Monday, August 23, 2010


You might think that computer games are a pretty passive hobby, that you sit there and click buttons and that your body doesn't get overly involved in the outcome.  Such is not the case for me.  I have been playing Starcraft 2 online some and doing a lot of player vs. player (PVP) fights and I can hardly believe how pumped up I get during games.  I sweat like crazy, my hands shake and I play terribly because I can hardly think with all the adrenalin pounding through my system.  To really play a game well requires a clear mind and focus; I am about as far from that game state as is possible in most of my matches.  When I play against computer opponents I am much more calm and relaxed, the game proceeds mostly as I plan it to and I follow the path I decided on before the game started.  Against players things go crazy!  I try all kinds of weird stuff and end up playing rather poorly overall.  Despite the bad play, shaky hands and sweats... I LOVE it.

I have only a 11/10 record so far but it seems to me that I ended up placed in the right league.  I am Platinum, second from the top, and I think the level of play there is about right for me, despite the ridiculous way I got placed there.  The people I play against are at least pretty beatable for me and it is clear both sides are trying things seen on professional replays and not really doing it right yet.  I am still very new to it all though, my impression that I am competent enough to be here may yet be wrong.

The thing that gets me most though is how different the experience is from playing against the computer on a set scenario.  I think that the difference may be that PVP matches are recorded forever; my win/loss record is out there for the world to see and can be looked up by anyone who cares to know whereas my solo play is entirely my own and no one knows of my failures.  It might also be that playing against people is simply not predictable.  The computer has a limited set of moves and I know with certainty that I can figure those out and victory is inevitable; people don't act this way at all.  No matter how well I have the main battle locked up my opponents can still do something really unexpected and wreck me and the worry and anticipation of what exactly my opponent is going to try this time gives me an adrenalin rush that is a wonder.  That knowledge that no matter how well I play, no matter what I do I cannot deal with all possibilities is a powerful one.

I haven't even really gotten into the mental games yet, and that is another whole level of play.  Knowing exactly what sorts of attacks can come from particular setups and convincing the opponent that a particular type of play is coming when in fact it is something entirely different are huge in professional play and I am sure I will eventually delve that deep.  Doing so seems like it will require me to settle down and drop the level of energy though - being absolutely wired for every single ladder match can't be good for learning and calculated mind games.  Question is, how I do I tone down the chemical soup I unleash on myself during a game?  Can I retain that intense rush and the accompanying good feelings while losing the shaky play?  The answer is probably yes, but the method may well involve playing an awful lot of Starcraft.

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