Life Lessons from Overwatch, by Kandicage

Posted by Amna October 4, 2019 in Blossoms Thoughts

I was splayed across the sofa after my first 2 hour session of Overwatch. I guess it was amusing enough that my husband had to take the most flattering picture of me in my comatose state. I had ridiculous amounts of fun but my brain was fried. Playing the game was like learning to drive a stick shift while texting and driving at 100 mph. I also felt like I had been standing on a boat rocked by a hurricane. That’s my way of saying that motion-sickness got the better of me. The last time I picked up an FPS game was Quake and it was on console. FPS games have evolved into beast mode and I had not evolved with it. It took me over two years to pick Overwatch up again.

In that couple of years, my world got rocked and most everything I had worked hard for fell away and I was left with creating from scratch. Transitions I find are hard. Nothing is comfortable or familiar especially if the future is uncertain. One thing was certain though…Overwatch was there for me. Determined to conquer this game I stared down my husband’s gaming computer, sat down, and picked Orisa. I have a special place in my heart for her. She’s awkward, she’s new at this, she wants to do good and she and Overwatch taught me the basics of FPS based games and some basic life lessons. Here are some things I have learned:

1. I wanted very badly to play Overwatch and be good at it. It wasn’t the right time the first time I picked it up. Circumstances would have made Overwatch a burden and frustrating if I had tried to bulldoze my way through the game. The door opened the second time around when my life was in chaos. Now I have more time to play and work at it. I’m far from being good at Overwatch. Ironically part of the reason why is because my timing (response time) is not great (yet)! What’s important though is knowing that something that I want now but can’t have will likely to show up later at a better time when I’m ready. Life lesson learned: Timing Is Important.

2. At an early age I threw out my dreams of being an astronaut because going up and down on a swing would make Mothras flutter in my tummy. Later, I was convinced I was cursed because I would get off a roller coaster and feel like I had a hangover (without the fun of drinking). Motion sickness is my enemy. Playing Overwatch would send me into a motion sickness pit of despair. Nothing was going to stop me from playing though! Ginger pills and an occasional Fernet Branca (an amaro aka a fancy word for insanely bitter herbal tasting liquor that really should be relabeled medicine) would keep my nausea at bay long enough for me to finish playing several games. Eventually I didn’t need either anymore. Except I pass on playing Hammond or Lucio because those two cuties still make my stomach roll. Life lesson learned: You Can Adjust to Anything With Enough Time and Practice.

3. Arthritis runs in my family. I’ve been doing everything I can to delay it’s hold on me but I’m at that age where it’s catching up. One day my pinky was swollen, flaring up, and bright red. A slight caress would send Thor sized lightening bolts through my hand up my arm. It was intense. I didn’t get to play Overwatch yet that day and I was not going to let this get in the way. Did I mention that I have anxiety and playing OW will have it go through the roof because I don’t want to let my team down? When it happens that we’re in a tight situation (which seems like almost all the games) my heart races, I go cold, sometimes my hands shake, and I feel like I’m going to jump off a cliff. That is basically my body dumping tons of adrenaline into my system. Guess what? Arthritis responds well to adrenaline. I noticed after closing down my game that my arthritis went away in my pinky finger! In general, I don’t feel arthritis at all anymore. Remember that saying? An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Replace that with Overwatch and that’s my mantra. When I go play OW, I”ll tell my husband that I need my anti-arthritis therapy. Life lesson learned: Playing Video Games Is Beneficial to Your Health.

4. I’m used to getting things done on my own. I’m an only child. I’ve competed in individual sports. When I ended up with a group project, I’d end up directing and doing most of it. I’m a perfectionist and strive to be the best. I don’t like relying on anyone else. Then I enter into the world of competitive team FPS. In this world, I’m not a perfectionist as much as I try. I mess up. I strive to be the best but I realized quickly I’m not and that it’s not always about individual talent in OW. I don’t stand out in a group . Maybe no one stands out in the group but once in a while there’s a synergy with a bunch of random people that play well together. Get the right people in your corner and you can elevate your level of playing to be so much better than by yourself. Teamwork is not so bad after all. Granted, in the game you have to have willing participants and not everyone is going to play nice. It’s made me think though that this works in real life. Be selective about the people in my life. On the flip side, there are people that are not going to belong or be nice. Just mute them and move on especially in the Game of Life. Life lesson learned: In the Game of Life, Find the Right Teammates and Life is Better.

5. My girl, Orisa, gave me so much confidence as I was learning Overwatch. Then I was crushed. I was getting Play Of The Games, getting validated with endorsements, I was feeling good and then I hit level 25. I was playing with my daughter at the time. Being much more of a dare devil than me, she really wanted to play Competitive and get a gun. I reluctantly obliged and my hands were never sweatier. Does anyone remember level 25? I don’t think anyone I know has been that level for ages. Naivety has its advantages. I thought I was relatively good. I thought I knew the maps. I thought I knew what I was doing. Boy was I wrong! Maybe I was playing with smurfs (people that are actually higher level than is indicated by their account), maybe not. It doesn’t really matter. I got humbled and frustrated. In game the more I tried to get back to my highest level, the more I fell. What I had forgotten about in real life is that every time I climbed, if I crested a peak, and then plateaued there was a new peak to conquer that was harder or that was different than the last. I would be constantly frustrated. Also even though I reached a peak I didn’t fully enjoy it once I got there because I was looking at the next peak. The same concept applies to this game. I think it’s one of the reasons I loved it so much and sometimes so scornful about it. There is so much to learn and master. It’s not easy but I certainly don’t get bored. These days I’m more concerned about learning how to be a better player at my level than leveling up. I’m learning that the destination (a level, a goal, etc.) is important to have and obtaining it is momentary and sometimes fleeting. If I learn to enjoy the journey of getting there instead of obsessing about the next peak, it makes everything so much more fun. Life lesson learned: Learn To Love The Journey More Than The Destination.

6. I’ve heard of toxicity in game and have come across it. It became a concern to me when my 12 year old daughter started playing with me. Do I give her a headset and mic or not to “protect” her from potential toxicity? This was a hard one. I’ve never shied away from explaining to her the realities of life. Toxicity is one of them. In our real lives, we’ve had to walk away from several people that are toxic. I’ve come to understand that they became that way because they were not afforded kindness in their lives probably starting in their childhood. We can have compassion for them but It doesn’t excuse their actions and it doesn’t mean that we need to accept it. I’ve had the privilege of hearing Mike Morhaime, one of the founding members of Blizzard, speak on a few occasions. He’s a kind man that also addressed kindness in our communities. He’s championed kindness for video game makers and gamers.

Morhaime has said, “When we started Blizzard, we just wanted to make great games. What we realized is that the games we create are really just a framework for communities and human interaction. When we look back, what we often find that’s most lasting and meaningful from our experiences in games are the relationships we create and foster. You have given me the inspiration and drive to pour my heart and life into what I do. I literally couldn’t have done any of it without you. We have created these worlds, but you have given them life, through your passion, fan art, cosplay, videos, and in so many other ways.”

He added, “I truly believe that this amazing community has the potential to be a shining light to the rest of the industry by setting a positive example of inclusivity, tolerance, and acceptance toward others. In the words of one of Blizzard’s core values: remember to always play nice; play fair. I know this community is capable of changing the world.”

Taking on the spirit of Morhaime’s speech, I’ve been teaching my daughter to be nice and play fair. When someone doesn’t reciprocate, mute them or walk away but don’t let them interfere with her game or life. I tell her to respond with kindness even if she gets salt in her eye. I say these things to her and I hope she has much more command of her boundaries than I do. I admit, I’m sensitive. As a solution, I’ve looked to find those shining nuggets of light where it’s a community having fun together and supporting each other. Luckily I stumbled upon a nice cozy home with The DeathBlossoms and DeathBlossoms Friends. I love that members from across the world that once were strangers have become a family of sorts with common interests that get together to support one another and have a great time. I think it’s safe communities like this that will plant the seeds of kindness and where meaningful relationships can be created. There may be many salty players out there but with patches of kindness sprouting out, I think we can make Mike Morhaime proud. Life Lesson learned: Kill Them With Kindness.