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Psychology of Gamers
by Mocha October 23 2011, 6:07 PM
Psychology of Gamers

  

Introduction


Hey AiB, it's been awhile since I've written anything for you guys, the last article being a ladder update. Hopefully I'll be able to write more of those for you in the future, however, with this article, I'm hoping to take a step further and have a bit more variety in my writing. That, and applying my interests in Psychology, gaming, and writing all into one.
I’m working on getting a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and I'm currently taking a couple of Psychology classes at my university. One of them is Social Psychology, which is basically about how mental processes and behavior are influenced by other people. What does this have to do with Brawl?

Everything!

Whether you realize it or not, Brawlers are constantly being influenced by others. People can influence them to play a certain character, to not play a certain character, to abuse a move, to use it less because they are getting punished for it, to intentionally annoy each other so that they play worse, to encourage - I mean, this could go on and on. I don't think some of us realize just how much another individual can change how we play.

There are several factors that play a huge role in how people influence us or in how we play.

 Personality



Lifestory: For example, when Brawl first came out, I used my usual favorite two mains that I had used in Melee. But I wanted to toy around with the other characters, especially the newer ones. I picked up Meta Knight at the time, and actually enjoyed using him because I liked the idea of an amazing aerial character - not even knowing back then that his ground game was nothing to scoff at either. Meta Knight was my 'pocket character' or my 'third main', however, it didn't take long before people started to complain to me about how broken he was, and not just to me, but to everyone in general. I was conflicted; did I really want to keep using this character who had supposedly caused so much harm? Or should I pick up another pocket character and keep using my mains?

I had in fact, become so discouraged about Meta Knight, that I grew to dislike him to the point where I felt 'cheap' when I used him. I wasn't even taking into account that there would be other people who had no problem using Meta Knight, and that they would play cheap too. My mentality was strict and stubborn, "Well just because they play cheap, it doesn't mean I have to." I've found that I wasn't the only player with this train of thought. Some of these people ended up using characters that were hindered by the onslaught of higher tiers/MK, others used high tiers themselves and went far in the tournament scene, yet continued to struggle with MK. Whatever the case was, the very subject of Meta Knight would have me look away and shake my head. I didn't stop using him because I felt like it. It was clear that in this situation, other people had influenced me to make that decision.


---

Again, this goes back to personality. You can put someone else in my shoes, and they wouldn't have given a rat's rear about people complaining about Meta Knight. In fact, others would become even more encouraged to use him - may that be to irritate others, may that be to win, or maybe they just have fun with the character.

People with the 'pleasing personality', or the knack for wanting to please others without much consideration into what you want - can be taken advantage of by other players so that they don't play to their full potential. If someone complains about how retarded your upsmash is, then the pleasing person will limit the usage because they don't want to be a bother for that person. If someone complains that all you do is grab, then you find yourself grabbing considerably less, and then you wonder why you've started playing worse all the sudden.

If you don't care about pleasing others, you'll keep playing how you've been doing, because it's working for you. Or you'll abuse the move(s) that have been bothering your opponent, and find yourself 2 or 3-stocking them, because you're exploiting their frustration. This of course, doesn't apply to everyone, and not every opponent is going to be raging between matches. But these are just some examples to show how personalities alone can be influenced by others, and how they affect your gameplay. There are also players with good sportsmanship, who won't try to put the other down, and have either little or no complaining. When both players display this, then both can usually play well against each other as far as psychologically well is concerned. This does not mean that a Ganon player is going to be consistently beating Sheik simply because he's mentally focused and not being bothered during the game.


Emotions

 


You’ve probably heard of stories where people ‘throw their controller’ or break their plasma television after losing to their opponent. Perhaps they even got physically violent with their opponent. These people tend to do poor in a tournament environment, and possibly get disqualified, depending on the degree of aggression. These players also have a knack for being ‘bad’ players, not because they lack skill per say, but because they’re usually too stubborn to try and work on overcoming their frustration and learn from their mistakes. These players can be of any age, however can be common among children and teenagers who are first adjusting to competitive play. This immature attitude either matures itself with time, and the player learns that they need to be more self-controlled. Or this attitude continues, and the player eventually gives up on the game and moves onto something else. One can argue that video games can help contribute to someone’s normally aggressive behavior and actually help mature the player not just as a gamer, but a person.

Another emotion that can be a result of doing badly against an opponent is depression, and a constant attack on their own self esteem. In some ways, this can be more dangerous than being very angry. These individuals sometimes have more in their life going on than just getting sad over a game – they have problems in the home environment, with parents, siblings, students at school, or all of these. They are generally extroverts online (friendly and active), and introverts otherwise. Gaming can be considered an ‘escape’ for them from the constant gloomy environment they’re succumbed in. These gamers sometimes have a low self-esteem, and are the ones that are very hard on themselves about almost anything, especially the games they play, because they put so much dedication into them. These are the ones that say ‘I suck.’ or ‘I don’t know why you would bother with playing someone as bad as me.’ They are sometimes criticized for taking the game ‘too seriously’ or for being ‘too emo.’  I believe these players can overcome this misery with encouragement from others, and a growing self-need to feel more confident with themselves in general. Mocking and bringing these gamers down is a poor way to help. Pointing out to them that a game shouldn’t be taken so seriously isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it’s more like how you do this. Be clear and honest, but be kinder with your words. No, this doesn’t mean you should overdo it and become the sponge to soak in all their problems constantly, but being a bit more delicate and understanding won’t kill you.

Finally, there are people who don’t really get enraged or depressed, and are either pretty neutral between matches, or they’ll laugh off their losses and move on. These gamers tend to be friendly and have a good sense of humor. They may not have the perfect social life, but they don’t usually threaten to kill anyone, or themselves – for losing in a game. This isn’t implying that all gamers with this pleasant attitude are saints. However, these gamers have the potential to become excellent examples and role models for other gamers who struggle with their emotions. These gamers can become decent tournament hosts, moderators, and other leadership positions.



Habits

   


Lifestory: When I went to Hobo 33, a local tournament here in Texas, I observed the gamers there and studied how they played; what helped them focus, what distracted them, etc. Out of all the players there, one guy stood out to me among them. He was the only player there who had his headphones on, listening to music, while playing. For some people, this would be incredibly distracting from the game. I was curious about this, so after I played a match with him, I asked him how he was able to focus on the game. He lowered his head phones around his neck, and said, “Oh no, this is exactly how I’m able to focus.”

Habits can seem unusual to some people, and perfectly normal to others. Habits have the potential to affect game play in such a way that an entire match can make a difference to the individual. I have come across many different habits people have, as well as my own when it comes to playing Brawl. I specifically pointed out Brawl, because I have my own set of particular habits for this game, compared to other games.

The size of a television for example, can affect game play to some players. People who are used to playing on a larger screen, and with amazing graphics, will find themselves squinting and shaking their head at a television twice or more smaller than what they’re used to during a tournament. Likewise, a player who’s used to playing on a smaller screen will find larger televisions too ‘big’, and will be overwhelmed by how much space there is on the screen, even though the space doesn’t literally change the size of the stages themselves. Others, like me, are used to many television sizes, and aren’t affected much by the changes, while others are able to adapt fairly quickly, whether they’re used to or not – the television size making no difference in how they play.

Sounds for me make a huge deal in how I play. Similarly to the example I provided in this section, the guy at the tournament was able to focus only with his headphones on. Other players can’t concentrate like this at all. Although I like to have music when I play, I would rather the music be part of the game itself, or a custom music on the game (though it can be argued that some custom songs are distracting) rather than having my headphones on, blocking out all other sounds. I find myself very ‘attached’ to the sounds of the game, as in the actual sounds; jumping, powershielding, moves, etc. For some strange reason, if I don’t hear those sounds while I’m playing, I seem to play more uncomfortable. Even things like listening to the buttons of my controller being tapped and having rumble on my controller whenever I use a smash have an effect in how I play. I’ve grown so used to these things, that playing otherwise would throw me off.

Character and stage textures, or some kind of hack in the game can also contribute to how someone plays. For some people, character and stage hacks hardly make any difference. For others, they find it distracting, and are either more comfortable with their own hacks, or no hacks. Then of course, those that have gotten too used to their hacks, may have a difficult time with the default game’s textures. In addition to textures however, even a default game’s color can cause some interesting results on the player. You sometimes hear of people say, ‘Oh, I lost because I didn’t use my red Falcon.’ (which to many people, are considered johns) or stuff like, ‘I HAVE to be blue Pikachu to do well with him.’ While some people would laugh at these silly statements, for some players, having their desired color is almost like another character for them.


Conclusion

 



I bet a couple of the factors that I pointed out are merely glimpses of just how things can affect game play. I feel like these are, however, the more obvious ones when you glance at it from a general and psychological perspective. Keep in mind that none of this, especially in the ‘Emotions’ section, are things set in stone, and that everyone who has a particular lifestyle and personality are always like this. I realize that everyone is different, and that someone within a harsh environment, for example, can actually be extremely cheerful people. I’m just looking at this from a typical standpoint, based on my experiences, both of my own and other people’s experiences, and applying this with what I’ve learned and with what I’m still learning in Psychology. I hope you have all learned something from this, or at least, I hope this has made you think about interesting things you don’t normally think about. Or even ask yourself a couple of questions. What helps you play well? What distracts you? How do you make a comeback?

I also hope that I can someday make some kind of guide, or a helpful essay giving some suggestions to people in how they can improve as gamers, which, as I stated before, can even go as far as to improve themselves as a person.

Comments

Zodi wrote at 6:08 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
1st! Hyes!
Sorg wrote at 6:14 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
I play better in my room.
Peterdinosaurous wrote at 6:22 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
good read
Pizza wrote at 6:22 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
Interesting and enjoyable read.
XXXPEACEXXX wrote at 6:23 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
Awesome read.
Prof3ssor MGW wrote at 6:32 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
I have to stand up & play
I can't listen to music (w/ headphones) while I'm playing
GhaudePhaede010 wrote at 6:35 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
This is spectacular. We need more articles like this in the fgc as a whole. Keep up the great work.
EnhancedMegaIke wrote at 6:35 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
dumb.
Jun wrote at 6:37 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
I enjoyed the article because it's informative.

I didn't enjoy the article because it's unrefined. A lot of tangetial and/or unnecessary stuff (ex. end of 2nd paragraph in emotion section). The language was too casual for such a deep subject, but I assume you intended it that way for the reading audience.
Karin wrote at 6:48 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
Well this opened my eyes just a bit from the Habits section. Thank you.
Horsy wrote at 6:50 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
Mocha, this article is so very true! I think you detailed everything out! Keep up the great works! icon_smile
GOG wrote at 6:58 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
Very good read.
EnhancedMegaIke wrote at 8:07 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
*Dumb how people rage over games lol*
Luckytime wrote at 8:29 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
Slap "Psychology Degree" next to things people have been passing off as johns since 2008, and suddenly it's intuitive and informative. I agree 100% with what you've written here, but I just wish people would consider some of these factors instead of being insensitive and ridiculing a person for seemingly making excuses.
Illmatic. wrote at 8:42 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
Cool.

Nice blog.
Zodi wrote at 8:48 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
First first first
Hamek wrote at 9:00 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
A few grammatical errors (I.E. in the first paragraph having a period instead of a comma after using either), but overall informative, and it seems to be accurate based on my (minute amount of) psychological knowledge.
Luigisama wrote at 9:05 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
I'm a neutral. meow :3
BrokenSpaghetti wrote at 9:11 PM on Oct 23, 2011 :
Excellent info.

Good read.