My friend texted me excitedly to let me know that a new game, Nine to Five, was having a free weekend on Steam. The game is a 3x3x3 team-based shooter. My friend was saying how with just one more person we could play all weekend. He was immediately discouraged when I told him that I would in no way play. It has been 6 years since I've last played a competitive shooter.
Back in undergrad, I fell in with my university's CS:GO club, and eventually their ESports Team. I played in the Intramural league as well as the castor for the team when they'd play other schools. It was tons of fun and, at a time when CS:GO was blowing up in popularity, meant that a lot of people on campus recognized me (or at least my voice and casting name.
This eventually led to me meeting with a few students who were ready to form their own team in an online league. After playing several games they thought I'd be a perfect fit and brought me on board as their 5th player. The next several months were a bit of a blur.
My days consisted of going to classes, going to work, and then coming home in the evening for 4-6 hours of CS:GO. Our first few hours would be us going over strats on different maps (mapping smokes, planning entries and defences, etc). and the final two hours would be game time. I would regularly be up into the early hours practicing with them.
The game became increasingly frustrating as we moved up in level. This was no longer a fun competitive shooter to play with friends; if we lost, it was because we weren't good enough, and that meant more practice and more strategies.
Unfortunately, after a few months on the team, I ended up in the hospital on an unrelated issue. I required emergency surgery on my right arm, and as a result I wouldn't have the same movement for a while afterwards. I had to inform the team I needed to leave as moving the mouse quickly wasn't possible. The team took a step back for a bit after that, and we slowly started losing touch as each player wanted something different; either going to different online teams or trying to join other teams at the university.
The issue is that, ever since then, I've refused to play a competitive shooter with my friends.
First, having dedicated so much time to it beforehand, I simply find no more fun in it. It became a chore I needed to complete for the night; only 6 hours and then I can go play another game or watch tv or eat. Second, is the fact that if I rejoin the game, there might not be a way for me to turn off my competitive side to have fun with my friends. Beforehand, if a player wasn't playing well it meant a breakdown of strategies and us going over hours of video to see what the player was doing wrong and what they could do better. If I played with my friends then, it would easily result in me micro-managing their every move- something I didn't want to do to my friends. I was used to playing in an environment where I had one roll, and my teammates would follow through. I couldn't function as my own person within the game anymore.
Most importantly, however, is the toxicity. I hated the community after so much time being competitive. This was no longer friends having a game, like the Intramural tournaments. When playing online, there were accusations of cheating (both outside and between players on our team) as well as countless hateful messages and poor sportsmanship both from other players and other teammates. It absolutely tarnished the experience for me, and while I understand that others can put up with it, it's not an environment I'd want to put myself back into.
It seems as if every few months my friend comes to me with a new competitive shooter. If it's not Nine to Five its Rainbow Six or COD or something else. As someone who has been gaming since dial-up, it's disappointing to watch as the trends of the gaming world get dragged through the mud, similar to the way that DayZ and Dead Island marked the beginning of the zombie genre, resulting in a bunch of half-baked and a few solid games that usually recycled similar mechanics and gameplay loops.
If there's one thing I'd want to emphasize from this post, it's the environment around competitive shooters and how, for some gamers, it's an absolute no-go. I'd be interested to hear whether other people feel the same way, primarily because having played CS:GO for so long my mind did a 180 afterwards.
Regardless, that's my story, and how after playing CS:GO semi-pro, I've given up on competitive shooters.
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