Ever since I saw that @enjar and the Archdruid gaming community decided to host a contest about emotional gaming moments I’ve been thinking on what to write about. It’s been hard to pick something because our lives are full of emotions, I can’t count how many times I’ve screamed: “This boss is unfair, what the F... was the developer thinking?!?!?!?” while tossing my controller on the bed; or all those times I’ve seriously considered to get a sledgehammer and crush my portable console… it would be so refreshing… and don’t get me started on the dreaded game over screen that signals that you’ve lost several hours of your life…
Yeah, gaming can be frustrating, tiring, and can certainly give more than a few nasty feelings; but that’s nothing compared to the joy of winning. Some games are focused on exploration, but most have an objective and an ending; and clearing them, seeing that ending is an experience that triumphs over all the other negative emotions. For me the ultimate joy was winning a PvP, short for player versus player, tournament; there simply aren’t words to describe that feeling when you win, it’s really spectacular.
The setting, the players, the pressure…
Have you heard about Yu-gi-oh? It’s a really popular card game that allows for really unique combinations and gameplay capabilities. The game is a bit complicated to fully explain but basically you have a deck of at least 40 cards with different effects from a list of over 7000 cards (last time I checked), 7000 cards with unique effects and capabilities and you have to choose at least 40, at most 80… yet with only 40 you can make some really impressive combos and combinations. You draw 5 cards at the beginning and take turns with your opponent, drawing one card at the beginning of the turn, after that you summon monsters, set traps or use magic cards. The objective is to deal enough damage to your opponent to reduce their life, starting at 8000 (or 4000 depending on the rules), down to 0 using your monsters to attack your enemy. The game has many more rules but these are the essential to understanding it and enjoying it.
One day when playing monster hunter with a group of friends we decided to make a tournament and eventually decided to make one about the Yu-gi-oh available for the PlayStation Portable (PSP) in one month from then. We decided to use tournament rules and force participants to swap decks between matches, since we we’re just a group of poor gamers we made the entry fee be just 1 dollar, a symbolic amount. Now… the thing is that all 12 of us were veterans, I’m talking of the kind of veterans that have a save data with 999:59:59 hours of gameplay and all trophies… The competition was going to be fierce, there was no doubt in my mind, not even a single one of us would hold back, yet not a single one of us had played Yu-gi-oh against one another before, no one knew strengths and weaknesses, but we all knew it was going to be awesome.
I spent the month checking back and forth, looking at my 40 cards from each deck, thinking combinations, organizing strategies, preparing countermeasures, and beating the artificial intelligence from the game time and time again. No amount of preparation was enough though… I could never have been prepared for…
I still remember it clearly, it was a Sunday morning 10 years ago, the sky was clear, the tournament was starting at 9:00 AM, we were 12 players and we would play in league style to filter 4 finalists who would then play in full tournament rules using 2 out of 3 match style. The tournament started, we were standing, holding our PSPs, looking at our decks, looking at each other’s faces, trying to predict what would happen, what decks would we be facing… and then the first round started: I brought up my ace deck, a blackwing deck, from the beginning and I still remember my opponent had an out of play deck.
I remember my opponent starting and setting up two cards… and I was so happy thinking I had lucked out and he didn’t draw good cards… turns out I was wrong, my deck was incredibly weak against his, and I noticed it as soon as I attacked. At that moment I remember thinking loud in my head: “Oh F..., I’m soooooooooo going to lose this match”; and I remember thinking that at least 30 times more during the tournament…
However, whether to skill or due to raw pure luck I reached the grand final and my opponent was the host of the tournament and the owner of the house. We sat outside in the green, relying on the moon and the light from our PSPs for illumination and he said to me:
Whatever happens, no hard feelings, ok?
And then it started, blackwings against wind-up toys, and all three matches were nothing short of epic, I won the first one in seven rounds, got destroyed in the second match in five round and the last round lasted a whole 33 rounds!!!
My heart was beating so fast there, my blood pumping through my veins, my brain thinking all sorts of strategies, my eyes didn’t even blink, it was total focus, not even a single word was said during that last match, both of us didn’t give up an inch, it was intense. Every time I thought: “This is it” he countered me, there was no opening, no weak point, and in the end I won with only 50 points of life… but I won, my entire being was on fire as I stood up and screamed: “YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
It was pure bliss, there is no comparison, a 12-hour competition full of extremely strong rivals that also are your friends… and like any good winner in a tournament with friends, I took the prize money and invited them all to pizza, laughing about all the close calls I had during the entire tournament.
Fun fact: That year in the world championship the winning deck was a blackwing deck and they got heavily nerfed afterwards. One of the runner-ups was a wind-up deck and those got nerfed a lot too, though we didn't have internet back then and didn't discover it until many years later :D
Above & beyond: Plus Ultra!
As amazing as this experience was for me, it’s nothing compared to when we won the dota 2 tournament back in my university against the reigning champions… why? Because happiness, when shared, multiplies itself.
It all started in the third year of my university studies; back then most university studies played Defense of the Ancients, AKA DoTA, over a Local Area Network (LAN). I wasn’t much interested in DoTA back then because it looked like a drug or a cult, everyone who played it got hooked and recommended it to more people, but it looked really boring and repetitive from my outside perspective. At some point I ran out of games to play and decided to have a friend teach me how to play DoTA, I was welcomed to the cult almost instantly and was given all sort of tutorials and invited to tons of games with them.
Image source: Warcraft 3 DoTA loading screen
DoTA is another apparently simple game, and the rules itself are simple: “Destroy the opposing team’s ancient”; the ancient, however, is protected and you must cooperate with your allies to destroy it while also defending your own ancient from the invasion of the enemy players. Both teams are composed of five players who pick a hero and go to battle using that hero; all heroes are different and have unique skills, and some are better suited at some tasks than others.
The game itself wasn’t much fun to be honest, the interface was clunky and the animations were pretty bad, plus the gameplay was pretty repetitive and sometimes tedious. Yet the fact that it was a team game made all the difference, we cried together, we screamed together, we got frustrated together, we went for pizza together and of course we fought amongst us a lot. Those times are some of the most valuable times I’ve had in my life, hanging with my friends together, facing all sorts of challenges together; it’s true that bonds grow stronger when under pressure, trust me on that statement.
Introducing Dota 2
Everything, and I mean everything changed when Valve released Dota 2; the interface was no longer clunky, the animations and graphics were top-notch, and the gameplay had been smoothed out by adding new gameplay fixes and balancing heroes. It didn’t take long for us to get a way to play dota 2 over the LAN and prepare our own TeamSpeak servers for communicating and creating matches. TeamSpeak is a server very much like discord that allows people to chat using text or voice and we used it frequently to organize matches between teams… that’s why I was really surprised when I was invited to join a team in there.
I thought: “what could go wrong? Let’s join them and see how everything plays out” and played a few games with them… they were good, REALLY good, we just were unable to lose, so we were always celebrating victories, one day after another. And then it happened, I got invited to the first LAN overnight party, for those who don’t know about this, it’s basically a couple of dudes (with the occasional dudette) reunited in one place with computers playing games over a local network all the night, often accompanied with alcohol or drugs for those who like that. Anyways, it was the first time I would go to such an event and I was REALLY excited, mostly because it would be the first time the full team would reunite and play together. I remember being received by our captain [W0lv3r1nE] and taking a seat, seeing the faces of the people I used to play every day: our ace w00z, our main support Nairda and the secondary support Gaara.
It then started: 12 consecutive victories against our opponents, not a single defeat, we were unstoppable, we were on fire and we were at the top of our game indeed. Celebrations were constant, screams of joy filled our room, and screams of terror, depression and frustration filled the room of our opponents… However that was only practice, we were practicing as a team for the moment of truth; the moment when we faced Sylar’s team, the reigning and indisputable champions from DoTA.
The moment of truth
We started the tournament, and I started using the bristleback (the hero from the image above) to face off against three really tough opponents on my line. It was 3 vs 1 and I got totally destroyed… my pride and morale were literally at the lowest points since I had started playing because I had been defeated 16 times... and then my captain told me:
You depressed?, take a look at their offlaner’s score
He had died 19 times, and had life half the money and experience I had… it was the first time I had teammates that I could trust… people who got my back and were more than willing to bail me out of a bad situation. We exchanged blows for a while, but in the end our captain carried the team to victory and it was amazing; I had died a LOT, but we were all smiling and celebrating in the end, it was the first time we had obtained a team win in a tournament.
Not to boast, but I don’t think I’ve seen a team as strong as ours in all the years I’ve played after that; we crushed the tournament, ZERO losses, we got to the final and utterly and completely destroyed Sylar and his team, up to the point he rage-quitted midway of the second match swearing and tossing all sort of curses. That moment, right there… to me that was equal to winning the International, the greatest Dota 2 tournament in the world
The audience clapping, the high fives, the screams of joy, the jumps of excitement, the prize money and right to call ourselves champions… no words can express it, I can say that it was amazing, that I’ve never felt that much excitement and that we couldn’t order pizzas because it was too late, but it would be a gross understatement.
Just like I said above, joy is better when shared, and that’s what I tried to share with this post: the joy I felt. These are moments I wouldn’t change for anything and that live with me even after all these years; the joy of cooperating with friends to overcome tough challenges is something wonderful that I’ve come to appreciate a lot as a gamer. Trying to relive these moments and putting them in written format was actually a very refreshing experience for me and I’d like to once again thank @enjar and the Archdruid gaming community for bringing forward such a great theme for a contest.
If you want to participate in the contest or appreciate some of the other entries you can refer to the contest link here: https://steemit.com/archdruidcontest/@enjar/40-steem-in-prizes-contest-emotional-game-moments
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