Losing is one of the most difficult things to deal with. A loss implies that you are wrong- your methods are wrong, your thinking is wrong. It suggests that- if I am wrong about this, what else am I wrong about? It can be a crippling, destabilizing event that damages your ego into disrepair.
But what about when you’re ready to change? What happens when you accept your loss for what it is, and you’re ready to begin to fight earnestly? You must throw away guilt and honor and social regard for others. As it turns out, the path to glory is only fit for the ruthless.
Do whatever it takes to win.
Spam your opponent mercilessly with the same move. Play dirty with ringouts, CE traps, and self-perpetuating okizeme situations. Disrespect your opponent to get him to lose his temper. Teabag, taunt, and overkill his corpse.
Anything goes. Honor does not have a meaning in this game.
Now listen carefully- I don’t mean you should log off now and start running naked in the streets.
Honor your opponent in real life, but not in the game.
Imagine being at a tournament. You sit down, plug your controller in. You look your opponent in the eye, you shake his hand. It’s good sportsmanship. Maybe you make some small talk before the match.
On that TV screen, you do the virtual equivalent of killing his parents, eating his children, and raping his wife. I’m talking total war, Genghis Khan, heads on stakes, streets run red. Guys with gas masks and flamethrowers. Burn everything. Flip open the glass cover and smack the big red button.
Scorched earth, nuclear winter, blackened sky, glass craters. Complete and utter annihilation.
In real life, you turn to him and say, “Good game”, and then shake his hand. Maybe go and eat dinner together or hang out and chat afterwards.
In a strange way, fighting in a no-holds-barred, “dishonorable” fashion in the game
Holding back your cheap and dirty (read- your strongest) tactics implies that you think less of your opponent, that you do not show him your true strength, all that you have when you are pushed to your limit and nothing else exists besides your desire to win.
“Not fighting seriously would be disrespectful.”
(We do not cheat, or physically harm our opponents because we are civilized men; this is 2012. But were we barbarians, this would be fair game as well.)
The problem is focusing on the now.
If you are trying to win now, you are not trying to get stronger. If you do not get stronger, you will not win in the future.
The only way to get stronger is to do things differently than you are now. Doing new things means you won’t be as good as when you were doing old things (you mess up because you’re trying new things). While you’re messing up, your opponent is probably playing their best- so you’re getting hit.
Thus, you lose until you become better.
The only way to get stronger is to lose. You can lose in practice mode, you can lose in the field, but you must lose somewhere.
(For you FMA fans- that’s the real-world application of Equivalent Exchange.)
The best way to focus on winning is to not focus on winning.
When you are truly focused on winning, you are focused on losing. Or rather- you are focused on learning. Without loss, without taking the time to learn, every day, every chance you get, continuously, you may win now, but you cannot win later. As you learn more, you win more- but you mustn’t stop learning, not for anything or anyone.
After a while of following this… wins and losses become meaningless; there is no joy, no pain, no emotion tied to winning or losing, they are just outcomes and nothing more. You improve as you go, enjoying the process along the way. You are just playing the game and nothing else.
It is not about winning or losing. It is about fighting. It is about the thrill of battle. It is about the adrenaline. It is about knowing yourself, knowing your limits, and pushing past them, gritting your teeth and straining until blood begins to run from your eyes. This is the answer to the question “What is the meaning of life?” It is to struggle. It is the experience… of being human. Of conflict.
This is why you play.
Not to win, but to live.
Forget about winning and losing… then you can start to see-
Fighting as communication.
You never know a man until you fight him.
It’s easy when your mind is clear and you are not wrapped up in the chains of anger and desire to make fast friends with your opponents. Because- you have fought to the death with them… Through multiple lifetimes.
We are descended from barbarians, savages, animals, after all. Violence is what we are attracted to, violence is what we understand. Violence is the basest language that all humans speak.
And you have spoken volumes with your opponent in battle. French, German, Korean, Portuguese- it matters not. Because we are talking in the universal language- and everyone understands the meaning of a cold blade and a boot to the face.
You’ve peeked into their mind, you know their limits, their strengths, their tenacity. Their essence. You know them.
It is much deeper than a layman’s friendship.
It is respect.
This is the true brilliance of fighting games- the enlightenment from brutal violence, the purity of war- and nobody has to die or get hurt.
Splendid, isn’t it?