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Geek Time | March 3, 2015

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The Competitive Mindset: Part 1

Hi, my name’s Naixin, and this is the first article in a series concerning Competitive Gaming.

Today, we’ll explore the differences between the casual living room gamers and the true competitive gamers.  Before getting started, it’s worth noting that I am not a top professional in any of the games I play.  However, I have been playing games competitively for several years, and have friends (Jason ‘Mew2King’ Zimmermen, a professional Super Smash Brothers: Melee player and Todd Anderson, a professional in Magic: The Gathering) in the professional gaming scene.

This article is not about how to be a top professional. Instead, it will describe how to embrace the competitive mindset in order to steadily improve in your game, whatever it may be.

Let’s begin by introducing terms.

A common term heard within the gaming community is the word ‘scrub.’  A ‘scrub’ may be defined as any player who is not competitive at his or her game.  All players begin as a scrubs, but they soon divide into two categories: scrubs who are trying to get better, and “noobs.”

“Noobs”  are players who do not care about getting better, and choose to see the game as a casual experience. While there’s nothing wrong in being a casual player, over time, the line between casual and competitive players becomes more defined. It’s important to note that the skill level between players has no effect on whether they are casual or competitive. Instead, what separates players is their mindset in approaching the game.

Casual players often complain that competitive players are ‘cheap’ when they play. They argue that competitive gamers, by exploiting every single option and choosing the best one for each particular situation, ruin the fun of the game. This is what I like to refer to as the ‘scrub mentality’: the mentality that an invisible set of rules exist that govern how the game should be played.

In reality, competitive players play a very different game from casual players. The difference is the competitive mindset: ‘play to win’. Competitive players use the optimal option in every situation.  They use every single advantage offered in order to win the game.  Casuals may consider competitive tactics ‘cheap’, but the competitive player realizes that those are the best options for the given situation.

Honor doesn’t exist in the competitive when one is playing to win.  The end results don’t care if one player used “more skill” or “cooler moves” than the other to win.  In competitive gaming, all that matters is who won.  The basketball scoreboard doesn’t care whether Kobe Bryant does a normal layup or a 720 degree-under-the-leg-back-flip-dunk. It’s still only two points.

Playing to win. That is the competitive mindset.


  1. Mr. Green

    As Harry Flynn proved, there truly is no honor among thieves.

    The only problem I have with the competitive/casual gaming mindset is the fractures it causes within the gaming community. Too many “competitive” gamers put down casual gamers as they are using games as what they are, merely forms of entertainment. Likewise, when “casual” gamers call strategies cheap, they don’t realize what games are, merely arenas where individuals fight to the death.

  2. Matīss

    If about the honor, then there is no need to discard it, because honor in its concept is an earned respect.
    Problem is that casual players having “fun” is one of their main values and therefore for them “victory” is often even not important at all. Therefore casual players are expected to be frusturated and express disrespect when losing against competitive players, because players with those opposite mindsets should not be playing against each other in the first place. Same frusturation and disrespect would happen if the casual player wins and makes the competitive player feel humiliated.

    To maintain respect, you simply have to play against opponents whose can apprechiate your effort and strive for victory – against fellow competitive players, whose plays for the same reason – to win.
    In a battle between competitive players it’s disrespectful to not play seriously, because the main value for competitive players is to win.

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