How to recover from competitive gaming fatigue: Know when to take breaks

I’ve played fighting games my whole life in every sense of the word. Starting in the early 2000s when I was a kid, I would spend hours playing with friends or by arcade mode in games like Capcom vs. SNK 2And Marvel vs. Capcom 2And, of course Super Smash Bros. a series. It was a simpler, more innocent time – a time when push-buttons were the norm and Training mode was an alien concept. Then I discovered the fighting game community and realized I was hot trash.

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One day, as if by fate, I was scrolling through YouTube and saw two videos. One was created by Maximilian Dood, respected fighting game content creator as part of his “Assist Me” instructional video series, and the other was a match video from Evo, the largest fighting game tournament. Both showed my favorite fighting game ever, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Suddenly, I was thrust into a new world. I realized that if I wanted to improve, I had to basically treat games like homework. And, sir, I wanted extra credit so badly.

While eventually dropped marvel 3 From my playlist out of frustration (that game wasn’t kind to my little one, and I still had no clue how to use Training Mode), this experience led me into the larger world of competitive fighting games. I started going to tournaments starting in 2015 and I was really off with those classics.”God giveBut even though I started to grow my basic skills, I never really found my stride. There was never a time back then when I would really describe myself as good, or even good. And to be honest with myself, that went on for a while. very long.

Street Fighter 5's Kane shoots from his hands and feet while doing an aerial high kick

Image: Capcom

From then until now Street Fighter 5 I came out, went nonstop at fighting games and took it maybe too seriously. I was grinding training mode combos like it was my job, but for me, it just wasn’t enough. While I was definitely growing my skills in the genre bit by bit, the lack of big jumps in the level of gameplay was frustrating and frustrating. I was directly obsessed with my own development and forced myself to play in hopes of developing into all the players I had been looking for for so long. Thanks to this obsession, I ended up falling into a spiral of tying my self-esteem to my skill level at a video game, and eventually, really wasted time enjoying my time playing games — even with my friends.

So what did you do? Well, after years I finally fell for it Street Fighter 5, I took a year break from the entire genre. It was not a conscious decision. It just happened because I was so exhausted. Yes, I’ve been playing with friends here and there, but the days of training, playing ranked matches online, and getting into tournaments are over for a whole year. A year later, when I got back into the genre, I legitimately wanted to slap myself, because I knew this break was just what I needed all along.

in TeamUSA interviewFamily physician and TrueSport expert, Dr. Gilboa explained how overtraining can end up tying one’s identity with that sport and one’s success in it: “We don’t teach them how to exercise sustainably. They think the only way to be good is to do something to the exclusion of everything else. […] We confine an athlete’s sense of identity so deeply that if they’re not an athlete in that one sport, they have no idea who they are.” In other words, they lose the sense that the journey is just as important as the destination. And that’s just as true in the world of competitive gaming.

The King of Fighters' Kyo Kusanagi delivers 15 epic face punches in a match against Iori Yagami

Image: SNK Corporation

It’s not just me who’s had this experience. I’ve seen similar types of player burnout many times in the world of fighting and competitive games as a whole. However, unlike traditional sports, few players see excessive competition as a problem. When you want to get better at a video game, you might think the best way is to be in your room alone and do the same training mode drills for weeks on end, or lose matches all day trying to get better. Like physical exercise, this starts to take a psychological toll.

I learned this the hard way and ended up in a bad place with the genre for quite some time. But like magic, when I came back from my break, I found I was better than ever. Suddenly, something clicked, and I was doing really well in my new favorite fighter of the generation, The king of fighters 15. I was looking at situations differently, I was recognizing patterns, I was doing readings, and I was winning against people who are really good at this genre. And when I started getting a hint of exhaustion, I took another break.

Breaks are important for growth. Whether you’re doing it by playing another game, trying another activity, or just living life away from the mission of your choice, you need to know when to hit the pause button. And this doesn’t just apply to fighting games or competitive games. Taking time away from something that takes a lot of time to learn might sound like an odd idea, sure. But it’s something that may end up saving your mental health — while also helping you get better in the process.

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