A sudden realization hit me today. It hit me hard, hard enough to make me double over in pain and bring tears to my eyes. It made me rethink a few things in my life. It made me come to conclusions that will affect not just my gameplay, my aspirations to be a pro, but hell, my life in general.
That realization was my dogs head. She headbutted me. Like, really super hard........in the crotch.
Immediately, I started asking myself questions and pointing fingers.
"Why did this just happen?"
"God she's a stupid dog."
"I should have pushed her away when she got excited..."
"There's no way that should have happened, it was my food and she was being dumb..."
Excuses. All sorts of excuses. I cried, I yelled at my dog for headbutting me in the babymaker, and then I sat down to eat my sandwich, mad at her for ruining my lunch by inflicting what I am pretty sure is severe injury right before I enjoyed my grilled cheese....and it dawned on me. She wasn't to blame...she was being a dog. She smelled grilled cheese, I taunted her and got her excited, and then boom, falcon headbutt.
It was entirely, 100% my fault. I then tried to figure out what I did wrong, then I realized that wasn't important. My nagging incessantness to figure out the why's and how's has ruled me for the majority of my adult life. I must always have an answer. But I didn't realize that at that exact moment, my outlook was changing. I didn't realize the basic lesson I learned here. I don't need to assess the situation, I did something wrong, and now I know not to do it again.
Since I started playing FPS games again, I have been on and off when it comes to good play. I can have four terrible outings in a row where I am getting creamed, taken at every corner, standing in wide open spots. And I blame everything.
"I just sank an entire clip into that guy! How did I not kill him?"
"Man, I should of just wall jumped out of that room instead of duking it out."
"C'mon, my crosshairs where RIGHT ON THAT GUY!!!!"
All excuses. I'm sure if you have been with me on Mumble, you've heard one of these, or something similar, over your speakers when my name lights up.
For that, I must apologize.
You see, I realize now what I was going on. I was so focused on being the best, being top of the scoreboard, that I would rush into rooms, try to get the first kill, get cool kills that I can brag about, raise my K//D so that I can feel accomplished. And it never fails, I'm near the bottom of the board, 11 deaths, 4 kills.
I realize now what I need to do going forward. I am going to work on the faults that I have in game, including my aim (or, more accurately, my tracking) and my situational awareness. More importantly, I need to focus on being a soldier and not a warrior. There is an article here on vVv called Pros Versus Amateurs, which discusses the Warrior/Soldier mentality in competitive games.
Essentially, the Warrior is in it for the fame and glory. They want people to see that they are the best, they live for the excitement of battle and coming out on top. The want the adoration of those around them and the acceptance that follows. The solider, on the other hand, is more focused on winning as a team, no matter how he does himself. This may mean that he is the best, but it may also mean he was the smartest, or the fastest. Fill a team with warriors in Titanfall, and you have 6 people who just want a high kill count and low death count, not winning or losing. Fill a team with Soldiers in Titanfall, and you have a group who will stick together, work together and prevail every singly time.
This whole time, my whole life, I've been a warrior. I talk about me, my accomplishments. I talk about what I accomplished in the original Call of Duty, being ranked 2nd place. Sure, it's a great honor and an acheivement I am proud of. However, why is it I never mention that my team won many tournaments, or that there were many games where a teammate carried us to victory, or that we were a well tuned machine? Because the warrior mentality that I have won't allow me to. It wants you to know what I have done, what I have accomplished. Screw the team, look at me.
I don't want to be a warrior anymore. I want to be a soldier. Late last week and early this week, I had the privilege of playing with vVvFireWater. I played the best I have ever played at this game. We won 90% of the time. I even led the kill counts a few times. I wasn't even trying, I was just having fun, and I was so focused on what Fire was saying: We needed to win. That was what was important. I focused on winning, and I did better. I was a solider.
So, moving forward, I know what my faults are. Tracking and awareness. I will work on those, practice those, all while ensuring my team wins, however we need to win.
Also, I've learned to not get my dog excited over grilled cheese sandwiches...and to wear a cup at all times.