Thursday, November 28, 2013

For the Win

Everybody knows the cliché. A down-on-his-luck loser finds a golden ticket. A farmboy who dreams of adventure finds it and blows up a Death Star. The superhero is beaten down by the villain but finds enough strength at the last moment to save the day. The quarterback throws a winning touchdown pass and the team lifts him up on their shoulders as the crowd goes wild.

A funny thing about me: I've been that loser farmboy wannabe-hero for pretty much my entire life thus far. But I've never won anything. Never won a contest, never got a medal or a trophy. Now, I don't feel like I need to "win" most of the time. I often times actually prefer losing to winning in some board games because I really just like having fun with friends and not having to be the guy who makes everyone else at the table lose. However, occasionally I get super-competitive—completely obsessed with fighting as hard as humanly possible to win whatever it is I'm involved in. I think it comes down to whether or not it actually matters to me. A random game of Apples to Apples? I can stand to lose there; no problem. A swordfighting duel? Screw losing; I WILL ANNIHILATE.

To some extent, I think it's a matter of self-respect, or the lack thereof. Someone asked me recently when the last time was that I felt really, truly "special." I legitimately had to think about it for a while. The only solid answer I have is maybe my high school graduation in 2007. If I had to pick something more recent it might be when I got a letter in the mail from a friend on my birthday last year. But really, when I was asked that question, my first mental reaction was "well, I'm not special, so that doesn't apply."

I've lost a lot. Family, friends, my college career (somewhat). I've pretty much been gut-punched repeatedly by life. Every time I've been in a love triangle (a total of two times; I don't recommend it), I've been the guy not chosen. So much for the old "save the world, get the girl" routine.

People tell me I'm smart all the time. Female friends say they're confused as to why I'm single (but keep me at arm's length). Parents ask me what I'm up to as if they expect me to say I've published three books and solved the energy crisis by inventing a new form of math. By everyone else's indication, I should be a pretty special guy. But I haven't felt that way about myself in a very long time.

I really just want to win for once. To not be third best, left out, ignored, unwanted. I want that moment of triumph. I don't want to be better than anyone else; I don't want to be held up on a pedestal for all time. I just want to not entirely suck at everything.

One thing I actually am good at—not pro level, but still really good at—it's playing video games. Lots of my friends growing up were involved in sports, and some of them actually ended up doing really well with that. If video games were a sport, I could be the quarterback. I'd have been the guy winning all the games and getting cheered on by hundreds.

As it happens, my favorite show is a web series called Video Game High School. It's set in a version of our world where video games dominate modern culture. The so-named Video Game High School is, essentially, Hogwarts for video games: where kids go to learn to be better gamers. Instead of basketball and football, students join teams for First-Person Shooters, Drift Racing, Fighting Games, et cetera. Instead of sports championships, students have gaming championships. In short, it's a place where gamers aren't looked down upon as losers, but are recognized the same way everyone else is. It's a bizarre kind of fantasy world, but it's really fun. It's also got this fun 80s/90s teen movie/TV vibe (think Back to the Future and Saved by the Bell).
Go watch it on Netflix or search for it on Youtube. It's awesome.

So yeah, I didn't really have a point here. It was pretty much just "I want to win something / VGHS is awesome and you should go watch it."

Also this track by Two Steps From Hell has the same title as this blog post.