I've always been a gamer. Since I was a kid, I knew it was something I loved doing, and it's still probably my largest past time to the day. When I was a tiny little thing, I played a lot of single player games, like Super Mario Land. When I was at friend's houses, I played a lot of multiplayer games, and I usually won. I would then proceed to talk some serious trash. We'd laugh, have good times, and this pattern carried on through high school.
Then I got to college, and was promptly taught just how much of a scrub I am.
Me and the rest of my ilk.
Y'see, when I was gaming, I was playing casually. I was never one to put serious effort into my multiplayer. For me, multiplayer was something where you took the easiest route to victory, and made it as quick as possible. Single player was where the real action was. That was the real time-investor, the real reason I bought a game. Multiplayer was always an afterthought. Something I wanted to win at, to be sure, but not something I was willing to put real time into winning at.
While it was great at the time, I realize now that my multiplayer patterns were not for the best. Since I grew up with kids who gamed considerably less than I did, it was understandable that I would have the advantage. What I failed to realize at the time was the larger scale. I thought I was a good Duck Hunt player because I was the best Duck Hunt player in the neighborhood. I did not realize that most people could successfully shoot way more than five ducks per round, because I'd never seen it happen. This was just the beginning.
In elementary school, Mortal Kombat was our fighter of choice. None of us had had any previous experience playing fighters, so when I by chance happened to discover how to freeze people with Sub-Zero, I was instantly the boss. No one could counter my deadly freeze-into-uppercut barrage. Again, I thought I was a master of Mortal Kombat. I could not pull off any Fatalities, but since none of my friends could either, I figured that they were something only the most elite of the elite could do.
And that was the thing. I never pinned myself to be "the best in the world." I've always known that someone better is out there. I just never realized how far down on the totem pole I really am. My first experience with this was in high school, and it was all about two games: Guilty Gear XX #Reload, and Garou: Mark of the Wolves.
This was my main. That tells you something.
Smash Bros. Melee was big in my school, but I was never a Melee fan. I was, and still am, a pretty big weeaboo, so I went straight for the anime fighters. Guilty Gear was the first one I went for, as there was a PC version... available in some form. I got thrashed by I-No at the end of the single player, and decided thereafter that I would only play Guilty Gear with friends during our lunch breaks. It was a popular thing to do, and I trashed on just about everyone with my Stun Edge abuse and low sweeps.
Except for one friend of mine, who was above me in every possible way when it came to fighters. He would thrash me continuously, and I was lucky to win a single round against the guy, much less a full game. I accepted that I was not the best in the town at fighting games anymore. It took me back a bit. Here I was, thinking I was the biggest hotshot gamer in town, and I had been shut down by a guy I had never played until just recently.
Now, most people would take this and realize "Wow, there must be a lot of people out there who are better than me. Guess I'm not as good as I thought." Not me. My thoughts were "Wow, he must be one of the elite! I know I'm not there yet, but I'm still pretty darn good." Yep, still thinking small world. Later on, I would play Garou with him as well, and he destroyed me in that too. I had the same thought process, since I could still beat just about everyone except him.
Fast forward a few years to my freshman year of college. I've been playing Guitar Hero since Guitar Hero 1 came out, and my campus throws a Guitar Hero tournament, on GH3. I win, but just barely. The final song is DragonForce, and my ability to altstrum consistently defeats my opponents ability to hit short little hammeron patterns. I again think I am a hotshot. In fact, I think I'm so hot I'm gonna take my skills to the online world. Boy howdy, did I learn something here.
Terrifying Expert players since 2008
In my first match online in Rock Band 2, I went up against some dude. He got first pick. He picked Visions. I was annihilated. At the time, I couldn't even pass Visions in solo quickplay. My delusions that it was something only "the best of the best" could do were proved wrong when I found out that all the guys I had played in that tournament could also pass Visions. One of my best friends could pass Visions. Suddenly, there were A LOT of people better than me at video games.
And I know exactly why. It was because I fell into the biggest scrub problem out there as a kid.
I didn't want to learn.
I never needed to. I won most of the time, and the times I didn't... psh, that's one exception, it doesn't count. It was some terrible thing that had been reinforced over time. I could put the bare minimum into my gaming effort and get a desired result. And rather than push myself to be all I could be, I was content with that bare minimum for about 16 years of my life. But that's changed since college started.
Today, I can look back at the way I behaved when I was younger, grimace, and realize that I've got a lot of catching up to do. Only now, I'm willing to work hard for it. I'm willing to practice. I'm willing to learn.