Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Knock Down and Drag Out

Hello. My name is Timothy and I have a problem.

I'm addicted to Brawling.

It's a daily ritual around the apartment, between myself, Dan and Steven. Literally a day doesn't pass in which we don't devote at least a full hour to playing the game and often play for long beyond even that. I'm not going to say that we're especially good at the game, as who's to know, after playing repeatedly in such a shallow pool, but I will at least admit that we're awfully serious about it.

We probably shouldn't be. In all honesty, it ought to remain a simple pass time and potentially, for Dan and Steven anyway, it is. Yet, for some unknowable reason, Super Smash Brothers, Brawl particularly, turns me into a rage demon.

My mind clouds. I begin to extrapolate attitudes and behaviors for my opponents I wouldn't logically imagine my friends capable of. Every blow is an insult, every defeat an injustice that only another game can avenge. I rail and rave against anything I consider unfair or unsportsmanlike (certain items, certain arenas, certain movesets, certain characters) – anything that doesn't fit into my increasingly narrow view of fair and balanced play.

The closest comparison I can imagine would be a gambling addiction, only in place of wagered money, imagine testosterone. I'm not an overly competitive person, but Brawl really manages to bring out the worst in me.

In my defense, I was introduced to the game with a bevy of extremely competitive people, people who played the game mercilessly and without remorse, to whom victory meant utter supremacy and to whom defeat implied a considerable drop in intelligence. Having been conditioned so harshly against defeat, and into such rigid morality, I have a difficult time not only controlling my temper, but even letting loose and enjoying myself.

Most sessions end with at least one person (typically me) tossing a controller or storming off in a huff. A few moments of cooling down and everything's wordlessly repaired, of course – once the machine is off, no one's willing to sacrifice a friendship over such a ridiculous and artificial conflict but it never takes more than one match for everything to turn cutthroat.

Do we stop playing, though? Of course not.

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