RPS Asks: Is Your Competitive Streak Fading With Age?

I did spend a chunk of this morning gloating about how I was smashing Adam’s Devil Daggers times but, by and large, competitiveness is rare for me now. As I settle into my thirties, my days of jostling for frags are behind me, and I haven’t been passive-aggressive to Dota teamies in yonks. TELL THEM, PIP. Anyway. According to a recent report, this is common, and older folks seek competition in games less than younguns. It’s a flimsy report but a nice-conversation starter: how’s your competitiveness faring as you grow older?

According to game analytics consultant firm Quantic Foundry and their over 140,000 survey results, interest in competition drops fairly steadily moving down through ages. As I say, one could pick at its methodology and the conclusions it draws, but that’s no fun. Instead, let’s use it to start a nice chat!

Are you competitive? Have you ever been? Is your competitive streak actually increasing? What do you get out of it? Tell us. Tell us and don’t at all wonder whether I’m compiling all this data from various ‘RPS Asks’ posts to figure out your weakness and, ultimately, destroy you.

I was a bit of a frag-hungry dickhead in my younger days, of the worst kind: those who pretend they’re just playing for fun and it’s all a laugh but who clearly take it seriously and get shirty when they lose. Total nobber. But that’s ebbed with time, and most of the fun I get out of competitive multiplayer games is figuring out how they tick while chatting with pals. I’m more interested in competing with the game, knowing it better, than I am smashing the other team. Ribbing Adam over Devil Daggers is fun, but it’s my own best time I’m chasing. Even a drawn-out, hour-long crushing defeat in Dota is fine if I can feel happy with my own play (and it didn’t sour pals’ moods too much). The other team’s only there to make it interesting.

I must say I did really enjoy playing cheery RPS fanzine PC Gamer in Dota, but I wouldn’t call that competitive – it was a straight-up drubbing.

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122 Comments

  1. Hawk52 says:

    Definitely, but I think for me it’s a combination of age and suffering from depression. I don’t have the same motivation for anything anymore.

    I was never a competitive online player in anything (though I could hold my own in some games/genres) but that desire to get better and to master a game is gone for me. I like learning games and systems but the competitive nature of it is lost on me now.

    There’s also the fact that I don’t really enjoy playing with random people and I’m constantly aware of not becoming “that guy” in the group of friends playing something together. I got that way in several games in my youth and friends typically stop wanting to play a game when one person dominates it.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I can agree mostly with this.

      Competitive with fun is ok. Competitive with 1000s of hours commitment is not.

    • Kala says:

      Yep. Pretty much the only multiplayer I play these days are co-op (left4dead, payday) with friends.

  2. Mogglewump says:

    Wasn’t terribly competitive in the first place, but am even less so these days. Much prefer co-op and constructive games more too.

    • Wisq says:

      Yeah, this basically sums me up too. Either I’m doing badly and I feel bad for letting down my team, or (in some rare cases) I’m doing too well and I feel bad for dominating the other team (or specific people on it).

      I now tend to just be the intentional comic relief in my competitive games. In TF2, I’ll run around as a heavy with fists out (and I’m actually surprisingly good at sneaking up and getting kills — practice makes perfect). In TTT, I’ll carry explosive barrels around, or just act like a traitor (as an innocent) and karma-bait people to keep things interesting. In L4D2, I’ll either give it my best or be completely wacky depending on how well/badly our team is doing. (“Don’t worry, I’ll save you!” *throws molotov at teammate*)

      It’s not that I’m trolling per se, since I always pay attention to the mood of the group and back off if I ever start genuinely pissing people off, and since my friends know what to expect. It’s just that I’m finding alternate ways to have fun, other than just striving to win.

    • arisian says:

      This pretty well describes me, too. I enjoy challenge, but I’ve never really enjoyed competition. I enjoy “winning,” of course, but I don’t really like the feeling of making someone else loose. If I’m going to do multiplayer, it’s going to be PvE of some sort.

      Honestly, I think this relates to a larger issue in our culture. Western culture (and American in particular) really pushes the idea of a zero-sum, us-vs-them mentality (in sports, politics, business, school, etc.). The idea that the only way to win is to make sure someone else looses. This isn’t actually that good a model for most real-world situations (even ones involving scarce resources), and it encourages people to do unkind things to each other. I think it comes out of Adam Smith’s idea that individual selfishness leads to optimal group behavior, but that idea was built on premises that turned out to be false (ask any behavioral psychologist, or even an increasing number of economists about this sometime, but not unless you’ve got nothing to do for the next hour).

  3. NyuBomber says:

    I’m “competitive” in that I enjoy putting my mental and physical prowess with games (particularly fighting games and shooters, and the odd MOBA) to the test against others because I’m interested in (a) getting better and (b) exploring the depth of clashing systems and mindgames that can only be achieved when two individuals/teams are hellbent on putting the other side into the dirt.

    • NyuBomber says:

      Hehe, forgot the second part.

      I’m actually getting *more* competitive, in that sense. Victory isn’t as important as having a good match, but I am serious about learning, which often leads to understanding how to exploit weaknesses and win.

    • Reapy says:

      I think I’m right with you. I’m 36 now, but when I was doing online gaming around 15 or so (warcraft2 via kali, woo) I was really a big dick. It was because I put a lot of my self worth on how well I was doing and it was a way to measure my pretty fragile ego. Basically I was a teenager.

      As I got older, it was harder to find a game I wanted to play for very long. When I do find a game from time to time, I am way more interested in self mastery and understanding how everything works together.

      The other big factor is time, as I get older there are lot more responsibilities that take up more time. It gets harder and harder to make a commitment to other people that you will be somewhere at a specific time, or even can be online regularly.

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    caff says:

    Every now and again a game will come along and bring out my inner tiger (rawr). My current one is Rocket League.

  5. deadly.by.design says:

    I still enjoy competition, but no longer have endless hours to invest. In competitive games, you either have to dump hours of play to stay sharp (or practice), or resign yourself to being a filthy casual.

    For myself, I used to really enjoy Dota 2. I was a pretty average player, but always had a hunger to continue playing and advancing in skill. The problem is that I’m a married guy in my 30s now, switched to a more demanding job, and have a child on the way. Considering it requires complete attention for spans of 30-60 minutes, I’m 95% sure that nobody with a kid has time to play Dota 2 in any competitive sense.

    So, yeah … I have pretty much written off competitive games. It’s not for a lack of enjoyment, but I’m no longer willing or able to invest the necessary time to play at my desired level.

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      WombatDeath says:

      I agree with this, minus the kid bit. (From which you can assume either that I don’t have any, or that I neglect them in favour of playing games).

      The other big factor for me, besides time, is the challenge aspect. I spend my day at work sorting out problems and dealing with arseholes, so the last thing I need in my free time is people making things difficult – I can get paid for that. As I’ve got older, the rest of my life has become sufficiently demanding (although generally in a positive way) that I don’t need competition in my gaming.

      • deadly.by.design says:

        “As I’ve got older, the rest of my life has become sufficiently demanding (although generally in a positive way) that I don’t need competition in my gaming.”

        Exactly. That’s why I dropped Dota 2 around to same time I changed jobs last year. My previous one wasn’t nearly as demanding in terms of mental energy, so my game of choice was a great outlet (albeit often frustrating). Heck, I’d even play a match on lunch breaks when I was able. It felt like a great break from the monotony.

        Now that I’ve moved into a more challenging and rewarding job position, I simply don’t need the added challenge when I find the time to play games. That’s not to say that I avoid all challenge, but specifically the frustration that I know often results from playing Dota. Also, I don’t have the time to keep up with the meta, patch notes, etc. I’ll still watch The International, though.

  6. gunny1993 says:

    I think I’ve stayed at about the same level of competitiveness (not very) but my level of salt has increased dramatically, but the time I remain salty is far shorter.

    I vaguely remember being younger and getting annoyed at some fool playing some game and losing us the match, and remaining mildly annoyed for a few hours.

    now I tend to just shout at whoever is in skype with me (I rarely play any competitive game alone) with as much hyperbole as possible until we’re all laughing, then I forget it immediately.

    I’d like to point out i’m only salty with my friends, not randoms … unless they get snappy in chat, then I take great amusement typing roundabout insults in amusing ways. Yeah i know it’s not good for the “environment of the game” but I don’t give a fuck really and it’s much enjoyment for me and my friends.

  7. twixter says:

    I’m 36 years old, and good sportsmanship was drilled into me at an early age. I still enjoy competitive games, and get a certain adrenaline rush that I don’t get in non-competitive activities, but my attitude is a little more mature than it used to be. “Toxic” opponents amuse me rather than get in my head. Toxic teammates are far more irritating, and I’m not above a little sabotage when teammates are particularly misbehaved. Perhaps when I’m in my 40s…

    • Enkinan says:

      38 here and I feel pretty much the same.

      I love to win, but the main thing I love is winning AS A TEAM. I can scratch the itch quickly and in a more relaxed atmosphere in Rocket League or TF2 these days, but I truly miss my DAOC and Guildwars 2 WvW guilds. It’s great to have an ongoing connection to the people you play with and see the coordination result in noticeable gains for your realm or server in a larger world type setting.

    • Reapy says:

      Welp 36 here and agreeing also.

      I have a sneaking suspicion it’s because at this age we’ve already probably been really good at some games and really bad at others, and you can kinda see how the moment to moment victories don’t matter anymore.

      What matters is the feeling of self mastery, putting a good play together, making a high risk play and it paying off. And the beauty of teamwork, learning to read your teammates and reacting together, when you make a move in a direction and your teammate seamlessly plays right off it or visa versa.

      That’s online gaming to me, those moments of harmony when a plan comes together, learning who a person is more compeltly than if you had been talking to them. All of that.

      The W/L and rank number mean nothing, in the end.

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    phuzz says:

    I’ve never been competitive, I’ve never understood people get so wound up about winning.
    Not that I never played multiplayer games, but most of the time either I was way better (eg against my younger brothers), or way worse (against anyone else), so it was never much fun.
    Nowadays I just avoid multiplayer by default, except the odd co-op game with friends. That might be as much to do with me being a grumpy introvert as anything else though.

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      Risingson says:

      Same here. I hate to compete, and maybe that is what has played against me (irony!) in every job. I love team work, hate playing against a team. I don’t like playing against others because I don’t care if winning or losing and I don’t like people being affected by me winning or losing.

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        Risingson says:

        Opinioned too fast. I was a kind of boring kid for that, though I always loved card games, and still do.

        I remember one of our neighbours telling my mother to put me in some kind of “competition/aggressiveness” training, because I was too tame. She never talked to her again.

  9. MakG2nd says:

    I am 21 years old right now and I have never been more competitive. I really like the feel of putting everything I have against other human and see if I can win. I also love teamwork, so DotA is one of my favourite games to play with friends.

    I must admit, from time to time, I feel bad because a teamfight went bad and I think someone could have done it better, but I don’t like to blame others, so I always try to make me the question: “Was there something I could have done better?” The answer is, always yes.

    The worst part of all is when I am facing my own friends, because I am not able to refrain, I alwayas play 100% against anyone. This may be bad when encouraging people to keep playing against you if you play better… but I can’t change it. That’s most probably the reason why I only play cooperative games with my friends the whole time, or competitive games where they are much better than I (like fighting games).

  10. amateurviking says:

    I’ve been a bit of a care bear most of my gaming life. I certainly used to play a lot more adversarial multiplayer games, but they were inevitably couch-based multiplayer (Goldeneye, Mariokart, Mario Tennis (that was SUPER competitive)) which was a lot more about hanging out with friends (that I conveniently lived with). Never really got into competitive multiplayer with the faceless internet: it always tended to get ruined by some hyper-alpha brodude or something.

  11. dogsolitude_uk says:

    I’m probably one of the older members of your readership, and this is the first time I’ve commented here in a few years too :)

    Yeah, I definitely found a few things have changed as I’ve got older. Chiefly I’ve found that I started to care less and less about what other people think of me, and so care less and less about having the best PC, newest clothes, best paid job and so forth. As my career’s progressed and I’ve taken more senior roles which have included managing people, I started to value cooperation more as well, and find needless competition and one-upmanship somewhat grating.

    Having said that though I’m a lot more driven to complete things to the best of my abilities, so I’m more inclined to want to master a game, e.g. Dark Souls or something similar.

    I’m also less inclined to give up on something if I want to do it, no matter how tough it is, although having a bit less time for gaming now I’m more inclined to cut my losses on something that doesn’t ‘click’ with me.

    Hope that makes some sort of sense…

    • mouton says:

      It does.

      Managed competitiveness instead of letting it define you as well as carefully picking what really gets one going instead of trying to be “hardcore” all across the board.

      A bit of an age thing indeed. Young males are prodded by hormones and youth to be the top dogs and it often takes time to realize it is just a dumb biological mechanism that does not even wishes you well and that it is not, in fact, the goal and essence of life.

  12. Simbosan says:

    Being older doesn’t mean I’m less competitive but it does mean I’m intolerant of the toxic communities that are pretty much guaranteed in any PvP game. Games that are exclusively PvE are much more likely to be full of mature courteous players.

    I have pretty much zero tolerance for communities where chat sounds like a constant stream of YouTube comments. When you join in a PvP game you won’t have to wait long for the racist/sexist playground bullies to open up their full caps tirades of concentrated bile.

    Too old for that shit, I play games strictly for fun. Maybe I come from a more polite age, yes I’m that old, but I refuse to have in my life the poisonous little shits you meet in online competitive games. Maybe there are fun competitive games but I’ve yet to find one.

    Yeah I know, WTF R U GHEY FAG CAREBEAR LOL

  13. Jokerme says:

    I’m competitive as long as I win. If I constantly lose I’m just a salty loser.

  14. Agnol117 says:

    I’d say it’s probably remained about the same from when I was a teenager to now (late twenties with two kids), but then I wasn’t ever particularly competitive to begin with. Even when playing competitive games, I was playing first and foremost to have fun, and didn’t much care about “winning” (though it was always fun). But as time has gone on, I’ve found that I get a lot more enjoyment out of co-op games, either with friends or with my wife. All told, I’d much rather do something with someone than against them, as it were.

  15. jayrads says:

    I absolutely agree. I’ve been playing with the (mostly) same group of friends since EQ. While we used to be very competitive in online pvp and multi-player shooters, it’s now more about hanging out with friends and enjoying the experience of the game.

    There’s a bunch of reasons that I can figure, but most importantly, we just don’t have the time to spend perfecting gameplay/strategies and memorizing maps. We’re all in our 40s and with wives and kids so gaming time is limited.

    Also, over the years, we’ve scattered ourselves around the country, so gaming together allows us to catch up with each other.

    Most of the time, if my gaming friends aren’t buying the latest multiplayer game, I’m not going to buy it.

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    Bluerps says:

    I don’t really play multiplayer nowadays, but my experience from playing board games is that I play games mostly for the enjoyment of playing a game with friends, and that, in the end, I don’t care that much about winning and losing.

    I used to be more competitive a long time ago. Even back then I didn’t play a lot of multiplayer, but for a while I played Warcraft 3 online, both alone and with up to 3 friends. Those games I wanted to win. I hated it when I lost, and I even trained a bit to get better.

  17. Chaz says:

    Well I’m in my early 40’s now and my competitive streak has pretty much all but disappeared, to the point where the kinds of games I enjoy now compared to what I used to enjoy has changed quite a bit. FPS’s I used to love especially, games like the Quakes and Unreal Tournaments and all the Battlefield games, now I just have very little interest in them. I just can’t be bothered with all that any more. Especially now in recent years where you have to work at them to unlock weapons and features. My time is more precious than it used to be and that sort of thing is a big turn off for me. I don’t mind devoting hours to a sim or something like that, Elite Dangerous for example, but in what should be quick pick up and play game like Battlefield for instance, I don’t want to have to spend countless hours of my life playing it just so that I can get access to a particular weapon or skill. Unlocks for me are the bane of the modern FPS’s. Also as I’ve slowed down, a lot of these games have just become far too fast paced for me. I play games to relax now, and playing competitively is not relaxing.

    It’s not just competitive multiplayer games, some single player games like Dark Souls I also find a turn off, the punishing “rogue likes”, just the thought of playing something like that makes me feel tired.

    These days I want to play some thing a little more creative and less destructive. I still enjoy shooting stuff every now and then though, just a lot less than I used to. I quite like the big open world experiences and enjoy a bit of co-op play. So it does sadden me a bit when I see some of these open world survival and construction games go down the PvP route, you know, for the kids.

    Right now my ideal MMO would be a game where you build villages and farms and help each other out. There’d be no combat or anything to kill. Minecraft on peaceful mode essentially, but with swanky CryEngine graphics.

  18. PancakeWizard says:

    Not sure I ever was competitive. I was spoiled early on by SNES Mario Kart and Unirally tournaments with friends, then got to play Quake 2 LAN matches in college. We even managed to pool enough joysticks together for a 4-man LAN match of X-wing vs TIE Fighter. Best gaming days of my life. It was sometime after this I peeked into the world of online multiplayer with Star Wars Galaxies. It was great but it certainly wasn’t competitive. It wasn’t too bad in WoW either, as I never had the inclination or dedication for Raids. I just liked chatting bollocks and exploring or running 5-mans. The FPS online renaissance completely passed me by as I was always more into single player stuff and there was plenty of it to go around.

    I did have a brief fortnight-long love affair with Tribes: Ascend once, and these days I might jump into CS:GO occasionally, but only for casual deathmatch and I NEVER talk to anyone. Rocket League gets a look in too, again because I don’t have to communicate to be able to play and can play it locally with friends. TF2/BF/COD and MOBAs? I can’t get away fast enough. L4D remains the only modern online multiplayer experience that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and again that was with people I knew IRL and survival co-op mode only.

    If there’s a genre I used to enjoy but now can’t get on with it’s probably RTS, as it does feel like they’ve got more complex for me. The exact point this happened was when, being a Total Annihilation fan, I picked up Supreme Commander and just felt lost. Dawn of War was most welcome after that, but the trend was pretty set at that point.

    The genre that most fascinates me these days is the single-player open-world survival types like Minecraft Survival mode, or Subnautica. These are games with a logical ladder to climb, plenty of ways to make your own personal mark and session-length can be anything you require.

    I am really looking forward to No Man’s Sky.

    Bit of a ramble, sorry. Was just a nice trip down memory lane for me.

    • deadly.by.design says:

      Bit of a ramble, sorry. Was just a nice trip down memory lane for me.

      No, I enjoyed it. L4D1/2 were enormous hits with me, and I too am looking forward to No Man’s Sky.

      Have you tried Rodina? It seems to be a similar concept, albeit early access and graphically simple. There’s a demo, too, but I haven’t had the chance to try it out.

    • Emeraude says:

      I was spoiled early on by SNES Mario Kart and Unirally tournaments with friends

      I’d add Tetris Battle Gaiden and the Bomberman games to that.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        Totally forgot about Super Bomberman! Awesome multiplayer game.

  19. PineMaple says:

    I’ve found the opposite. When I was younger I mainly just wanted to play games to smash computer opponents, played a lot of power-fantasy RPGs, played RTS titles but mainly on Easy mode, etc. I’m in my mid-20s now so I’m nowhere near old, but I am older and now I basically have no interested in single player titles and focus exclusively on the competitive aspects of games.

  20. Beanbee says:

    Still competitive. Sometimes even when only against myself.

    However, I can’t invest the hours to be truly fantastic at any one game. I’d still happily rate myself in the top 10% of anything I put my mind to, but I can’t really push any higher than that.

    As others have said however, the communities are, as this always has been, pretty toxic.

  21. craigdolphin says:

    Mid 40’s here. Have never been very competitive but I did enjoy playing LAN Doom or Duke Nukem 3D back in the day against friends.

    Haven’t had any interest in multiplayer anything for nearly two decades now. Could not care less about competitive nonsense. Gaming is an escape from real life frustrations, not a place to be aggravated further by unfriendly aggressive people.

    In a related note: get off my bloody lawn! :)

  22. lowprices says:

    As I’ve gotten older I’ve found I get enough stress in real life to go looking for it in my gaming. I tried Heroes of the Storm and CS:GO last year and gave up on both pretty quickly, as I was finding the need to be solidly focused on the game for long periods of time (as well as the general aggression of randoms) to be too stressful for me too enjoy myself.

    The only exceptions are occasional returns to Hearthstone and Chaos Reborn, as both games are very short, and CR has a friendly (albeit tiny) community.

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    PoulWrist says:

    I enjoy a good competition still, at nearly 34, but the problems of life is that it seems to revolve around a lot of other things than gaming. For me to have a good time in, even the most casual of competitive games (e.g. BF4), requires that I find myself at least moderately competent.

    I stopped destroying furniture, and such, in rage over bad plays years ago, but I do still feel the call for having a good time vs. someone else. I don’t like bad competition, though. I enjoy playing against equally skilled players, there’s no fun in butchering noobs, just as being steamrolled is no fun either.

    Apart from all the life-job-socialising that takes away from sitting in front of the PC playing FPS (yeah, mobas are not my cup of tea), what probably stands most in my way of ever becoming anything like more than “competent” at any single title, is that I really, really enjoy playing a lot of different games.

    • uh20 says:

      I actually enjoyed Battlefield 4 for a while because you could get steamrolled by tanks, like a tiny ant just waiting to be hit by high caliber shells. It was strangely amusing to me.

  24. YohnTheViking says:

    I’m not certain if loosing the competitive streak is the right way of thinking about it.

    You can usually find that competitive streak in anyone under the right conditions, but those conditions get narrower and narrower the older you get. What I tend to see is that the older you are the less interested you are in playing online multiplayer games. It can be the facelessness of the whole thing (both team-mates and competitors), the toxicity of the community, or simply not having the man hours to put into mastering the game. Get someone like that to play a board game they can get into and start mastering though, and boy will you see that competitive streak arrive.

    Personally I’ll play a couple of rounds of Rocket League, some of the more varied and oddball match types in shooters, and other stuff that lets me muck about a bit more. As soon as I NEED (rather than want to) take the game seriously though, I’m out. At any point when other players start doing more than just enjoying fun, weird and wonderful stuff happening on a screen I leave. It’s just not in me to be able to take games seriously in that way. Got real life for that.

    • Emeraude says:

      What I tend to see is that the older you are the less interested you are in playing online multiplayer games.

      Yeah I do think the loss of private servers/LAN is one of the main reasons why I don’t play modern competitive games.
      If you’re not at reliable punching distance, I don’t want to play with you.

      • DeLameter says:

        Emeraude: “If you’re not at reliable punching distance, I don’t want to play with you.”

        There is a lot of truth to this: physical closeness puts a limit on the competitiveness of a game (even though it’s not foolproof), because after the match, you still have to interact socially. This reduces the importance of a game match result to what it is: a game.

        There is more to say, but other people have already said it, so I leave it at this.

  25. TheAngriestHobo says:

    I’m competitive when I’m winning.

  26. BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

    It’s been fading for the past couple of years and I’m only 19. I used to get very competitive when I was younger, but now I try not to get too hung up over a loss. That’s not to say I don’t still get a bit miffed if I need to do something to progress and I just lose again and again and again, but I’ve certainly mellowed out. I think it’s because I’ve died down on how much I play games to the point that I’m not up there with the best, so I don’t try to be. When I was younger I played so excessively that I would eventually reach the point where I was almost always battling for first place, so it got really tense and I got more annoyed with myself for messing up. These days I don’t really care about coming first or anything anymore; I’ll still do my best, but if anything I feel that loss of a need to win has only been healthy for me. I used to get so angry when I’d lose when I was younger, and I’m not sad to see that side of me go.

  27. Arathain says:

    I think I’m becoming more competitive, although I think that’s because I come to it from a slightly different spot. Mid-30s, for context.

    I’m not very reward-focused, so while I like winning just fine, the pleasure of victory is not the rush it is for many. As I go on, though, I start to value certain things more: I want the feeling of mastery, and I like intense, rich experiences that are self-contained over a short time-frame.

    Competitive gaming gives me this. So whether it’s Dawn of War 2 before or Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm now, I can have these bite-sized, intense experiences, while I steadily improve and grow over time. The games are deep enough that I can enjoy spending some outside game time thinking about decks or builds or tactics when I wish, and expand my experience that way.

  28. Laurentius says:

    Meh, pharmaceutical industry will fix it in couple of years. We have viagra now, they will bring that special pill and we will be in competitive gaming saddle again.

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    teije says:

    Well I’m definitely old, compared to the average here I bet. I go back to the dawn of computer gaming – playing Colossal Cave Adventure on my father’s work PDP mainframe, that’s how old I am.

    Never been too competitive against people, but quite against the game/AI. The more mentally challenging the better. I only like to be competitive against people I’m in the same physical space with (boardgames, minor sports), because then it’s fun and not toxic.

    But finally moved away from competition against people online because of a trashy space iOS game I was obsessed with a few years ago where you destroyed other people’s fleets, occupied their planets, that kind of thing (I know, don’t judge me). Got extremely good at it, but one day realized I was just wrecking other people’s carefully built up planets for kicks. So just kamikazed my account & quit.
    Never played against a human again, except in boardgames or co-op. Works for me.

    • Reapy says:

      That happened to me in dark souls. I made a pvp character, got it all stated out, was really excited to play it, and man, after like 4 invasions I was starting to hate myself. After that I kept wanting to lose more and more, eventually after just one play session I hung that character up, the thought of going in and wrecking people’s days just isn’t how I want to be spending my time.

  30. BluePencil says:

    I consider myself a rather inert individual and if I were to overhear someone say of me “oh, he’s so competitive, isn’t he?” I’d wonder if they were off their medications.

    However, I play Hearthstone very casually and – as a result – lack most of the cards any self-respecting player has and I own not one single legendary. And I notice that if I lose a game after someone has played two or three legendaries against me I feel the immiseration of a particularly sulky thirteen year old. I take it very personally, hate the game, internally wail “IT’S NOT FAAAAAIR!” and rage quit.

    • BluePencil says:

      Oh, forgot to say, I’m either middle-aged or very close to it. I’m not sure where the line is drawn for middle age. I’m certain there’s fewer years ahead of me than are behind me at any rate.

  31. LionsPhil says:

    I don’t have the time to be good at things any more, so I sink into my happy casual zone of co-op PvE.

  32. ZedZed says:

    The problem I have (41 yo with wife, kids, dog) is that I can no longer be guaranteed 60 minutes “solid” gameplay without interruption. So anything that can’t be paused (and therefore pretty much all multi-player games, unless turn based!) are difficult for me. In a nutshell – I’m “game-time poor” – and as a result my tastes inevitably shift away from online games, and more towards things that I can fit in when I have a spare 20 minutes!

    • pureolivia says:

      This is exactly true for me too. I even play Fifa offline.

      Also, I just don’t have the time to be good enough to compete at the level I want to.

  33. kikito says:

    I have never enjoyed playing competitively to begin with. I enjoy watching the pros play. But for me, it’s single player always (maybe with some coop mode from time to time)

  34. Jools says:

    How are we defining competitive here?

    The older I get (I’m in my 30s), the more I gravitate towards games that are “hard” or that have a high skill ceiling, but I don’t really care all that much whether I win or lose. I do care about improving, but I think that’s different from being competitive.

  35. melnificent says:

    It depends on the game and who I am playing against to how competitive I am.

    Xcom on PS3 with my friend that only plays that game on that system… 19/20 I’ll beat him, it’s that 1 win that keeps him going. I really should tell him I have a spreadsheet of which of my squads win most often.

    Shooty mctwitch (COD, battlefield) I’m not interested in the competition as I’m too slow to react to all but the slowest threats.

    Anything against my kids and it’s a balance between being nice and also making them play harder to win. Their grasp of board game mechanics and teamwork to beat me works, and they generally knock me out first. Then it’s a sibling bloodbath, which are always fun.

    Rocket League is my main outlier as I don’t like football, have no interest in competitive competition and yet play it every week without fail.

    • melnificent says:

      None of this counts against my siblings… then we’re all out for blood.

    • ooshp says:

      “I really should tell him I have a spreadsheet of which of my squads win most often.”

      You truly are a special kind of evil.

  36. slerbal says:

    These days I have no interest in competition or grinding. I play games to escape from the grind of reality and some escapism. When I was younger I was more interested in competition but now toxic playerbases and playing with 12 year olds holds no interest for me (I’m early 40s).

    Plus I *loathe* grinding (far more than I avoid competitive play). Life is short and fleeting and much as I love games I don’t want to waste my time in mindless repetition. Hearing a game is a permadeath roguelike these days is a good indicator that I won’t enjoy it. Darkest Dungeon and Sunless Sea both lost me for exactly that reason.

    I also discovered recently that I have had my fill of crafting in games. It is just grinding in another skin. So no more survival games for me either.

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      The degree to which Sunless Sea can be described as a permadeath roguelike is… questionable. It’s more of a visual novel by way of The Sims. Sure, you can die, but unless you do it in the first couple of hours, you’ll just carry on playing as your kid.

      • slerbal says:

        True, but they described it as such, and regardless it is full of pointless grind that gets in the way of the more interesting story.

        • mouton says:

          I disagree Sunless Sea having much grind. It is not designed very well as a game, though, so I can understand where such impression comes from.

    • Minglefingler says:

      Yeah there’s also an option to allow you to save and load at will in Sunless Sea.

  37. Kyuurei says:

    I’m 31 and i’ve been gaming since i was 4. The level of competitiveness i would say it’s the same, i still play games like Dota, Hots, CS and various pvp stuff and get a lot of enjoyment out of them. As many other have already said tho, the tollerance for failure is definetly lower, i get easily frustrated by bad teammates or toxic communities and stuff like that. When i was around 17 i was playing ultima online and the amount of time i got pked and lost all my stuff is unspeakable, but back then it was fun, made me smarter in moving around and eventually drove me to be stronger and do the same to other poor souls (i’m so sorry lonely miners). I don’t think i would be able to play a game like that now.
    So it’s kind of a weird relationship with these games, they made me angry and salty, but in the end i have a good time.
    Has to be said that i wouldn’t play solo anymore tho, solo queue in any game nowdays is like asking to be beaten and insulted, and you all know how it is, when something goes wrong always blame the lonely pubbie :P

  38. montorsi says:

    Still competitive but I am absolutely zen about adversity in games, whether it’s my own failures or my teammates. What’s important is improving and getting better, not dwelling on whatever clusterfuck is currently in progress.

  39. Emeraude says:

    Never been a competitive player. I tend to find the mindset has something destructive at its core.

    I’ve always loved to play a lot of competitive games though. As I like to describe it, it’s like dancing. The purpose is not to beat your partner(s)*, it’s to make something beautiful out of it.

    *: yeah, yeah, Battle of the Year and all that jazz… I still find the formatting of those ridiculous myself though the dance is really good.

    • Overvulture says:

      I feel this is a really underrated part of pvp multiplayer. Games designed not to be competitively balanced and revolve around an evolving meta, but just about spectacle and fun. Pvp horror games have the potential for this sometimes I think, as long as guns/extensive combat aren’t involved.

  40. Sarfrin says:

    Never liked online multiplayer and still don’t.

  41. KevinLew says:

    As somebody in my 40’s that is still playing games, competitive games have lost almost all of their appeal.

    First of all, there is no way that a person in their 40’s can seriously compete in twitch games like Call of Duty. Not only do your reaction times diminish, you can’t compete against a college student that can hone their skills by playing eight hours a day.

    Even if you ignore the hand-eye coordination issue, most competitive games always involve a meta. This means that you’ll have to spend a significant amount of time understanding it, countering it, or using it yourself. Every time the game releases a rebalance patch, you’ll have to study that too because the meta will shift. Most people at my age just don’t have time for that kind of thing, because they have bigger issues such as their own children or the pressure of their careers.

    • silentdan says:

      I feel intense anger and frustration when I lose, and nothing at all when I win. I don’t compete because numb indifference is the best possible outcome.

    • jrodman says:

      Also now in 40s, but even when I was in my 20s, I felt pretty similarly. I used to say the only people who have a chance in an online game are the people who play only that game. What fun is that?

      Nowadays we have matchmaking brackets and suchlike, but I’ve found the mood doesn’t really change. The online games are still dominated by people who have played for thousands of hours, and even playing against the relatively bad ones isn’t much fun. In fact in many ways you just get stupid assholes who are dedicated to the game. The lower brackets tend to be the least fun.

      Playing games against people you know in a lighthearted way was always so much better, even when I still had some willingness to play competitively left in me.

    • mouton says:

      Yeah, the extensive meta often looks like some arcane bullshit to me. I got involved in HotS because it is “casual” for a MOBA and still it has lots of useless knowledge you have to possess in order not to get eaten. I am not touching a “serious” MOBA with a ten-foot pole.

      Fine if people do it as their hobby, but definitely not for everyone.

    • Reapy says:

      I think you are only partially right. There are some games that are designed for twitch and speed, and yeah, you sort of have to avoid them, but there are also games out there that move slower, that as we get older we can still keep up (not with the best, but don’t need to always be playing those people).

      As a long time gamer you have experience on your side, and probably a better understanding of how to focus your time in figuring out what you need to do to succeed.

      Anyway, there are lots of different games out there. Even though we are slower, we can still do better than a great majority of younger, faster, people out there. If anything their speed is their downfall as they often don’t stop their gameplan and alter it when things aren’t going the way they expect, letting you walk them right to their doom.

  42. Bobtree says:

    I don’t care too much whether I win or lose. I care enormously about whether a game is fair, contentious, and interesting. If I can always learn something new and improve my skills by practice and study, then a competitive game is worth playing.

    My attitude has improved with maturity, and the set of things I want to be good at has evolved, but I don’t want less or worse competition.

  43. Synesthesia says:

    I love getting good at games, but I usually quit just before getting into competitive levels. Did it once, did not like it one bit.

    I can still be a bit of a dick in dota, though. I should work on that.

  44. kwyjibo says:

    At some point, you realise that competition in video games has no reward and the only thing that matters is money/power/golf.

  45. Overvulture says:

    I still have a troublesome competitive streak at times and absolutely hate losing, which is reason enough to avoid competitive games. Brings out the worst in me.

    Now though, being able to compete means putting in so much time that I’ll never get around to all those other games in my Steam horde I want to play someday. I’m much more interested in finishing something than infinitely competing. It’s just more fun and satisfying, and allows me to move from game to game rather than sink all my time into one.

  46. Polish lager says:

    I’m largely non-competitive with games, but getting dethroned on Audiosurf (1 or 2) is an odd exception to that rule. “You’re not gonna take that, are you?” says my brain, and no, I’m not.

  47. Joshua Northey says:

    Absolutely. It has fallen from like a 9 of 10 to maybe a 7 of 10 between the ages of 28 and 34. I also had a kid during that period so I am sure that contributes as well. In addition my life overall is just in a better place.

    I think when you are in perhaps a lower station than you feel you truly deserve crushing your opponents in competitive contests provides some ancillary subconscious self-esteem and other psychological benefits. Once you are fat and happy the drive to exterminate falls off a bit.

  48. Megazell says:

    It’s waned for me quite a bit. My high point of competitive gaming were in 3 waves.

    Wave 1 – Arcade Fever – My Teens – During the the release of X-Men Children Of The Atom + MK3 – These were money throw down days. $5 a match with the high end of the pot going up to $50. I use to stake out arcades and take on fellow teens and adults alike. Took home a few pots – Lost many coins but it was thrilling as fuck.

    Wave 2 – Late Teens/Early 20’s – Quake and TFC local tournaments – This was one of the best eras for me. I am not pro by any means but I was pretty good in this circle of players. My team won a few matches @ the legendary Neutral Grounds in NYC before it went down and I had a paid so good that I was able to go on vacation to Cancun with my gf who later became my wife. She was and still is a UT head.

    Wave 3 – Final wave – L4D local and City Of Heroes base raids – This was great time but I was only it because my routine was set. I met great ppl but after these two things fell – I never got back into the competitive spirits. I was now a Dad (3x over), homeowner, running a business – stuff that to go and competitive gaming was the first.

    The only time I get competitive is @ the office when we fire off a few games of AssaultCube or Xonotic but outside of that I’m playing against the CPU or with family and friend and being chill with it.

    Or I troll extra hard online for shits and giggles.

  49. MantusTR says:

    It’s not my competiveness that is gone in my favorite genre of mmorpg. It’s the bar they’re raising in order to compete. Games are adding way to much with way to many gates, for the content crushers that demand more content and more stuff that no one else can get.

  50. jrodman says:

    I’ve never been competitive, but as I’ve grown older, I have lost my tolerance for competitive atmospheres.

    If the game wants to be about outplays and who has the higher skill level, then I no longer see the point in playing at all, because I’m not interested doing/being those things. If the game has a nominal competitive element but is primarily about teamwork, I can get interested but it doesn’t take a lot of people yelling about winning/losing for me to tune out. I don’t even really want to play games where the single player experience is designed primarily as a challenge anymore. If it has challenge elements, that’s okay, but it’d better not spend much of its time making a real attempt at testing my capabilities, or I’m just going to lose interest.

    • mpk says:

      This. Very much this.

      I no longer see the point in playing a game on any difficulty level higher than Normal – I want to relax and play a game until it’s time to turn it off and go do something else; I don’t want to be rage quitting in frustration.