My Confidence Journey: Learning To Appreciate A Great Fighter

Recently I’ve found my interests in games are changing. Due to the events of last year, things have caused me to spend more time alone and in that isolation, I found myself learning to appreciate different things including different kinds of video games. During those quarantine months I got into VR games (which initially I didn’t care for), single player games, and of course fighting games. To be perfectly clear though, I’ve always liked fighting games but I’ve never fully understood them, nor had I built enough skill or confidence in myself to play them well. Last year I also started watching Dragon Ball Super for the second time and it reignited an interest in the series that stood with me long after the show ended. Since I had already been a fan of Dragon Ball FighterZ, it was easy for me to revisit the game and just appreciate being able to control those characters and almost relive those intense fights from the show.

I had a blast getting back into the game however, this time it was different. I became connected to the characters in a new way which opened up a hunger to learn how to play the game better; a challenge that I could never overcome in the past. Playing DBFZ put me into this new focus to learn my favorite characters’ moves and begin building upon basic one button inputs. Since the game has a very approachable “easy to pick up, difficult to master” set of game play mechanics, it was very easy to start doing cool things right away. Over time though, I noticed that you can do more than just one button combinations, and it started to get easier to memorize more complex moves the more I played. As well, I started enjoying the game more than I ever have, and I noticed that each time I played, I was learning something new. Perhaps it was the new mechanic discovery that kept me hooked into the game, and pushed me to try out new character combinations, but eventually I just accepted that I truly liked the game overall, despite winning or losing matches.

The Road To Building Confidence

Before even getting comfortable with fighting games this way, I grappled with my emotions when losing in fighting games for a long time. Since I can remember I have always hated losing things, no matter how small, and I think many people can relate. Losing for me signified much more than just the loss of the game. For me a loss was like a personal reflection of my failures as a player or even as a human being. I’ve never fully understood where this exaggerated and negative perspective came from but I knew it was something I had to address eventually. Since I’ve been playing video games most of my life, this is my most honed skill, or ability, losing made me feel like I’ve wasted all of that time and it was worthless to put in any of that effort.

This is a dangerous part of gaming or entering into any kind of challenge with a winner or loser. Some people just cannot handle the loss and others can’t seem to handle the win with respect to their opponent. Depending on a player’s personality they can sometimes lose their temper which causes them to overstep boundaries and disrespect their opponents. As well depending on its severity this can end friendships and offend others. Other times the loser can retreat from the loss and go down a spiral of self destructive thoughts like I did. However, through playing fighting games I’ve also learned to overcome that frustration and anger. Before my newfound interest in DBFZ, back in 2019, I had a few months at my job were I was scheduled for overnight shifts. During those overnight shifts there would be hours of dead time. So naturally my manager and I found something to do once the work was done, which was challenge each other in a fighting game, particularly Super Smash Bros Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch.

To clarify quickly, my manager was about my age and also into video games like I was, however, his friends played Super Smash Bros religiously and he had learned a thing or two about the game. While he was no pro (or so he claimed), he definitely knew a lot more than I did and this put me in a bad position starting out. Then came one of the biggest losing streaks of my gaming career. We played a few hours a night for about 2 months or so and I must have lost over 100+ matches. Some nights I was livid. I could not stand losing over and over again no matter what I tried. I noticed I kept complaining and getting annoyed with things around me because I had lost so much. It seemed no matter what, I just could not gain the edge over my opponent. I was insanely frustrated, and what made it more difficult is that I could not let out my frustration because I was forced to remain professional at my work place. Thankfully my frustrations never got the better of me.

One night after a few losses in, at the start of a new match, I took a deep breath and calmed down and started to play more slowly as I observed my opponent. I noticed my calmer thought process and delayed inputs threw off my manager and I was able to take advantage and win that match. After that moment I realized I had finally broken through the barrier of losses and self doubt I had over myself. I began winning regularly and instead of losing streaks, we were trading wins. I was getting better each time we played and I began understanding each character and how the core mechanics worked.

Bringing Confidence With You

Going through this pressure cooker experience of frustration at work and dealing with constant losses helped me to recognize what was actually bothering me about losing. I wasn’t mad at the game or my opponent this entire time. I had been mad at my perspective of myself. I was mad that I couldn’t get better faster, or be patient enough to out maneuver the competition. I couldn’t think straight because my mind associated losing with being a failure and that was my ultimate mistake; believing a false truth about myself. Just because I lost over 100 times didn’t make me a failure, it made me a survivor who learned the value of patience and staying calm and collected while being stuck in a tough spot. While losing consistently at anything you’re trying to perfect may suck at times, there is always something to gain from it. Each loss is a lesson because you are presented with the opportunity to find errors with your performance, skills, awareness, or invested energy in the match and correct them the next time. Once you are able to move forward from that frustration phase your confidence begins to grow.

After gaining that initial base confidence in myself from playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate, I eventually carried it into other competitive fighters like Mortal Kombat 11, Injustice 2, DBFZ, and the Guilty Gear Strive beta. While this is not to say that I have mastered fighting games by any means, I have found a solid footing in which to be confident enough to accept the challenge and the results that follow in any fighter I am playing. From playing DBFZ I learned to appreciate it as a super balanced game with incredible gameplay mechanics that allow you to start off quickly (even if you just button mash) but also master your skills over time. Not to mention the amazing roster and stunning 2D/ 3D anime styled graphics. This visual style also carried over into Arc System Works’ latest game Guilty Gear Strive. Since my experience with DBFZ had gone so well, I was ecstatic to see another fighting game from that development studio coming right around the corner. Despite the two games being completely different from one another in game play, I still found it easier for me to pick up the controller and begin experimenting with the game than I would have before playing DBFZ.

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, Dragon Ball FighterZ is one of the best Dragon Ball games ever made and is probably the most visually similar to the actual anime. It allowed me to become reacquainted with the world of Dragon Ball Super and gain even more confidence in myself as a player. Like I mentioned previously the confidence I gained from fighting games allowed me to be a stronger player overall, even in other games like the new Guilty Gear Strive beta. Getting into fighting games like this really makes me excited for the future and I can’t wait to keep growing my skills and enjoying other fighters.

Thank you so much for reading this post. It was a journey for me to reach this level of understanding and confidence with myself, and being confident in fighting games was just an added bonus. I wanted to share this post with others who are experiencing the same issues with life challenges or gaming challenges. While those challenges may seem overwhelming at first, and at times we may feel like we are failing, understand that these failures are a part of life and they are necessary to help us grow and learn. They can help us build character and confidence in ourselves because we know how much hard work it took to get us where we are now. In order to grow in any competitive space you need to be open minded and remain confident in what you know but also be willing to continue learning. Remember NO ONE is perfect even if you manage to win with a perfect against your opponents, and that is okay. It’s all part of the process to becoming better at your craft and improving your skills, no matter what area in life you are perfecting.

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