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Are you in a position where you know that you will never be better than someone you know personally? In my opinion, it's one of the most heart-wrenching feelings in the world, knowing that you won't matter in a world fueled solely by competition and self-betterment. There’s no real physical incentive to be the best other than to legitimately claim that you are just that.
For most gamers, however, that isn't a problem. If you’re playing alone, it’s easier to accept your view that you are good in a videogame. When challengers come to overthrow you, the adrenaline kicks in and you strive to get him to take back his claims. The competitive spirit between gamers is something to be admired. A good competitor can say “good game” to his adversary regardless of the outcome. If he wins, it affirms his position in the leaderboard. If he loses, he thanks the champion for a good fight and goes off to refine his game. However, when the challenger lives with you, always around to remind you that you will never win at all hours of the day, the enthusiasm turns to enmity.
I have two older brothers: one aged 27, the other turning 21 next week. This essay concerns my gaming relationship with the latter. (My 27-year-old brother is much more advanced in games than either of us, since he’s the only one who ever touched an actual NES, so there’s no need to discuss that.) I don't deny that my brothers are superior to me in all but one aspect. I would call it my one saving grace, and were this any other Web site you might even agree with me. As has been proven throughout gaming history, however, it's an attribute that doesn't mean much in the competitive arena. Anywhere else, it’s my best quality and the one thing that sets me apart in my family. My one advantage over either of them was intellect.
My brother barely made it through high school graduating with a GPA only few points above the threshold. He frequently came to me for help with his homework and anything involving technology that he wasn't interested in. Despite this, he knows enough about computers to get a job at a technology company, but not enough to resist calling me for particularly difficult subjects. That was a few years ago; right now he works at Office Max for a much smaller wage than his previous jobs at the technology company and a bank. The bank job paid the best but the strain of being on the receiving end of angry targets of collection calls gave him the idea to quit by not showing up at work for a week. He's currently in community college for a career in auto repair.
However, as time passed, my tastes in games changed, and I started playing shmups, fighting games (to a limited extent), Metal Slug and many of the “hardcore” games I missed out on during the better part of my childhood. As could be expected, my competitive brother wouldn’t have it. He soundly had the upper hand in all of the conventional genres, but where he surprises me even to this day is his command of the strategic and puzzle games I called my own for so long.
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