Relax, you’re doing fine

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Hey, listen up for a minute.

I’ve heard a lot of new players beat themselves up for being bad and not getting it. Take it from me: Everyone remembers being bad and not getting it, and eventually we got a little less bad and got it a little more. Chill out. We get good at these things one day at a time.

No one starts playing these games knowing exactly what to do to get better or how to break down a game to understand it more easily. These are skills that we developed through consistent practice, comparing notes with each other, and a lot of trial and error. You will develop them too, probably faster than we did.

Don’t worry about “catching up”. Fighting games can take a long time to get good at. Everyone starts from a different place, with different tools to use and experiences to draw from. While the games themselves may come and go, we will play each game with our same brain and hands, and they remember the lessons they learned from the games we’ve played before.

You’ll get there. It just takes time and practice. These games stretch and snap the human brain and body in so many different ways and we’ve barely begun to understand how to properly train ourselves to do this stuff right. Remember that someone who started with Street Fighter 4 has been playing fighting games for ten years by now.

You’re not wasting your time playing this character or that game. Play what you want to play. You’re playing video games. Consistency is good, but so is exploration. Play widely, and you’ll become more comfortable with a variety of tools, systems, situations, and matchups. Play deep, and you’ll get acquainted with techniques for changing your perspective and approach, making it easier to go deep on something else.

If you don’t do well at a tournament, that’s okay, you’re not wasting your time. Going to tournaments is good for you. Tournaments are the lens that let you focus your energy on improvement. If you do better than you expected at a tournament, good job! It’s okay if you don’t do as well next time. The people who matter don’t care, and the people who care don’t matter.

It’s not too late to start playing a game you want to play — in fact, it’s usually easier to learn games that have been out for a while, because you can rely on the learnings of more experienced players. And learning a different fighting game gets easier every time.

That combo you’re working on will come in time. Stick with it. Hard things are worth doing. Get into the habit of doing hard things. Relish the prospect of digging into something difficult. Over time, those hard things will feel easier, and you’ll have to find even harder things to get that feeling back. It’s like spicy food.

Spend the time you want to spend on it. If these games are important to your happiness, it’s okay to spend your time on them. If you have other things you want to prioritize, that’s okay too.

You don’t have to do everything all the time. Be a lab rat when you have something you want to work on; be a netplay monster when you feel like grinding some games. Play the story mode sometime (it’s fun!).

The only one who cares about how good you are, and how quickly you got there, is you. and whatever getting good means to you — whatever keeps you playing and working at it, whether it is joy or clout or validation or whatever — it only means that to you.

So pace yourself. Because once you get that thing you want, you’ll find that the important part was the process of getting there. Take care of yourself. Being unsatisfied with your play and being disappointed with your results can be a strong source of motivation to improve, but if you are stressed or nervous or anxious or otherwise finding bad vibes in the time you spend in and around fighting games, you should fix that first.

Just relax.

You’re doing fine.

Now go get ‘em.

Thanks for reading!


-patrick miller

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