On the first play of my first ever match in Rocket League, I accidently nudged the ball into my team’s goal, scoring for our opponents. What followed after that was a series of horribly off-timed flips and turns that resulted in me never touching the ball again for the remainder of the game. After our loss, one of my teammates then offered commentary on my sexual orientation before swiftly making his exit.
I’m not really what one would call a huge fan of online multiplayer games, but even I know that experiences like that sort of come with the territory, especially when trying to learn something new. I have no doubt that next week will be a similar process when I venture into Overwatch, blindingly shooting at players that are seconds away from killing me and letting down my whole team.
But the reason that Rocket League works is just how fun it can be, even in defeat. The wild swings help; you rarely feel as if can’t make up a big lead, knowing that one good play could change the whole course of a match. A good number of my subsequent games were one-sided affairs, either glorious or embarrassing depending on what group I was thrown in, but even feeling ineffectual as an offensive threat, throwing cars at a giant ball is just plain fun. Perhaps I was just inhabiting my own little world, unable to hear the cursing of my teammates as my inner child yelled “WEEE!”, flinging myself in the general direction of a ball that had likely already been intercepted. I didn’t care, telling myself that anyone that took their car soccer seriously most likely wasn’t playing in matches with random rookies like me anyway.
Of course, once I started winning, the tide changed. A wave of competitive fury took over me. Suddenly, I was competent; a relentless defender that would blow you the fuck up if you even dared look at my goal. Sometimes I was the only member of my team that scored at all, murmuring under my breath when my teammates were out of position for a save. I would get frustrated. I need hustle, guys. I’m here to WIN. Are you here to WIN? That’s a rhetorical question implying that I require you to also want to WIN.
After about a half hour of that, I was knocked back to reality, losing a 7-0 shutout that ended with me missing a wide open shot into the goal in the last few seconds.
In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have tried that fancy flip shot. In further retrospect, I’m really not here to win.
Maybe don’t play Rocket League with me.