Consider the costs of ranking up and whether it's even worth it

You can’t just decide, arbitrarily, that it’s “important” to rank up and then throw massive amounts of your time and energy in pursuit of this thing without asking the fundamental question: should I be doing this at all?

You seriously need to take a moment and ask yourself if improving at Overwatch is the best use of your time. By saying “Yes” to this game, you’re saying “no” to everything else, things that will ACTUALLY and substantively reward you for the time, effort, and attention you invest in them. Things that will move your life forward, and that you’ll actually have something to show for – in the real world. Things that will pay dividends BACK TO YOU, instead of a pursuit that simply drains you of your most precious resource: time.

I realize that most people want to succeed at Overwatch for status (the developers aren’t stupid, they created ranks for a reason: so that you can tie aspects of your identity with your SR/rank, and you’ll have some measure by which to compare yourself [negatively and positively] to others). This is the same pernicious incentive structure that drives people in the real world to feel envy or inadequacy when they see someone driving a fancier car or living in a nicer house. But even then, if you pursue a lifestyle that actually provides those high value material goods, you’ll have created massive personal value and skill in the process (even if your reasons for doing so weren’t ideal). With Overwatch, or gaming in general, it doesn’t give much of anything back. It mostly steals your time and creates massive opportunity costs (an opportunity cost is the loss you incur through missed opportunities).

And there’s a reason why people mostly talk about ranking up, or getting better in order TO RANK UP. Ranking up is a status thing. But really, what status is there in ranking up? Where’s the value? It would even be one thing to say “I’m going to submit to the process of becoming a better Overwatch player because I’m driven by mastery itself. And in that sense, winning, losing, or ranking up wouldn’t matter since your goals are skill-based and ideological, and are not tied to the pursuit of near-meaningless virtual, online status.

It also makes sense to ask yourself whether you think people who’ve reached diamond, or master, or GM, or whatever rank you’re trying to get to are any happier or generally better off because they’ve reached that rank. Would they be better off if they had spent all that time and energy actually doing something much more useful and productive? Or at least pursuing an interest or hobby that actually made them happier and offered real growth and fulfillment.

Look at the hundreds or thousands of hours you’ve put into this game and consider what else you could’ve done with that time, all the other things you’ve could’ve been great at. Things you’d be on your way to mastering. Ask yourself if what you’ve gotten BACK from Overwatch – what it’s given you in return for your time, effort, and frustration – has been rewarding, satisfying, or useful. Was it your best option?

If yes, then by all means, jump back on that hamster wheel.

If no, it’s time to move on to greener pastures.

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Its called having fun dude. I play Overwatch to unwind, relax and get my mind of work, family and a busy life. If youre not enjoying yourself, if the game is a chore for you, then yeah, you shouldnt play obviously. But that kinda goes without saying.

And status? Being good at some random game (or semi-good), is hardly an achievement worth boasting about. Unless youre 13 years old and dont have anything else on your plate that actually matters.

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I play Overwatch because I enjoy the game, and I usually play when my toddler is sleeping…Honestly, I’d love to be able to go out and do other stuff sometimes, but I cant just leave my toddler alone lmao. And if its after his bedtime, it’s usually dark and too late for me to really go do anything else.

I like Competitive because the ranking system gives me a goal to work towards and makes the game more satisfying. I mean, I’m sure plenty of people could be doing better things with the time they spend on this game…But for a lot of people, this is just a way to have fun after a long day of work.

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Awesome post. I try to explain this to people who are desperate to rank up. It takes more dedication and sacrifice than most would believe. Also, the fundamentals and attitudes of the players between ranks can be very different, and perhaps not that much fun.

Are you doing it to make money or go pro one day? Personal obsession of yours? Or is it simply to try and impress people?

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oof this post is more real than I expected

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Yes, congrats, this is every game ever except for maybe Zachtronics games.

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This is a great post! You’ve really expressed the crux of the problem with all videogames, and with Competitive Overwatch in particular. Like you say, players need to consider their own motivation to engage in Competitive Play. I also think we need to see that the motivation Blizzard has given us “ranking up” is a patent lie, when the matchmaking is handicapped with MMR.

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Mostly a personal obsession (I enjoy gaming); OW started as a mental escape when a loved one was slowly dying.

Edit: At this point up to consistent Diamond for a role is my personal goal.

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Agreed. And any hobby or past time or strong interest anyone is going to be pouring considerable time and effort into has to be paying them incredible dividends and improving their lives, otherwise why in the hell are you doing it? If it isn’t, go find something that does!

Overwatch was something I stumbled across, and it sort of just grew in importance without any sort of conscious decision making, as in: “hey, this thing is going to be categorized “Important” and I’m going to spend a considerable amount of time on it because of justifiable reasons X, Y, and Z.” Of course it wasn’t that, even though it dam well should’ve been.

But this of course is where all the theory and strategizing and research into the “attention economy” comes to bear. All the tricks and methodologies and planning that goes into trying to get people to engage with your platform as much as possible, as intensely as possible, for as long as possible urges them to turn the ridiculously unimportant into the essential.

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Adam Alter wrote a great book on the subject of technology addiction called “Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.” Have you read this already?

Sorry to hear about your loved one.

Not surprising as gaming is strategically, purposefully, scientifically, designed to be as enjoyable as hell. In fact, they’re counting on it. The entire business model of the gaming industry rests on your brain being flooded with dopamine every time you begin another gaming session. And because it’s a quick and easy dopamine shot, your brain begins to crave that “high” over and over again. It’s worth reading up on how games become addictive or how they otherwise wind up sucking up massive amounts of your time and energy. Gaming seeks as much as possible to replace all the real life trials and challenges and triumphs we can accomplish in the real world, with a virtual facsimile of those challenges and quests. That’s why games are so enticing. But I’d say every iota of that virtual accomplishment pales in comparison to the accomplishments, achievements, and “level ups” offered by the real world. And while you’re doing one, you literally cannot be doing the other.

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Well I would seperate competitve games like overwatch, cs:go etc. from creative ones like cities skylines or minecraft - or even from story driven games like witcher.

single player games have a finite amount of entertainment, while competitive games are very REpetitve. You are literally doing the same stuff over and over and over again, expecting better results every time, while trying to master your abilities. But if it’s also a team game like Overwatch, you heavily rely on the skills of your team mates. That can be quite contradictive, especially if you are solo queueing and thrown into groups of smurfs and boosted players.

we live in a world, where you (theoretically) can get payed for playing professionally. but everything I’ve read about it (korean bootcamps etc.), sounds absolutely horrible and out of touch with the real world.

the pro-gamer-lifestyle is a joke compared to real worlds sport stars, because you are somewhat bound to one game, that is “flavour of the month” for a very short time. It’s not like you are playing an established game like football, tennis or soccer that doesn’t change fundamentally over the decades. the only exceptions I know are CS:GO and League of Legends and maybe World of WarCraft to some extend. every other game only lasted 1-2 years and was neglected by the masses shortly after. And to be honest, by todays standards, even CS:GO is only a “niche-game”, compared to all the countless alternatives out there. You CAN make money going pro, but I think the chances to do so are even smaller than being successful in a “real” sport.

also you are a marketing puppet for your “investors”. If you don’t perform or act like expected, you simply get fired (Blitzchung anyone?). And most of the time, you are sitting in front of a computer - isolated and disconnected from the real world.

Daddy made a promise he would be at least bottom 8% skill one day (Silver rank). Still <500 years later. What kind of father would I be if I told them to give up when they’re in last place. You finish the damn race.

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I haven’t, but I’ll look into it. I’ve already been reading up on some of his ideas for the past few minutes and he’s got some great insights on this. The more you read about this stuff, the more sinister it gets. It’s literally exploiting people’s bio-psychology and using it against them.

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You don’t get gold guns playing regular game modes.

You also don’t get them if you lose.

Welcome to my hell in the smurf elo.

I don’t actually care about rank anymore but I want something for my heroes they keep gutting.

Orisa will be my fourth.

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Yes, there are highly exploitative patterns to corporate behaviour, which is designed to fleece people’s money and time. Perhaps the creepiest thing about high-tech corporations like Blizzard, Facebook, or Twitter is the way they influence our human behaviour. I hope you read the book, and please let me know if you do!

not really, at least not when it comes to the hobby stuff. That’s just an arrogant knock that people who are not into some given hobby use when poking at someone else hobby.

being no one really cares if a person is into rebuilding cars, home theater, boats, fishing, bowling, darts, watch collecting etc etc etc. They all will get mocked and knocked by others who are not into the hobby as either a waste of money, time or both.

Even healthy hobbies like working out or running etc are not immune from being knocked by others as wasting time/money/effort. “You’re never going to win the Ironman why are you training all these hours?” etc etc etc.
Even having kids will find parent being told how wow you just spend all your time on the kids.

There really is no winning

I see what you’re saying here, but these are false equivalencies. Many hobbies are intrinsically more rewarding than gaming. And games like Competitive Overwatch manipulate people into continuing to play, even when the fun has worn off. Speaking for myself, I have deep regrets about the time I have spent with a lot of videogames, Competitive Overwatch in particular.