My friends and family know that I crave competition. I usually attend fighting game tournaments at my local Microsoft Store, typically playing Mortal Kombat 11 or Injustice 2. Something is so exhilarating about competing against other gamers who share the same interest as myself.
When I’m not at those tournaments, I’m typically gaming at home with my Xbox crew. We play Destiny 2, Grand Theft Auto V, but more recently, Rainbow Six Siege. We play casual matches as a group, while I annoyingly keep asking to jump into ranked matches. My new routine is joining them in the casual playlist and then playing ranked on my own. I think you get the point: I’m having a blast competing.
However, that hunger for competition is becoming a double-edged sword.
Outside of competitive play, one of my passions as a gamer is collecting achievements. On my Xbox Live account, I have 403,800 Gamerscore. Since the Xbox 360 launch, I’ve been hunting achievements like it was my second job. It’s something I’m passionate about, even if it drives me insane from time to time. Well, Rainbow Six Siege is currently what I’m tackling when it comes to completing achievement lists. I started playing the shooter when it launched, but dropped off after my first crew stopped. During my downtime, Ubisoft actually changed some of the achievements, leading to my current stressful situation. I have one left to unlock, and it requires me to get five flawless victories in the ranked playlist.
I kept thinking to myself that the achievement wouldn’t be too difficult to unlock. Four rounds to a flawless victory and then rinse and repeat. I know the maps like the back of my hand, and I’m proficient in multiple operators. I just need to take it slow and communicate with my teammates to ensure victory. These are all things that I would consistently tell myself. Unfortunately, my experience trying to unlock this achievement would be nothing like I had imagined.
Can’t seal the deal
Not many Rainbow Six Siege players talk with each other online. While I speak to communicate with my team – hoping they haven’t muted me – I rarely get anyone talking back. It’s tough to play competitively when the team you’re on is silent and running around sporadically. With zero communication, it’s impossible to gauge which operator each player excels with. What if I’m a better Caveira than my teammate? She’s one of my favorite operators to use, but there are plenty of instances when I don’t pick her in time. When the round starts, those same people run into the objective and immediately get killed.
When things seem to go smoothly, that’s when I’m the one that starts to crack. There’s something about the competitive playlist that affects me in a way that the casual playlist doesn’t. It’s weird because there aren’t any leaderboards in Rainbow Six Siege. Ranked matches put you in various leagues, but that’s it. After the season is over, the ranks reset, and you repeat the process. When I’m playing casually with my friends, I don’t even get mad when the team loses. We accept the loss, jump back in, and try again.
In ranked, the feelings I experience are completely different. Losses make me angry, often chastising myself for the stupid mistakes that I made. What’s worse is the way it affects me mentally. There’s a sense of tension and anxiety, knowing that others are relying on you to win the match. I’m no stranger to death in Rainbow Six Siege. You can look at my kill/death ratio to find out that I’m not some virtuoso behind the gun. I’m flawed and make critical errors just like everyone else.
The stress comes from the fact that my teammates can watch me once they die, and talk to me if they have a microphone. There’s a dreadful feeling knowing that people are judging your every move, even when they’re dead. However, my least favorite thing is when multiple teammates are telling me where enemies are, even though there are sometimes conflicting reports. Deciding who to believe can be the matter between victory or defeat.
Is Competitive Rainbow Six Siege worth it if it drives me crazy?
To quote Eminem, “palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy”: that’s how I feel when playing Rainbow Six Siege in ranked. No matter how prepared I am, the nerves get to me, and I can’t follow through in the end. This feeling isn’t exclusive to Siege. I don’t get Victory Royales in Fortnite, and I’ve yet to get a Chicken Dinner in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. When there’s something on the line, my mental balance slowly takes a hit. I want fun, but I also want to be challenged. The best players that I’ll encounter on Xbox are all in the competitive playlist.
The dilemma I’m in is whether I should endure my desire to play with the best at the risk of my personal well-being. I love collecting achievements, and I love the thrill of competition, but getting older is making me realize a lot about myself that I didn’t know before. Mental health isn’t something to take likely. I’ve suffered through that and anxiety for almost a year, but it’s tough to give up competitive play when it’s been a part of my gaming career for over a decade.
The question is: Should I give up who I am, if that means I’ll enjoy games more? Or do I continue seeking competition knowing full well that it’ll probably bring me stress, more so than fun? It’s a tough decision to make, but like many athletes say, no pain, no game!
What do you think? Does ranked gameplay give you anxiety? Let me know in the comments.