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?