Does getting really good at a game ruin the fun for you?

Lauren Morton

Staff member

Hey PC gamers, welcome back to another week of the chat log podcast. This week Mollie and I are talking with Morgan Park about the dubious honor of getting good. Now, I don't know if I've ever been genuinely good at a game in my life but these two both have experience climbing ranks and getting into the amateur competitive scene. As you've all heard since last year, Mollie has attended her fair share of Tekken tournaments and Morgan has history as an FPS player, climbing ranks in R6 Siege and in Hunt Showdown. They both say that getting competition level good at a game really changes the vibe.

Does getting good, really good, at a game ruin the fun?​

Have you ever gotten good enough at a game that your relationship to it, or to your friends who play with you, has changed? Do you start to dread playing when your rank is on the line like Mollie says? Do you have to navigate tricky friendship dynamics to grow as a team like Morgan has? Not me, I'm a casual for life! But what about all of you?
 
Does getting good, really good, at a game ruin the fun?

Not at all. I play to enjoy the gameplay—all else is secondary, and often detracts when 'bolted on' to tick a box—but getting good in a game I enjoy can add spice and an extra element.

What immediately comes to mind is a small word game called Amazing Pyramids Rebirth. Not many know this, but there was a world before video games—yes, really—and word games were a fav of mine in those pixel-free times. Still are of course, so when I found my first run thru APR put me in the leaderboard top 10, it stoked a competitive gene—which got me to #1 for ~2 years… currently #2, maybe I'll have to dust if off again!

Same with sport. Some I was very good at, others I sucked—enjoyed them all, but there was an added spice to winning regional finals and competing at national. Lower-level with other fun pursuits like Chess, Quiz, Bridge… being good enough to win little competitions never took from the enjoyment, and I would say always enhanced it.

So all that just naturally flowed into video games, I guess. If I play a game enough to be good at it, it's first and foremost because I enjoy the gameplay. So by my definition, getting good enhances the fun :)
 
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Zloth

Community Contributor
I haven't played real PvP at all seriously since Air Warrior, so we're talking around 1990. Even then, I didn't play it like normal people. I barely got into fighters. Instead, I would fly bombers to destroy airfields and troop transports to drop paratroopers on airfields to capture them. I flew alone, and mostly unarmed. If somebody noticed me and attacked, my only defense was to fly crazy low - like 8ft altitude - and hope the attacker drifts 10ft below me. So, basically, while everyone else was playing a first person shooter, I was playing a stealth game.

I got good at it, though. When I got online, my nation was probably going to get bigger.

LOL at 46:28.
 
I've never really gotten that good at anything but I did try for a bit. While I was doing well consistently it was fun but when you go on a losing streak it does take the wind out of your sails a bit. A game should be fun, but maybe fun for some people is in being good at something, fun's a pretty nebulous concept.

I think Esport type game interactions can be similar to actual sports psychologically, I know for certain once you hit more competitive levels of team sports the atmosphere can be pretty toxic against some opponents when they try to get into your head to get an advantage, although if you have a decent team then at least they should be on your side which might not be the case with randoms in vidya games.
 
I'm not particularly good at games but I love learning more about stuff and feeling more accomplished by advancing in skill. Example of this: In Last Epoch I tried my own build that made me survive up to empowered monoliths and then I needed help because my build was not viable enough. So I decided to look up some builds from people with way more experience to find not only a build I could use (and like) but also more in-depth information on how the different mechanics of the game work, stuff I knew less about before. This info will also help when (and if) I try out permadeath runs.

Therefore, I don't see getting better ruins anything for me instead it opens doors to excel at a higher level than I could before. Playing chess is a good example of this because the more I learn about different tactics the better I get and the more fun and interesting the game becomes.
 
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I don't stick with games long enough to get very good at them, nor do I care to.

Playing chess is a good example of this because the more I learn about different tactics the better I get and the more fun and interesting the game becomes.

I feel the exact opposite. The more I learn about chess, the more I feel restricted by all the rules I have to follow to play optimally. I feel a lot of games have a meta you have to follow which gives you very few choices on how you play. Instead it's all about how well you can execute the optimal strategy.
 
I feel a lot of games have a meta you have to follow which gives you very few choices on how you play. Instead it's all about how well you can execute the optimal strategy.
That is a good point and also why I would want to try making my own build/strategy instead of relying on one of the few builds that can get you deep into the endgame. I think the theorycrafting behind meta-builds can be valuable for learning more about game mechanics but that is what I would do with them. I also learned from past mistakes when I jumped on a Path Of Exile meta build that was completely out of my league when it came to the cost&time it would have taken me to get all the correct items. It also ties in with what @Colif said about playing for fun and not for being the best.
 
I feel restricted by all the rules I have to follow to play optimally

I agree. Civ4 is a good example for me. I never bothered with the top 2 difficulties—Immortal and Deity—because you had to play in a very artificial manner to have a decent shot. Knowing which techs the AI would favor, so you could research other ones to trade and catch up, changing resource spend sliders between 100% and 0% to optimize returns, etc. I eventually got to and stayed at Emperor where I could still play as I wanted to and be competitive.

I'm currently doing another Far Cry 5 playthru, where my play is different from most recommendations to use Buddies and kill alarms when tackling bases. As I get a Buddy, I take them out on random patrol to get their 10 kills for the perk points, and then drop them. My objective with bases is to capture them all undetected, so alarms don't matter—if I'm detected I get killed so I respawn and have another go.

Main thing as others have said: it's fun for me.

the more I learn about different tactics the better I get and the more fun and interesting the game becomes

I don't think that's the opposite of Pifanjr's point, both approaches are valid if they add to the experience. I'm already thinking of a future FC5 run where I bring 2 buddies along and capture all bases without making any kill myself :)
 
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Last epoch I have been following builds. I always do these days as many are built on experience using the systems long before I start playing game. I did with Grim Dawn as well.
The last epoch ones have been letting me understand moves I may not have chosen. But the ones on maxroll have shown one thing about this game... most of the builds they recommend are actually ranged.

Acolyte sub classes -
Necromancer - Uses pets to interface with monsters
Warlock - uses a curse on the ground to kill everything(it auto procs other spells she has), she has another attack but when most things die to that she doesn't really need to bother.

Primalist sub classes - all have a choice of pets to help fight but unlike Necromancer you have to help. Can't just run behind them and collect the drops.
Beastmaster- uses some pets to fight with them.
Druid has choices, you can play as a bear or you can choose a ranged form or a locust form that I haven't gotten to yet. Its the shapeshifting class that over comes the melee problem with pets and a ranged choice.

Sentinel sub classes -
Paladin build - uses a javelin to throw at people and paint a fire trail on ground to get monsters to walk over.

Mage subclasses -
Sorcerer & Runemaster (both mages) use ranged attacks (traditional for mages, want to keep a distance between you and everything.)

rogue subclasses -
Falconner uses a pet bird, looks pretty cool.
Marksman uses a bow.
Blademaster uses throwing daggers.


It is almost easier to list ones that don't use ranged...
Void knight is mostly melee
Forge guard has temporary pets that assist in battle but you have to hit things to summon them
Spellblade (mage who uses conjured weapons, think he hits things... I am not a great mage player. By time you swap to that subclass you in a zone you wish you didn't have to do on a brand new build you don't understand yet.)
Lich - AFAIK she uses melee. I can't quite understand that class. I should play her again. she was first shape shifter and I didn't notice their moves change in different forms.

At least ranged attacks work in LE, you can actually zoom out enough to make play field big enough to keep a distance. Diablo 4 failed in that aspect.
 
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Mar 9, 2024
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Well I can’t say about being too skilled at games.

But being myself usually poorly skilled at most games I play, I can say at least I don’t get easily bored of them…
 
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I played a lich last night and she is mostly ranged as well. Most of her moves are deep into tree so she running around with minions still but they die a lot as I haven't put any points into them.

Shaman/Druid minions don't all attack. Storm crows actually buff totems for both of them, so indirectly they attack everything. Wolves and spriggan attack things for you, though the second can also heal the group.

Most games I play don't have a difficulty choice. You get what you given and adapt to the situation... learn or just avoid it by making new characters every day... oh wait, that is just me. Runs away.
 
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I don't shy away from challenges, but at the same time, if a game forces you to spend a ton of time doing repetitive things just to level up needed gear for certain battles, I can't help but get bored along the way. I liked AC Origins for instance, but the repetitive grind to upgrade gear made it a game that was hard to come back to for another playthrough.

Ideally I like a game to reward the time you put into it to be good, by things like adding more and/or faster, more aggressive enemies on harder difficulty modes, and having enviro elements that change with the mode you're on too. For instance The Evil Within had faster, more aggressive enemies on Akumu mode, and disarming wall mines to use for upgrade scrap was nigh impossible due to a really fast timer and the need to stop it on a very narrow section of the dial.

It's games like these that make you innovate, like instead of disarming those mines, use distraction bottles to instead throw at them to blow them up when enemies are near after sprinting to attract them. You don't get the scrap, but you save ammo.

Lately I've been playing Jedi Survivor a lot. I like how the skill points you can find often have to be fought for in Legendary Enemy battles, or given a lot of thought as to how to get to them with platforming and enviro puzzles.

As for getting good ruining the fun, I would say no. Reason being, the kind of games that take a while to be good at also have enough in them to challenge you hard, and a lot of difficulty modes to progress through. Many also have added challenges if you opt to play New Game+ as well. In that sense these games also have a lot of replay value as they have a lot to offer and are less repetitive.

As for MP, which I don't play anymore as I'm 65, if getting good means it's too easy and boring, you probably just need to change the server you play on. In most MP games there's usually always someone that's better. Of course there IS a tipping point for ruined fun, it can be a fine line between too bored :sleep:, and too overwhelmed :oops:.
 
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PCGMollie

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I've never really gotten that good at anything but I did try for a bit. While I was doing well consistently it was fun but when you go on a losing streak it does take the wind out of your sails a bit. A game should be fun, but maybe fun for some people is in being good at something, fun's a pretty nebulous concept.

I think Esport type game interactions can be similar to actual sports psychologically, I know for certain once you hit more competitive levels of team sports the atmosphere can be pretty toxic against some opponents when they try to get into your head to get an advantage, although if you have a decent team then at least they should be on your side which might not be the case with randoms in vidya games.

Yeah, I think a lot of it comes down to finding the balance! Especially in competitive/PvP games, gotta make sure you're having fun and protecting your peace as you advance through the ranks and get better 😅 I definitely think I get some fun from the learning process and the early days of getting better, but it plateaus as things get a bit harder for sure 😅

I feel the exact opposite. The more I learn about chess, the more I feel restricted by all the rules I have to follow to play optimally. I feel a lot of games have a meta you have to follow which gives you very few choices on how you play. Instead it's all about how well you can execute the optimal strategy.

This is super interesting, and something I hadn't thought too much about before! I've felt this when I've beelined for meta builds/strategies in some of my JRPGs. A lot of the fun can often be in experimentation and sometimes playing in a certain way can stifle that.

As for MP, which I don't play anymore as I'm 65, if getting good means it's too easy and boring, you probably just need to change the server you play on. In most MP games there's usually always someone that's better. Of course there IS a tipping point for ruined fun, it can be a fine line between too bored :sleep:, and too overwhelmed :oops:.

Oh yeah, it can suck when you've spent a lot of hours trying to improve in a game only to hop on for a session and get your ass handed to you by everyone you come across. On the flip side, constantly steamrolling everyone isn't much fun either because there's nothing to be learned! A fine line is right, which makes it all the more satisfying when I get to meet people at my skill level, always reminds me why I enjoy trying to get better at games! 😸
 
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I don't play any competitive multiplayer games anymore, but I do recall back in my days of playing CS:GO or Overwatch really regularly, I would start to get stressed and frustrated if my rank started to drop. I enforced a self-imposed rule: two losses, and you're done for the night. I realised once I hit that level of frustration or despondancy from a loss, it was rare that I'd be able to compose myself and play well for a follow-up match.

I don't think there's any PvP games I would say I'm really good at. And even if I ever did think that, all it would take is one simple YouTube search to smack me back down to reality 😂 I do play a lot of single player games on their hardest difficulty (but generally on a second playthrough) and I do thoroughly enjoy the difficulty; I find there's always an immense amount of satisfaction in being forced to master a game's mechanics and applying that. Off the top of my head, Doom Eternal, the Resident Evil games, Hollow Knight... I loved my time with them on their hardest this-is bullshit-level difficulty - even if my colourful language at the time didn't make it sound like it 🤬

But like a lot of skills, if you don't use it regularly at the highest level, the body and mind starts to forget. So if you want to be the best at a game, you really need to be on it non-stop... and ain't nobody got time for that when there's such a huge and fantastic variety of games available 😅
 

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