I haven't talked a lot about video games I play on this blog. Mostly it's because they change all the time, and most of the old hits are old hits, meaning everyone's played them already. In the one case that that -isn't- the problem, it's for a much simpler reason. I'm a League player. We've got a bunch of League players on this board, but the entire MOBA genre is one of the most hotly-contested, opinionated sacks of bile on the internet. Stating opinions about which one I like the most would inevitably lead to me having to close comments on my blog.
So this isn't about that. This is about a facet of MOBA games that, yes, applies in a lesser extent to most other competitive video games. And also to poker.
"Tilt" is a poker term adapted to online gaming culture. Most of you who've played a MOBA game in the last four years have probably heard it pandered about a bit. Essentially, it's a psychological and chemical reaction caused when your brain feels that there is a threat to you, but your senses can't -find- that threat. In this case, it's the threat of losing something, whether it's the game, your own self-respect, ranking within your division, the opinions of your friends, or just thirty minutes of your time. I feel like I struggle with tilt a bit more than most people, but that's probably just cognitive bias talking. Most people get tilted pretty regularly, especially and specifically if they're playing to -win-.
Tilt is a real thing. It's not just some buzzword that people throw around when they want to justify why they keep losing games, or why the enemy team is doing so poorly. It's an instinctive reaction to something that threatens you. You believe, at some subconscious level, that losing will be harmful to you. Your fight-or-flight reflex kicks in, pumping all sorts of helpful pheromones to your brain, which is told that there's some threat and you should be either running or defending yourself. The issue is that your brain can't see anything threatening you, because you're just playing a damn video game...
...Which leads to all of those chemicals stewing in your head as you have no physical way of venting them. You can't run, because it's a game. You can't fight, because it's a game. You've got a backup of responses and reactions that you can't contend with, which physically, psychologically, -medically- affects your judgement. When on tilt, you make horrible decisions more often, get upset with things you wouldn't, and in general just play much worse than you normally would in that situation. Poker players lose big-time when they go on tilt, and a big part of professional poker is making sure that you aren't on tilt, your opponents are, and that you exploit that to your advantage.
Tilt is one of those things that has plagued the League community for years, but it's only been in the last few years that people have started to really throw the term around liberally. There are entire videos devoted to explaining tilt and how to avoid it, and recently "being tilted" cost a professional team their shot at the regional finals. This team, who went 17/1 in the normal season, lost 3/0 to the lowest-seeded team because they got shut down in one game, and simply couldn't drag themselves out of their own messed-up headspace.
This season, I've actually been getting into ranked play for probably the first time ever, and today I had a couple of super-tilting games. Note, please, that I -won- both of these games. It was my team that won them for me, of course. I got carried like mad, but I'm currently taking a deep breath and stepping back because I'm still tilted, despite the wins. I was doing badly. I was making bad decisions, I was failing at my job, and if the entire team had been playing like me, we would have lost both games, easily. I kept myself silent, muted my team, and tried to play off of what they were doing by looking at their actions rather than by listening to their words (which might have been quite upsetting, if I hadn't muted them). It seemed to have worked, but honestly, I'm not going to get into the habit of trying that again.
The more I get into ranked, the more eager I seem to be violently tilted after just one or two bad games. I have a feeling that if I had been doing ranked consistently for these last few years, I might be more accustomed to it, and it might not register in my subconscious as such a big deal. It does, though, and now I have to contend with chemical imbalances in my head brought on by a miscommunication between perception and reality every time I get into queue. The alternative, of course, is to stop playing, but then how will I ever get better? How will I ever -see myself- improving?
This blog has no argument, no message I'm trying to convey or hearts I'm trying to sway. It's not a statement for or against League, for or against ranked play, or anything like that. It's just something I'm writing to calm myself down after a couple of stressful games, and maybe a bit of wishful thinking at the prospect of maybe not reacting like this in the future. I can only hope, etc.