Kart online sometimes and you come across guys/girls with thousands and thousands of points and they win every single race but I’m not that sure what they get out of it..? I’m pretty sure i have more fun than them finishing 4th-9th, Mario Kart is more fun in the mid positions getting people with all the items than way out in front, that must be like playing single player

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I haven’t played online for a very long time, last time was probably Destiny Vault of Glass raid. I prefer working as a team to beat the game rather than trying to beat somebody else. 
 

Playing online against others was fine, but I always struggled if people cheated or if the game glitched to make it unfair. I remember playing Virtua Tennis 2009 online and suffered due to a great glitch. When I hit the ball to my opponent the ball would bounce in their side of the court and then just stop in the air by the baseline, which made it impossible for me to win a point. I quit and was reported for quitting.

 

I spent most time online with racing games, Forza 2 and 3, Motorstorm Pacific Rift, Blur and Driveclub. Was never that fussed about winning, just enjoyed a good fair race. I appreciate it’s difficult to define a fair race in Motorstorm or Blur due to the nature of the games, but I did hate the idiots in Forza who would pile into you on the first corner, weave so you couldn’t pass or the special idiots who decide to drive the wrong way around the track. I quite enjoyed the team mode in Driveclub too, but even with that, people in the same team would fight against each other, slow each other down, crash and give the victory to the other team. 

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12 hours ago, Luseth said:

This is why I stick with team based multiplayers usually because if i'm not so good at it the odds are i'm still going to win every now and again because of a good team around me.

 

Yeah, lately I've become a fan of either "team vs team" multiplayer, or co-op PvE (Destiny etc.) There have even been some fun co-op fighting game experiences in the past, such as Dragonball FighterZ or (whisper it) SF X Tekken.

 

There was a time where I got into ranked Super SFIV in a big way, and it was interesting to see all of the "trends" - which characters were being played, which strategies were favourable, and so on - but the upper ranks punished losses a lot (drops in ranking points, etc), and those higher stakes took away the fun a bit because it made things a bit stressful. So I guess I get more invested in winning if there are stakes? Whereas with casual lobby formats I can just jump on, find some matches and jump off. :) 

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