One of my favorite sports-isms is “Styles make fights.“
Sure, it came from, and applies mostly, to boxing, but I think that it certainly can be adapted to almost any sport. Even virtual ones.
In the virtual sports world, different styles can mean anything from a west coast offense in Madden to a run & gun style in NBA2K to a gegenpress tactic in PES. Even within those more generalized styles, there are more subtle nuances. I won’t go into detail on those, but in sports gaming, there is certainly more than one way to play, and play effectively.
So if there are so many ways to play, why does it feel like, especially in the online arenas of sports games, people are only using one or two different methods?
The short answer is the Herm Edwards answer: “You play to win the game,” but is that really the only point of online gaming? To vanquish your opponent by any means necessary? While I know that most people I’ve been matched up with in sports games certainly go by this mantra, is it the best way to go about playing?
Let me pose this question: why do you play video games? Do you play to escape from everyday life? Do you play for pure enjoyment? There are millions of reasons why people play video games. I personally play to have fun and give myself a little distraction from adulting. Speaking as someone who played FIFA Ultimate Team for longer than I should have, I can say that game makers are masters at getting you hooked. I can’t count on both hands the number of people I came into contact with that would say “I need to play FUT Champs this weekend,” or “I need to play 5 more rivals games so I can get this player card.” I argue that at this need stage, it’s well beyond an enjoyment activity and has turned into an addiction. What is the point in playing a game out of obligation, not even getting a remote sense of enjoyment?
While I believe that it is a good time to be a sports gamer for the most part, I also believe that it’s a terrible time to be a part of sports gaming communities. I remember when the term “toxic” used to only refer to actual harmful substances, and not people (get off my lawn). Now it’s a part of daily lexicon when talking about video games. People have become so hellbent on getting more, winning more, being better than the other guy, that we’ve lost the plot.
With all of that being said, this is all the reason that we’ve decided to bring back United Leagues. To try and give sports gamers who are tired of win-at-all-costs gaming, who are bored with playing against the same tactics in every game, some place to call home. Different styles should be embraced, not belittled. It’s a nice feeling to have a community that is built on the diversity that is inherent in our world, and I firmly believe that it’s a strength, not a weakness. Save the hyper-competitive nonsense for lobbies, here at UL we are committed to sportsmanship, community, and competition. In that order. It’s ok to want to win, but if that desire supersedes the actual spirit of the sport or the community, then it doesn’t belong here.
Remember, styles make fights.