Behind the Curtain: The spirit of competition

Craig Withers
C. Withers|12.27.08

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Behind the Curtain: The spirit of competition
I was going to write a little about the differences between making better games, and making games better.

The more I thought about it though, the more I realised that a topic like that doesn't really have a place here at Behind the Curtain.

You can take that statement either to mean that an intellectual, investigative piece doesn't really fit the mood of an opinion-based weekly column; or that an intellectual, investigative piece would simply be too hard. Your choice. Also, it's Christmas, I'm Scottish, so I've been drinking a lot.

Instead, I got to thinking about competition. I'm not really competitive at all, you see, so most games (computer and real-life) which involve Vs. modes or PvP hold little appeal to me.I'm a dyed in the wool gamer. I don't run, play soccer football, or work out if I can possibly avoid it. That might have something to do with my aversion to competition in my games. It may not, and maybe I'm just a carebear at heart, but it bears mentioning.

When I'm playing MMOs, I enjoy the social aspect. While PUGing is normally akin to a punishment from God, there's the odd occasion where a random group of strangers come together and end up actively helping each other out for no other reason than because they want to or because it feels right at the time.

Moments like a Tauren Shaman randomly running by and saving me when I've pulled one too many mobs, or happening to meet another player on the same quest who offers to group up instead of fighting for the same mobs – these are moments which define MMOs for me.

Don't misunderstand me – I can appreciate the appeal of PvP as much as the next person. The extra layer of excitement added when you know you're playing against real people and not another AI-scripted mob. I don't seek it out though – although PvP (usually) involves you working with other people, you're doing it at the expense of someone else.

This isn't a new thing – it's not the spirit of the season, or the goodwill cheer that's got me feeling all soft and squishy inside – I always feel that way. I know there are people who refuse to get into competitive events because they know they'll go overboard with them, but I'm not one of them. I know it's not always possible for there to be a win/win scenario, but it won't stop me trying.

What about you? Do you prefer to help or hinder? Does someone have to lose for you to win, or are you a big softie like me? You should know how the comments work by now.

Oh yes, pic unrelated, still awesome
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