Overcoming frustration and reclaiming enjoyment

Hi. This is gonna be really TL;DR, so that I can fully explain my situation.

I’ve been playing fighting games semi-seriously since BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger. Until then, the only competitive game I really cared about was Smash Bros., but I had so much fun with BlazBlue that I took it to my university’s game room and started playing it with a few people. There was one guy in particular who knew a lot of stuff about it and started teaching me, so I started to slowly get better, up through Continuum Shift, and Continuum Shift II.

It was a couple months after CS2 hit where I felt like I hit a wall, and stopped improving. I played a lot of online matches, and was consistently stuck at 95 PSR with my character, and losing over and over and over. Even up at school, I started losing the majority of my matches. And it was frustrating. Infuriating even, at some points. Why was I stuck? Why couldn’t I get better? What was I missing? After a little under two years, I felt like was just “okay” at the game, and that I couldn’t improve any further.

So I started to branch out more into other fighting games. The first game I seriously branched out to was Ultimate Marvel 3. I became friends with a group of people that were way better than me at it, and when I was trying to play it with them, it basically just felt like I couldn’t do anything but sit there and watch them kill me on auto-pilot. It decimated my confidence in fighting games, and I went, in my mind, from “barely above average” to “not very good”. It fell further when I entered a Marvel tournament at a local arcade and lost every match that I played, even the numerous casuals. It felt like the skill disparity in this game in particular was insurmountable, and I thus resolved–after already having purchased the game, no less–that Marvel was just not for me, at least not yet.

So I tried Street Fighter next, starting with Third Strike Online. After all, Street Fighter focuses on fundamentals, and improving my fundamentals would make me better in all fighters, right? 3S felt fun, but it was also really tough. I was on the lowest difficulty, and I couldn’t consistently defeat Gill. I lost most of the matches I played online. But I also heard that 3S was more difficult, so I decided to go ahead and get into SF4AE. I fared better there, but still couldn’t consistently defeat Seth, at the second to lowest difficulty. I took it to the online scene, and still continued to consistently lose, at the lowest level of online play. My confidence took another drop, and at this point, from “not very good” to outright “bad”.

At this point, I’m not having any fun anymore… or rather, I’m having this strange mixed feeling of no fun and fun. I do enjoy fighting games, I think they’re fun, and as an aspiring game designer, I think they’re fascinating. But I want to win matches at least some of the time, and in order to do that, I have to be at least kind of good. But I’m bad, or at least I feel like I am, so I’m not having any fun. I’ve been grinding at my skills like mad, reading up on strategy like crazy… and then I had a realization when reading the Sonic Hurricane article “Enthusiasm vs Experience”, which has enjoyment as one of its core points to getting an edge over experienced players. It could be that one of the reasons I’ve felt like I’ve been getting worse is because my frustration at my lack of development and consistent losses were gradually causing me to have less and less fun, and that less fun could actually have been making me worse. And since I’m not having fun, anything I try to learn is more of an essential chore blocking me from fun rather than actual fun, and doesn’t get absorbed anyways. And the worst part is that I’ve been at that stage for months.

So after that buttload of exposition, here’s the essential thing I want to figure out before I start trying to tackle any of my actual gameplay issues: How do I overcome my frustration and start enjoying these games again?

It’s really somethin’ you yourself can figure out. Because everyones different so what might help you relax and calm you, might not for the other person or vis-verca. I understand how you feel though, Because its the same for me practiced my a** off and would go on bad losin’ streaks or get beat by the most stupiest simple thing that I knew how to counter,block,reverse…etc and get more frustrated. But lately when Im doin’ really bad and just don’t feel like Im playin’ “my best” I critique myself in a way to keep pushin and get better and that helps with my frustration also. So I don’t know if what I all wrote helped or not? but atleast your not alone with this problem

Maybe you just can’t get better? It’s a possibility.

I’d say the first thing to do is try and identify why you are loosing, it could be something universal like needing to learn to block better or improve your footsies so you don’t end up getting kept at just the wrong range to do anything whilst your oponent is getting counterhits into combos, it could even be something like having trouble getting round zoning or having trouble anti-airing.

The thing is it’s hard for anyone to give advice over getting over a slump if no-one knows what is causing you problems and if you can identify your problems you will already be taking a step in the right direction.

Sounds to me like your nerves are getting the best of you. Try playing a long session of casual matches with your friends and just relax your mind and try not to think about losing or winning but rather playing and creating good matches. That way not only will you improve your overall game but you will be having fun doing it.

Iv seen a lot of people playing casuals or online like they are playing at evo finals for 20k against daigo. Playing like this all the time won’t improve your game and isn’t fun. Instead of trying to win all the time play with the mindset of trying to improve.

First, thank you all for your replies.

I usually play with the mindset of trying to improve, but the core issue that seems to be holding me back is that I’m frustrated with my lack of improvement, and I’m not having fun due to what feels like a futile effort. And since I’m not having fun, efforts to improve are a chore and most of whatever I could learn goes right out the window. A vicious cycle.

I’m aware of the myriad ways that I could potentially step up my game. And indeed, I may even have to come to terms with the possibility that I won’t be able to improve any further… but before I can do any of that, I need to overcome my frustration and start having fun again. That’s what I most need help with. How do I do that?

Anyone can improve in anything if they want it bad enough least that’s how I think. If you want to improve relax and think about the stuff you want to improve on. Just relax and start picking your mind on whats holding you back from improving, if you are having trouble beating some players try playing at a slower pace so you can see everything that goes on in the match (mistakes they are making, you are making etc.) as you get better and better increase your pace and so on. Your issue is kind of complex and the only one that can solve it is you, still I hope some of the tips help you.

Depends on the game. Such as Comisc Break what I’m currently playing you can’t improve unless you drop $100s of dollars just to try something and see if you like it. Doubt I’ll keep playing it for long, a big scam is what it is. As for your game play if your not getting better it simply means your not trying out every possible situation or tactic, everything I learn is from trial and error.

I’m actually going through the same thing your going through atm. Only this is the second wall I’ve hit. Oddly enough, reading this reminded me of what the much older, wiser, player who teaches me to play, told me the first time this happened. That “You have hit the first wall of many too come”. For me the first wall was execution. I was just transitioning to fight stick and I knew what to do and when to do it. But just couldn’t make my fingers do what my brain wanted it to. Thus I was getting very discouraged and already contemplating giving up after only 2 months. He told me to "be patient it will come, it takes time. Daigo’s been playing for 15+ years, Justin Wong for many years, he (my teacher) has 15 years under his belt. Needless to say it doesn’t take quite that long to get to a competitive level, but basically “Rome wasn’t conquered in a day” Like me you understand what you need to do and you know where your problem areas are. So basically you just have to be patient and continue to practice. Not to quote the aforementioned teacher to many times but he once told me “You must practice everything in the training room every day. When you get to the point to where the thought of the training room makes you wanna puke, you gotta practice some more!” While I understand that games are supposed to be fun realistically its not all fun all the time. Especially for those of us who are seriously trying to rise to tournament level. But anything that worth attaining will not be easy my friend. Its ups, its downs, its a few wins, and a lot of losses. But everyone has to go through it EVERYONE. While theyre maybe a few who are born a little more gifted at fighters, don’t be fooled everyone starts at square one. The only difference is how we learn and each persons level of determination. So if you love fighting games, if you really want to learn, the only thing you can do is keep climbing. Once you start to see yourself improve after however long it takes. (this is individual) it will start to get fun again I promise. BUT BEWARE there are many walls to scale lol. Anyway I’ll stop rambling soon but one last thing lol. I’m now part of a team of players that are all learning to get better and striving for the same goal. (This is actually the source of the 2nd wall I’ve now hit and your post has help me scale! lol). So If your on Xbox live and would like to play with a group of people who are like minded and will help you, hit me up my GT is Visual Daedae. Good luck man!

Mostly by not giving up.

First off I want to say that winning and fun cannot be equaitable concepts if you intend to improve. If you just picked up a game and the other guys been playing for 2 months, 6 months, 1 year - you will not win. Even if you scrap one out they will take it from you right after. The thing that strikes me about people who ‘never improve’ is they don’t learn from their losses. They simply take it as given that something about the game is wrong[that’s cheap!] or something about them is wrong [its too hard…] and go into the next match the same way time and time again. And lose. Time and time again. Ask questions. Figure things out. Expand your knowledge and your skills. You have to find joy in that.

So the advice I would give you, and everyone else, is don’t take winning as the single standard of skill/value. Applaud yourself for things done right, and as they come together you’ll win more overall. Everyone loses a shitton when they start - when I started blazblue my record was an astonishing 0-50 before I finally hit positive digits on the left side. When I first started Tekken I played a 5 hour set with my experienced friend and probably came out with single digit wins to my name. When I took up AE it was in the arcade only so I PAID for my lessons. [thankfully I’m in China so its cheap as hell :P] If you can’t find the mental fortitude to seperate the two concepts of winning and improving then all I can say is give up because it just gets harder as you improve - but if you can I think you’ll find it pretty damn enriching.

well said man

I have been losing consistently for over a decade…:tup:

Lol i went to check that out and the gameplay looks interesting but ffs the loli drawn images are going to make that a troll’s wet dream.

Ok Op you first need to address if your being too defensive or too offensive.
A balance needs to be struck and obviously an understanding of the game’s engine is also important.

My advise to any new player is block block block and when in doubt block some more.
If you reversal on wake up more then 2-3 out of ten wake up’s the odd’s are your doing it wrong.
Just wake up and block some more until you start shining with some of that Japanese defense.

Are you trying to do longer combos and dropping them consistently?
I had that issue until i finally eliminated HD lag from the equation.
Stick with 3 hit bnb’s at least in 3s/AE until you can do them 10 out of 10 in training then more on to longer and better.
Are you able to link as opposed to chain your normal’s?

Jumping into a game with a 20 year history who’s core is very much intact and very evolved is not easy for anyone and takes time and dedication.

I advise offline ass beatings whenever possible,you will learn more from this then anywhere else.
VS the computer is stupid and not a good learning tool really.

Just do what I do: play casuals with friends and pretend that the match is just an advanced version of the training room with your friend’s character as the dummy. It takes away some of the stress that would’ve built up and you learn more situational tactics during the match. You may not win every match, but you’ll learn new things for helping you win down the road.

This like a mfer, I got my face fucked online because I was trying to do extended 1-frame link combos, I changed to solid 3-move hit confirm bnbs and my win rate skyrocketed. Playing defense/footsies properly will get you loads more wins than being able to do Desk combos.

Also, maybe this is just my opinion, but don’t buy in to online ranking systems. Outside of matchmaking purposes, they’re stupid. I think too much stock is put into winning or losing matches vs. randoms online, and not enough into trying new strategies/combos because people are afraid to give up their BP. I still lose a solid 80% of the matches I play(mostly because my execution sucks) so I don’t go in with the must-win mindset, instead I go in with specific goals like “tech every throw possible”, “get out of vortexes”, or “see if you can land that new mix-up”.

Playing to win is for tournaments, if you’re doing casuals/online and you’re not playing to learn or playing just to play a game you like, you’re doing it wrong.

I was a ~2500 PP Guile in SSF4 with a 55% win rate in ranked. The longest combo I ever did was J.HK Guile High Kick xx Flash Kick.

lol, such fraudulence…

I appreciate all the replies, although most of you aren’t actually answering my question. My question is NOT “how do I improve”, though I’ll certainly take the advice since you’re giving it. My question is “how do I stop being frustrated and start having fun again”? I don’t even care if that means that I lose every single match that I ever fight from this point on; I just want to have fun again. Thanks to everyone who’s replied, and thanks especially to those who have actually answered the question.

My gamertag is TwilightInZero (hold your dumb Twilight jokes; this handle existed long before that sorry excuse for a story did). I will likely join you at some point, daedae22.

Hey, I can relate somewhat to what you’re feeling. I’ve been there many times. I’d like to defer you to Raas’s post and what he says about finding the joy in analyzing and questioning your game. Fighting games are fascinating because they are not the kind of game you necessarily need to win at all the time in order to find some enjoyment. It’s about the small victories you get, such as reading a situation correctly or anti-airing consistently, and the milestones that you cross, like not jumping in for a whole match or keeping the pressure going. That’s how I see it at least. You mentioned something about working on your fundamentals, I’d start (actually I am at this point) by asking yourself whether or not you have solid fundamentals. If not, work on them one by one. For every one of those fundamentals that you become better at you should be feeling the enjoyment that you are getting somewhere.