Welcome to the second edition of my column entitled Hells to the Noes in which I discuss things whose absence from my life causes me no loss of sleep. Google tells me that opportunity cost is defined as “the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.” I just uninstalled Smite for the second time and I need to let off some steam while pondering the last three months I’ve spent playing this fine MOBA.
That’s not sarcastic at all, by the way. Smite is an excellent game. It has elements of MMOs, FPSs, and even Street Fighter wrapped up into a neat little package. It receives regular updates, balance patches, new Gods, skins galore, rewards – pretty much everything anyone who likes Shiny Stuff and a level playing field would ever want.
I’ve come to a point, however, where I’m thinking that it might not be the game for me. Central to this statement is the notion of opportunity cost and why doing other things with my time may very well prove to be more productive and satisfying. Forthwith, a brief review of the pros and cons of my time with Smite:
- You jump in and fight other people without prerequisites.
- There is a large god pool (currently 76) to choose from. All play styles are accommodated.
- It is fun, fast-paced, and skillshot based.
- It costs nothing if you don’t want it to. All purchases are optional. The Ultimate God Pack offers maximum bang for your buck.
- There are lots and lots of shinies to collect.
- It is primarily the domain of young men in their teens and twenties. I am none of those things.
- It is Serious Business competitive. This has inspired unparalleled toxicity on my part.
- While playing this game, time elapses at triple its normal rate.
- A large time investment is required (150+ hours) to achieve quality matches.
- Competitive matches are 25-50 minutes long. Penalties for leaving are substantial.
The last match I played before uninstalling for the second time was a blowout and not in our favor. I was playing a god I did not like in the hunter (ADC) role. The warrior rotated from the solo lane. Three enemy gods were in our lane. I landed a kill with a long-range ability and the warrior stopped playing long enough to type in the chat box to tell me not to ks (kill steal).
I went ballistic.
I’ll spare you the details of my rage. Suffice it to say that I was not a nice person. The warrior ending up leaving the 30-minute match early. Every surrender vote failed because I voted no so that I could get the maximum amount of worshipers out of the loss. That would mean getting to Rank 1 on that god as quickly as possible so that I would never have to play him again. I would only need to have him available for ranked play in order to hold him for another player before the enemy team had a chance to ban that god from that match.
In other words, I wasn’t playing that god because it was fun. I was playing it as a prerequisite for ranked play.
One hundred hours invested and I’ve mastered half of the god pool. If you really want to be a player in ranked, you need to have 100% of them mastered and therefore available for play. I’m at account level 30 and I have far more than 18 gods mastered – the minimum requirements for participating in ranked play – so why not just jump right into ranked?
Oh, hey, look, it’s that cognitive dissonance thing Jeromai was talking about. I want to be maximally effective and prepared – no, I must be maximally effective and prepared – before I start playing at a competitive level. At the same time, I’m not having fun. I’m generating large amounts of drama in-game. I’m encountering things that make my pulse race (good) and my blood pressure rise (bad). I want to have a nicely made bed with freshly laundered sheets while shitting in said bed.
Conflicting goals, conflicting desires.
What to do? There are other activities that offer rewards without the emotional roller coaster: writing, Secret Worlding (very low key), WvW in GW2. I joined a WvW guild and we run around getting points and fighting and defending. Time flows at its normal rate; it’s a positive social experience with what you would call a more “mature” crowd. Why not pursue that avenue for a while and shoo off the drama llamas?
It’s stubbornness in the face of those final two options for resolving cognitive dissonance. The solution I’ve proffered above is 2a) Changing the Belief or Actions. In this case, actions: I stop playing Smite. But there’s that 2b) Integration lingering there, looking me over and saying “You could be a more moderate person. You could play 1-2 games of Smite a day until you’ve mastered all the gods and then go play your favorites in ranked like you said you wanted to. Right? Your temper flares up, but you’re better than that. Just learn to control it.”
I don’t know. I only know binary solutions for these things. The house needs to be cleaned and there are weeds growing out on the front lawn. There are keeps to defend and siege, messed up stories to be found in the dark corners of Tokyo. All kinds of stuff that could be done with the time I would otherwise spend on improving my reflexes, mechanics, situational awareness, composure, shotcalling – the types of things that transfer positively to other games. Leadership characteristics. I feel like a bit of a failure for not persevering.
I’ll have to think on it.