Smash Forward 2: Managing Stress

You're 3 minutes into a match and your opponent has spent their time annoying the crap out of you. The only thing on your mind is how hard you're throwing your controller after the set. This game is so dumb. Why are they playing like this? Don't they know this is NOT fun?

Dirty Sonic mains, right?

Whether or not we see certain playstyles enjoyable will never stop them from being in fighting games. In fact, they're designed for that purpose. At first glance, a large majority of players will not see a zoning or camping character as fun. Setting up a fortress on one side of the screen and throwing an arsenal of weapons and moves at the opponent without close range contact may not appeal to a good amount of people. However, attributes like ranged combat is how some characters are designed, and how we perceive what's going on in front of us is always our choice.

In anything deemed competitive, there is always a strategy that someone can be upset with, as a player or spectator. As a player, though, we don't really want to deal with a strategy we may not agree with ourselves. While we attempt to combat controversial gameplay, it's natural to become frustrated and stressed with the situation. So how do we manage this within ourselves? How can we turn sour defeat into sweet victory?

Get comfortable, we're going to time.

As drastic and uncharacteristic as that sounds, there is wisdom behind slow or long games. Inherently, longer games are more than just projectiles flying everywhere. There are more neutral interactions in a longer game, disguised within the arrows and bombs a Link player is covering the screen with. So let's look deeper into the Link design specifically.

  • Slower running and character speed
  • Disjointed and ranged attacks due to sword
  • 3 different projectiles: Arrows, Bombs, Boomerang
  • Heavy character weight
  • Decent, if not sub par recovery.
  • Tether grab

These characteristics, coupled with high knockback moves, can already describe a tank-like archetype of design. This generally means that Link will be using projectiles to deal damage so that he doesn't have to commit to his hard-hitting but high risk moves due to their recovery frames afterwards. This also means Link will be pitching a tent on one side of the stage and camping his little Hyrule heart container to its fullest content.

This can definitely be very annoying to anyone on the other side. As there is counterplay in game, today we want to tackle our mindset.

In order to do this, we must first accept it for what it is. Though we may not personally enjoy or agree with a playstyle doesn't help us improve or get past said gameplay. We as players have to accept that something is in the game, its viability, and develop our counterplay. This actually adds depth to a competitive game, and doesn't only apply to zoning and camping playstyles. Characters with strong and low risk offensive attributes can be just as frustrating, making us feel like we don't have answers within our own play, which again, is a purposeful design. However, it is always important to keep a calm and level head when dealing with stressful situations.

When we become angered, our thought process can narrow, which directly affects our gameplay and hurt our ability to create answers to situations. Personally, I handle my own stress levels by listening to music while I play. It keeps me relaxed but focused. For others, this can be distracting, but for me it creates an environment where I excel. Players do this differently. Some deal with stress by taking occasional drinks of water in between games. Others tackle stress head on by constantly playing against players or characters that they have trouble with. Try looking away from the screen for a few seconds even, and focus on your breathing and heart rate.

Every player is different in their big or small ways, and the answer to my predicament may not be yours. Don't be discouraged, though. This is just another part of conquering yourself and steering towards developing your ability to conquer others as you encounter the variety of gameplay. The answers are always out there, and inside yourself. 

Pick up your controller, and stay strong.

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