Monday, February 3, 2014

Monday Question, February 3rd

Hello folks. We're going to do another weekly question. Responses are highly welcome, explanations for your answer also encouraged. This week's question is:

Would you rather:

Win a match but be unhappy with your performance?


Play the best you ever have, but lose?

See you tomorrow with a normal update.


  1. I would only really enjoy my best performance if I was simply outplayed by an opponent who also played extremely well. That performance could transfer to someone I could potentially outplay, and my strength as a player would have grown regardless. Also, it could be that I would've only played with my best available options because I played a stronger player.

    Regardless, I could never a be truly happy winning with a mediocre performance.

  2. As a bad/mediocre smash player, playing my best is way more important than winning. I get excited when I play at a higher level than I normally do, as it shows me my potential as a player. Winning with a poor performance isn't exciting, and it says more about the other player than it does about yourself.

    Understanding what possibilities await as I improve to consistently do whatever I did during an amazing performance makes me want to learn more, it helps me strive for greater things. Having a goal like this makes my competitive experience never go stale, and keeps it fun for me, and what would competition be without fun? If none us enjoyed our games/sports, what would be our reason to ever play or improve? Being better than other people at something nobody (including yourself) is interested in offers you nothing.

  3. As competitive as I am by nature, it seems I would always play for the win. Like, all the time. As such, my play style was very conservative in both friendlies and tournament; it caused my development to slow and eventually halt altogether (or so it seemed).

    As my mentality matured, however, I find experimenting and challenging my technical limits leads to the most consistent improvement -- at least for me. How can you find the answer to a question you don't have the courage to ask? Nowadays I don't play against my opponent so much as I use them to compete versus my past self. So I'd say playing my best and losing to an altogether better player would be most satisfying. The less I waste my opponent's time, the better.

  4. I would prefer to play my best and still lose.
    As a player trying to get better, I think there's an incredible amount to be learned from such a match.
    As gamers we all have those moments where things just click. Those moments that can be only described as "playing out of your mind" and I think that description is a pretty good fit; it almost feels like you're a completely different player than normal, like you're just not yourself but in a good way.
    I feel as if the loss in this scenario only creates a better experience to learn from. You were playing out of your mind or so to speak and you still came up just short. Thinking back on a match like this should pretty clearly identify faults in your play. Being the best match you've ever played should also show clearly the strengths you did have.

  5. I'm going to quote something from Yugioh and say this: A player can learn more from his defeats than from his victories. I think it's important to focus not so much on winning, but on the progress a player has made to get to where he/she is. Yes, a win is gratifying, but it won't mean much if he/she is unhappy with his/her overall performance. It stinks to lose, but how will anyone get better if they can't roll with the punches?

  6. A lot of what this question is asking seems to tangentially tie in to what kind of player we think we are. Mark Rosewater, the lead designer for MTG, came up with a few player "psychographic profiles" that I think are applicable to more than just card games.

    If you want the full story, look here: but otherwise, here's the gist of it: Timmy prefers flashy play, Johnny prefers experimental or personally appealing play, and Spike prefers winning. Timmy wants to get that quadruple knee off with crowds screaming, Johnny wants to try out a weird item build that no one's seen before, and Spike wants to hold that trophy above the broken corpses of his enemies. Now, few people lie perfectly in one camp; the other guys' conflicting responses reflect that most people would like more than one form of gratification from their performance.

    This information is also useful for introspection. Whenever people ask me for advice on their gameplay/strategy/training for card games or vidya, I usually try to figure out what sort of fulfillment they are searching for in that activity, then gear my suggestions to help them down their path. I would suggest to readers to determine for themselves their raison d'etre, then focus their efforts on prioritizing those specific desires and seeking out the proper support group(s).

    I'm sorry, it seems my long-windedness is contagious.

  7. I would chose to lose and play my best as well. But... From a different persepective though being unhappy about winning could be a good thing. It shows the path of improvement from a different angle. Instead of showing what you could possibly always play like, it shows what you need to get rid off. Negative aspescts of your mindset, too high expectations, being nervous. It could even show how good/bad you are in playing a specific matchup if your opponent is clearly weaker than you but you still choke a lot. So this situation shows different things to improve, but not everybody will face that situation. But some people probably do. A player learns more from a close victory than from one of his easy ones, even though no one should ever be unhappy about it, because it definitely shows weaknesses that he can improve on,

  8. I would definitely prefer to play at my peak and be beaten. I have come away from many tournament wins largely unsatisfied with my performance in general. The other issue with winning while playing poorly is it masks your deficiencies by degrees. It allows you to ignore aspects in need of improvement because "oh well I won it can't be that bad right?"

  9. For the simple reason that the options are not contrary in that the first already assumes a state of unhappiness while the second merely states some objective facts and not how one is feeling about it, i would go with the latter.

    There is a lot to be learned from losses and i even admire some people who manage to outplay me while i am actually "playing the game", i.e. when i am competing with my opponent and not my own shortcomings.

    If the first option were "Win a match without being at your best" then i would probably pick in certain scenarios e.g. if i just beat the world's best player without having to "go all out" that is not necessarily something to be unhappy about. Opposed to loosing when you have not played your best there are no lingering questions about "What would have happened if i had been able to perform at maximum capacity? Would i have still lost? How do i compare to the top players?". The only question that remains in this scenario is whether you would still have won when playing at your best, which is quite likely unless there were some outlandish mind games and expectations involved that only allowed you to win by playing what you yourself would consider to be sub-par.

  10. Depends. In Tourney, I'd rather win somehow, in friendlies, I wouldn't feel good about it, like when I only win because my opponent suicides.

  11. My initial reaction to this question is to pick to pay well and lose, but upon further thought, I decided both are about the same. I'll explain my initial reaction first:

    When I enter a (smash) tournament, I typically don't expect to win it all. Because of priorities, I can't put in as much time into practicing Melee as the top players seem to. So if I play really well and lose, how can I be mad at myself? I put up a good fight against someone who's probably just plain better than me (since they beat me at my best). I think I would enjoy that feeling over beating someone I'm probably better than. Or even if I'm like, playing Armada or Mango or something and I win because they SD'ed 4 times and I SD 2 or 3 times, I don't think the feeling would be very satisfying, though it'd be nice to be able to say I took a game off of those guys. There's also the scenario of playing my best and just getting stomped on, but in general, I still would probably enjoy the feeling of knowing I did my best. This was my initial reaction.

    I then thought about a previous post of yours titled something along the lines of "Playing on a Bell Curve." I thought thoughts like, "Why do I compete?" I decided that being able to put effort into polishing a skill and the satisfaction of seeing that improvement is why I do things, and competition is a way to measure that improvement. In short, that's pretty much why I do things/compete. But in your post, you said that we can think of how we perform in a situation as a bell curve, and that someone's skill would be said to be somewhere in the middle. So I decided that in both cases, playing well or playing bad, my skill level would be misrepresented.

    So, in conclusion, for the sake of emotions in the moment, I'd rather lose, but for my reasons of competition, either is meh.

  12. As I competed more often, I started caring less about winning or losing and now many events are “just another tournament” for me. It’s gotten to the point where I’m often harder on myself for losing than I am happy about winning, which might be indicative of having played too long, but that is another subject entirely. Smash has mostly turned into a personal road of improvement, which has made me a better player than when I was still preoccupied with worrying about getting top 5 at event X or how much I would hate losing to player Y.

    While I’ve never been as competitive in anything as I have been in smash, I think that for any frequent competitor in any discipline the focus shifts from putting importance on individual matches to overall improvement and seeing results from deliberate practice. In scientific research learning goals, as opposed to performance goals, are generally found to have better effects on long-term competence, whereas performance goals can even lead to limiting, failure-avoiding behaviour. In my experience many good smash players have had the realization that worrying about a specific performance is often detrimental; you can’t win them all and you will have good and bad days, as will your opponents.

    Being able to execute what you practiced and playing your absolute best, or even exceeding that, is often the most satisfying experience you can get out of entering a tournament and will leave you with no regrets, win or lose. That said, there are scenarios where even someone who isn’t that hungry would rather have the win over any “beautiful” loss, because getting first, beating a top level player or winning copious amounts of money are heavily valued and those are the statistics that go down in history moreso than how you did it. At what point you would choose that over personal satisfaction is obviously influenced by how much you care about the perception of others, or, sometimes, how much you need the money. To end with a personal answer: while I would generally prefer the loss where I played my best, there are rather extreme examples where I would take the ugly win (such as grand finals of APEX).

  13. Like any good reader of this blog, I would have to say the process is more important than the results.

    Still "playing the best I ever have" isn't always good enough. I want to constantly play a little better than that.

  14. Wobbles, you're an interesting fellow. This question is designed to intentionally bait people into choosing the latter, a shallow answer of modesty, humility, and being a good sport. However that answer comes with being satisfied with platueing, the bane of any player seeking improvement, as well as the common topic your blogs revolve around alleviating.

    I'd choose neither answer.

    I'd rather lose a set, as well as be unsatisfied with my performance.