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30 days ago
Yo dudes. Good briefly catching up with some of you yesterday and having a few games. The balance changes are also really cool and it looks like the game is in a very interesting place right now.

I wanted to mention something that I was finally able to put into words to UltraGojira after yesterday's games, which is causing me a little bit of hesitation playing any further (disclaimer: I'm not looking for people to convince me otherwise btw, just want to express this shit).

I had a good long break from ZK. What was it, half a year or so? When I left, I was quite stressed and in a somewhat dark mindframe. During the break, I've become more and more resilient and optimistic, to the point of having very little stress at all. You could say life's very good right now. When I returned and played yesterday's games, my defeat to ATOSTIC really highlighted the point of this post:

My adrenaline was through the roof - and I was able to notice it very sharply because I hadn't felt it in so long. This wasn't an emotional or logical process, it was pure base instinct; raw fight or flight. And it was intense, the "come-down" effect lasting some hours after the game. If I recall back to before I quit ZK, every day had 3-4 (less intense) bursts of adrenaline like this too.

Thinking it over, I've come to the conclusion that triggering the body's stress receptors like this so frequently may have been a big factor in why I was in a stressed and dark place in my life before quitting. Not because of any external events in my life (things were fine), but for the simple fact that I was constantly flooding my body with stress hormones. Adrenaline is good for getting you through a bad situation, but the after effects are not good for you at all. And if you are doing it every day, numerous times a day, subconsciously your system honestly believes that you are under attack or expects imminent danger - all the time - where there is none.

Now, this shit might not be as prominent for younger folks, people just in it for fun or those completely dull of wit - but I'm drawing the line in the sand for myself and saying that it just ain't good for me. I love ZK and being competitive on it TOO much for it to be healthy. Ain't that a curveball?

Anyway, tie this anecdote into the ladder anxiety debate and do with it what you will. Maybe it will help someone reflect on their own relationship with competitive gaming.
+18 / -1


30 days ago
quote:
My adrenaline was through the roof - and I was able to notice it very sharply because I hadn't felt it in so long. This wasn't an emotional or logical process, it was pure base instinct; raw fight or flight. And it was intense, the "come-down" effect lasting some hours after the game. If I recall back to before I quit ZK, every day had 3-4 (less intense) bursts of adrenaline like this too.


This was totally the case for me too, playing RTS at high levels is adrenaline city. I stopped playing ZK chiefly because I enjoyed it so much, it was stopping me from getting on with other parts of life.
+0 / -0
30 days ago
quote:
I love ZK and being competitive on it TOO much for it to be healthy. Ain't that a curveball?


Not really, no. There's a limit to how seriously one should take any game without crossing the line of it becoming a full-time job.
+2 / -0
30 days ago
Great post Sparkles. That's something like what I feel too when going 1v1 in a matchup that I know I can win and that I really want to win. It's the feeling of slowly slipping off a cliff and trying to think at double time of a way not to lose.

It's one of the reasons that I like lobsterpot - because some of the responsibility of winning or losing has been taken out of my hands. Sometimes I play well and lose, and sometimes I do relatively little and win. It helped me cultivate a more 'zen' attitude.

Ultimately we need to remember that it's just a game, that elo is imaginary internet points that do absolutely nothing for us IRL, and that losing isn't an indictment of ourselves as people :D

Good to see you back :)
+6 / -0

30 days ago
FIrankHuixtocihuatl - It's not so much that it became a job (more of a passion). It's more like an inevitable consequence of having landed on the shores of serious/high tier play. The effects and oddities of that journey are another topic altogether, and I've already had conversations about with other people in that place.

ZArankAstran - You totally get it and I think I finally understand why you play the way that you do now. It's easy to uncomplicate the matter and say that it's just a game; but not all games are equal. For a casual player, it's toy soldiers. For someone who naturally graduated from toy soldiers and was forced up the ladder, it becomes a very well made framework for the expression of your mental prowess, strategical thinking, focus and reaction time. Hard to think of a more demanding (non-physical) exercise. So for me it's less "take ZK less seriously" and more "maybe I'd be better off just shooting some hoops".
+1 / -0
30 days ago
You can look at the problem from other angles as well. The high stress can be a problem in very competitive situations it helps until some point, becomes bad after. From other solo-sports, top-tier players have to fight also their emotions rather than only their opponent.

So, ZK can be a playground where you can try to learn to control your emotions. You do not need to do it if you do not feel like to, but besides your two options I would see "learn to control emotions to be more efficient". This can have a good impact in other situations as well...
+0 / -0

30 days ago
Yeah I get what you're saying particularly with the first paragraph. Instinctual responses to a conflict are just that though malric - instinctual, not emotional. It comes from a lower level of consciousness.

I'm generally upbeat, calm and optimistic as a person, remaining this way throughout a high adrenaline match of zero k. Even so, my system doesn't care what mood I'm in - that stress hormone process is going to take place anyway.

So a better question for me to put out is "How would you override / prevent adrenaline response from happening if it has little to do with your mood?". Or, can you convince me that it is infact emotional?
+0 / -1
30 days ago
I look for that stress as a distraction usually. I know whatever im thinking about can be put aside if im 100% focused on a 1v1 or something. It works pretty well as a distraction but i'd never considered how it actually makes me feel, and now you mention it, it feels pretty shitty. I like to think theres some way to play and not get so involved that it creates a physical response, but if you want to play competitively against people of your own skill level its probably not possible.

I think this stress is offset by the feeling of climbing the skill curve and getting into a positive feedback loop from improving. As soon as you hit a wall (or take a break) you suddenly only have the stress and none of the payoff and things get miserable really quickly.


+1 / -0
So I play very few 1-on-1 games, preferring FFA and TEAMS to them. In TEAMS, as ZArankAstran has already said, part of the responsibility is shifted to the team - although I must say that when you are TOP ELO in the team, you have to carry weaker players and all sorts of RUrankFirepluk-s to win.

In FFA, the responsibility is yours, but you initially understand that your chances of winning are < < 50% if you are a blue+ company and in this situation it is perfectly normal to lose most of the games, so its no stress too, only fun xD
+3 / -0
30 days ago
quote:
It's not so much that it became a job (more of a passion). It's more like an inevitable consequence of having landed on the shores of serious/high tier play. The effects and oddities of that journey are another topic altogether, and I've already had conversations about with other people in that place.


What I meant by job is gaming becoming a source of income in some fashion. Once that happens, you pay a lot more attention on your mental and physical well-being in relation to it. No matter how high you get while still playing 'casually', you simply don't have the same type of incentive to notice the effects on your health. This makes overexertion a very real risk for people who take gaming seriously but are still considered non-pro gamers. Once you get too far out of bounds of that which is healthy, it's very difficult to reel back in.

As far as high tier play goes, I've climbed to the top in two games. It's pretty much impossible for me to get any mental issues, but I drove myself physically too hard. Thanks to that I achieved carpal tunnel. While one could say it's healed, there are some lifelong effects and an ever-present chance of it flaring up again if I strain my wrist too much.
+1 / -0
30 days ago
@ Sparkles you should read The Player of Games by Iain M Banks if you like (kinda grim) Sci-fi. It explores the idea of a society ruled by an extremely competitive and complicated game called Azad, and where the best game players are the most important people, their prowess at the game being exactly their worth as people.
+2 / -0
30 days ago
Its a very good point that it should be treated like a job if you are playing competitively. Its easy to fool yourself into trying to have it both ways, but if you want to play for 40+ hours a week you very much need 3 meals a day, steady sleep, not drinking beer at 9am, etc. I've been a degenerate most of my life so i've never actually tried this but I suspect I could get a higher rank with less actual gametime and more of my sanity if I had all these ducks in a row before starting.
+1 / -0

30 days ago
No doubt that you could isaach. If you treated ZK like a job though, I hope there would be adequate payout in it for you. The only lasting payout I got for my small time outside of Godde's shadow was insight and hard truths. I am happy that I used it to acheive ZK nirvana though.
+0 / -0
30 days ago
quote:
So a better question for me to put out is "How would you override / prevent adrenaline response from happening if it has little to do with your mood?". Or, can you convince me that it is infact emotional?

That might be a good question for a doctor/psychologist. To quote wikipedia "fight-or-flight response ... is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival". This is about perception, and if you perceive loosing in ZK as harmful, then it might have to do more with emotions than instincts.

Personally I prefer team games because for me it is nicest when I can contribute to a nice team (Firepluk included, if he specifies what he plans). Also, for me some adrenaline rushes are good as a reset from other problems (ex: work, etc.) and probably safer than doing really dangerous stuff, but I never reach the levels of stress you describe.

Or maybe you just have much higher adrenaline response than average and you should generally keep out of stress. You are the best one to know...
+0 / -0
ZK 1v1 absolutely is adrenaline city. I still have nightmares about enemy suddenly doing something unexpected from the fog of war, and i haven't played for months (with one samogon-inspired exception).

The visceral - and evidenced by its dream-presence, unconscious - feeling of the will to overcome embeds into the very flesh, and refuses to ever dilute. It may acquiesce for a while, but you know it's there, hungry to pwn whenever you let it smell blood.

(Could ZK be a valuable tool for lucidity?)

My personal solution is to play when/if i can attain and maintain a sufficient level of detachment in the flow. Then it's like i become the process, and if the process results defeat, the process still was worth processing - and also can be fairly painlessly debugged later: you're not dissecting yourself, you're dissecting the Process which you wereglaived into during that full moon.

(Unfortunately, that jhana is not always readily attainable).

Upvoted OP for "UltraGojira". Can't upvote second time for analysis, but would do that as well.
+3 / -0

30 days ago
Deep shit Anarchid but makes complete sense. Maybe there's some form of detachment trance ritual we can tap into to that over-rides adrenaline. On the flip side, it seems like an extreme measure to go to in order to mitigate the downsides of playing a match of ZK heheh!

malric your response about playing in team games seems to be the consensus among those not looking to fry their system and maybe it's worth dipping into for me. Have to say I enjoyed the 3v3 tournaments we had previously.

Also thanks for contributing your insight to the topic. I should clarify though that the effect happens whether I'm likely to win or lose, so it's not attached to that so much. It seems more to be because the game is a constant rotation of states of advantage/disadvantage and tension/threat. Like astran touched upon, it could be more pronounced during close-skill high stakes encounters; but it's ever present regardless.

It would be cool to circumvent it, but like I mentioned in the OP - at least for the time being - I see the absence of ZK as way healthier for me in the long term.
+1 / -1
Any anxiety I get during a tense game is ultimate because the game is close-- my opponent and I are essentially equally matched, or if either of us has a small advantage it's not insurmountable. If I'm getting stomped by a player way stronger than me I actually feel way more relaxed-- I have nothing to prove, and I can use this as a learning opportunity to see what he's doing better than me.

When it's closer I start getting more tense, because I know I can possibly win, and I want my opponent to know I'm better than them. I, of course, know I'm better than my opponent, but the game is the only way I can communicate that. If I lose, especially to a stupid mistake or a misclick, that can get me a little peeved. Usually if I get in a sour mood it's only for a few minutes, though, so if you feel like you're giving yourself mild depression from playing Zero-K that's definitely something to talk about with your shrink.
+0 / -0

30 days ago
Yeah totally Majoras. Funnily enough, when you get into the top 20, the only people you play are people who are close in skill - so it's always on and poppin' like that.

Depression no, this thread is about the downsides of adrenal response, with one reference to their possible contribution to a less positive time in my life since passed.
+0 / -0
30 days ago
Hypothetical question, out of curiosity: if the game would be turn based like (30 seconds to give commands, 1 minute for the units to execute them, in which you can only watch), do you think you would have the same response? (I understand that it would be a different game like Chess-K or something)
+1 / -0
quote:
Maybe there's some form of detachment trance ritual we can tap into to that over-rides adrenaline. On the flip side, it seems like an extreme measure to go to in order to mitigate the downsides of playing a match of ZK heheh!

If such a thing existed, shouldn't you want it regardless of ZK?

(if you meet a Godde on the road, pwn he)

quote:
Hypothetical question, out of curiosity: if the game would be turn based like (30 seconds to give commands, 1 minute for the units to execute them, in which you can only watch), do you think you would have the same response? (I understand that it would be a different game like Chess-K or something)

I've had enough wesnoth nightmares. I don't talk about it a lot but it's true.

(But wesnoth's structured randomness gives them a different flavor. In my dreams, the sky is shattered and creation ceases without a sound, and the fucking adept fails to kill the drake flare again and again).
+5 / -0
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