Overwatch. Some love, some hate it, but most everyone knows about it in some way. From the firefights and massive ultimate explosions to the bombastic fanfare that enters every match, Overwatch has lots of love baked into it by its developers, while also providing for epic experiences on a regular basis. With 29 heroes and counting, the diverse gameplay styles offered in Overwatch are second to none. Tanks, healers, damage dealers; every hero fits into a specific “role” within a team and achieves that goal through different means. Playable heroes like Torbjorn and Soldier: 76 are both classified as damage dealers, for example, and yet Torb deals damage via crafting and upgrading turrets on the battlefield, whereas Soldier deals damage by shooting his pulse rifle. So, there’s a lot of unique design space within the game for the developers to explore; and of course, some heroes are more “vanilla” than others. The developers recently released a hero called Ashe, another damage dealer, who’s been a blast to play. Her move-set is centered on her weapon, the Viper rifle, which separates her from more ability and spell-focused hero releases like Brigitte and Doomfist.
While every fight in the game won’t be perfectly balanced and competitive, most quick-play matches tend to be fine. And even the most frustrating matches boil down to a simple lesson of: don’t take the game too seriously. Most aggressors and trolls are easily ignored (or muted) once I take my head out of the game. This isn’t just for Overwatch, necessarily, but for most competitive games. I used to get more worked up over games than anything else, and yet it’s so much easier for me to take a step back now. I feel much more at ease while playing games thanks to this change in my mindset. I spoke about mindfulness a bit in one of my previous posts, and I’ve tried implementing mindfulness practices while playing games to help ease the mental stress of competition.
One of my most memorable and cherished moments from teaching is when some students discovered my old YouTube channel and my Play-of-the-Game highlight reels, featuring some less than stellar gameplay from myself. (I’ve never professed to be that good at Overwatch; I just find it fun to play with friends when they’re around.) They left a note on my desk after the last day of school, after playing hangman on loose paper for an hour. I remember smiling for the rest of the day after reading their note. It made me smile not just to see their recognition of my embarrassing plays, but also because it showed a level of gratitude and respect from them that I had been seeking all year, slowly but surely. It’s difficult to put into words, but even if they didn’t learn anything all year, I’m satisfied with this.
Teaching has always been connected to some form of self-validation, for me. Is it selfish, or just human nature, to seek appreciation from people over anything else? Ethically speaking, I guess it’s questionable, as students’ learning should always be number one, but as a person with complex emotions, it’s something I have a hard time preventing.
Want to play Overwatch sometime? I’m on PC. Leave a comment if you’re interested.