Translation by: @shinjinbaiken
Five years ago, there was a period when my spirit was completely broken. It was between June 2010 and September 2011, a period of one year and a little bit more, when I continued to play Guilty Gear despite I was withering away.
For people that have just gotten to know me, they are often surprised when they hear this, and ask as if they were surprised that there ever was such a period. Yes, I was truly cracking up. During this period, I think that I was a causing a lot of inconvenience for my friends…
I have previously written about “If you want to play Guilty Gear you should because you like playing it!”, and this post is kind of the story of why I came to that conclusion.
The story follows this disposition:
• The sequence of events when my spirit broke
• That which followed
• Why it happened
• How I bounced back
• Current status
>> The sequence of events when my spirit broke
At that time, I was attending an event called Tougeki’10, and my goal was to take the national championship title. The format of Tougeki’10 was based around local qualifiers into regionals, and if you win the regionals you get a spot at the main tournament. So you had to win in the regionals to have a chance at the championship title.
I managed to qualify to the main tournament, but there were so many players that were better than me, and I was not managing to achieve a good win rate at all. I was very stressed over the fact that our team could not win with me being at this level, and that I could not catch up to the level of my team mates Ina (Millia) and Mitsurugi (Zappa). Both of my team mates were very strong, and Mitsurugi in particular was so absurdly strong that I wanted to not let our team be referred to as “the Mitsurugi team”.
However, I could not show good results at the local Mikado tournaments, and I could not even win against the players I wanted to win against in casuals. Furthermore, I was losing to other players’ alternative characters, and I could not understand the reason to why I was losing.
This was all piling up and ultimately leading to my spirit being broken.
>> That which followed
The effects of my spirit being broken can be divided into four aspects:
• The game was not fun at all.
• If I won I did not get any boost in self-confidence. Only losses remained in my mind.
• I could not remember the reasons to why I won or why I lost.
• I could not take in any advice from my friends.
I think the first point originated from the reason to which I played: to take home the national championship. I faced a dilemma where the main tournament was closing in so quickly, and I was also driven by a desire to do my best for my team mates. For the second point, I got stuck thinking that my victories were “because of luck”, and my losses were “because I sucked”.
As for the final two points… now these two were the really big problems. I had completely stopped thinking. Even if I won, I had no idea why my choices were working in my favor. I was playing by habits, had no self-confidence, incapable of understanding why I won or lost, and on top of that I was not even enjoying it… actually to the point that just writing this makes me want to think of going on a one week vacation to Okinawa to see the ocean. It was truly a loop of breaking down, recover for a bit, to then just break down again…
In that state, I attended Tougeki’10, an event with a fixed interval of qualifiers, consequently not showing any good results, and constantly returning to my broken state… and it continued for almost an entire year. Losing all my matches for events across several days, and even changing my character for a couple of months (from AC Faust to AC Testament)…
>> Why my spirit was broken – the first reason
Thinking back, I think I had set an unreasonable goal for myself.
At that time, I was thinking to myself that I would not lose to anyone. I should safely win close to 100% against everyone, and take home national championship. It’s good to have dreams, but these were truly unattainable when I was continuously facing strong players that would adapt to my play style.
I was not thinking at all about my current level, how I can show good results, what process is necessary to achieve those results, and what I should prioritize in order to meet those results. It was all about the sole and unmeasurable goal of “improving my win rate”.
I do not think I was particularly good at setting goals back then. If I think back, there probably were many matches that I was actually winning, but I did not acknowledge the times when I was because of my unreasonable goal.
>> Why my spirit was broken – the second reason
The uncertainty of not knowing if I would be able to show good results made me afraid to the point that I stopped thinking.
I cannot win at all! The loss is not because of anyone else but me! I do not know if I can improve and start winning… I do not know when I will improve… Maybe I am incapable of winning? If that is the case, wouldn’t it be easier to just stop trying to find an answer, or trying to understand my own weaknesses? I think that I might have been having these thoughts at that time.
I had no self-confidence, and I could not realize why I was winning or losing, nor could I take in the advice from other players. I think I could not actually process the advice I was getting because of the way I was thinking.
>> How I bounced back
I bounced back by looking at the matches of a player that was using the same character, who was winning with a play style very different from my own. By doing so, I realized something that opened my eyes.
I have talked about this on stream, but bouncing back started with me watching RF play Faust. I have not been doing that which he does, and what happens if I try doing that? I was curious. Trying this out of course did not lead to my win rate increasing immediately, but it drastically changed how my matches looked, and how I looked at my matches.
I am not sure how to phrase this, but it was like that when I was uncertain of what to do, I quickly jumped to the conclusion that I should just go with the options that I believed in. By thinking and thinking, I had gotten stuck in a spiral where even if my choices backfired, I just kept thinking that it was such a big thing, and if I just try it again it would most certainly work the next time.
Dragging with you all of the various losses you experience throughout a game with you can negatively influence the flow of your matches. At this time, I started to strongly believe in thinking about the reasons why you lost after the match, and focusing on winning as a whole while playing.
Also, I started having confidence in that my choices will in fact work out for me. Originally I was mainly concerned with how to safely attain a good win rate, and without going that far, I continued to use moves that I viewed as safe options, together with an arrangement of bigger choices to be used in the heat of battle. Or, that was a way of thinking that started approaching.
Opening my eyes to the fact that such simple things can change the flow of the game in such a big game made me curious to try even more things out – ultimately leading me to enjoying the game again.
And so then ACPR came, and eventually also Xrd. The series transitioned, and my win rates started improving. Of course, Faust receiving changes (becoming stronger) of course mattered, but I sincerely believe that I improved as a player throughout this process.
>> What about now?
Even today the losses pile up, and I become down at times. But even at the worst times, I’m just down a couple of days, and now I can more easily shift back into a mode where I look into exploring new things.
I also think that completely losing one’s ability to break down and become weak is also not good. When it happens, it always leads to me think that I want to become strong, and so now I try to keep the feeling of frustration, ignoring the more emotional part, and immediately shift gears into thinking about what I need to do in order to become stronger. I’m trying to focus on letting the feeling of taking a loss be as passing as possible.
When I’m not calm about it, I take a temporary pause, and only start thinking about the game when I am calm again. At these times, I read manga, go to the convenience store, listen to music etc.
I also try to focus on that “I play this game because I like to”, and to “experience development by testing if I can solve problems with my own solutions”.
“I play this game because I like to”… I think this is extremely hard actually. Because I am so serious about the game, I think it leaves little emotional room for such thoughts. I try to find new choices and options “because I like to”, but I also enter tournaments and try to get good results “because I like to” (= I want to win)… If I didn´t like it, I would not have been continuing playing this game for so long, and when that premise starts to become blurred, everything else associated with it becomes blurred as well.
“Experience development by testing if I can solve problems with my own solutions”… For specific situations, I now try to keep in mind that I should try out a certain choice, and instead of the win rate focus on what happens with that specific option.
So I managed to improve from having an unreasonable goal.
Translation by: @shinjinbaiken