Are You Ready? —— Reading Response for “Competitive Video Game Play: An Investigation of Identification and Competition”

“Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable.”
Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

“Competitive Video Game Play: An Investigation of Identification and Competition” is a research article, analyzing how opponent saliency, team identification, and competitive outcome affect the overall level of enjoyment and hostility during the experience of playing competitive video games, especially sports game. The paper follows a structure similar to a lab report, an abstract, introduction, main and conclusion. Although the result turns out to be that identification doesn’t contribute to either enjoyment or hostility, I believe that identification leads to a sense of pressure in competitive sports (action) games, both in virtual world and reality, which is an indication of a sense of responsibility. The definition of identification is the process of evaluating one’s social identity, which is “that part of the individuals’ self-concept which derives from their knowledge of their membership of a social group (or groups) together with the value and emotional significance of that membership.”

If life is a grandiose game, all of us are just mere nobodies, fighting for self-interest, in order to gain tiny footings in this hustle and bustle world. With every step we take, we have to play it safe because this game only has one trial, either go big or go home. Human beings are not afraid of failure itself, but the consequences it brings.

“Ready Player One” is an action science fiction written by Ernest Cline. The timeline of the story was set in 2045, a future with desolate environment and doomed atmosphere. Seeking for escapes from the reality, more and more people began to indulge in a virtual game called OASIS. In this game, players could create their avatars that were totally different from their real-life identities. The inventor of this game, Mr. Halliday, designed a harsh task: the players had to find three keys as they advanced in the game. After that, they would receive the Easter Golden Egg, which bestowed them the ownership of the game. The protagonist, Wade was an orphaned teenager who spent most of his time in OASIS, hanging around with his friends and doing car races. At the beginning, he was nobody but a normal boy. However, his sincere admiration for Halliday drove him to pursue the glory. His intelligence and bravery helped him get the first key, which made him become the center of attention in the virtual world. Several players were willing to be his team mates in order to achieve the goal together. As the game became harder and harder, Wade’s life was facing more and more danger, since other evil characters began to intrude into his real life. Meanwhile, his sense of responsibility to protect his friends, the desire for glory and victory, and fear of being conspired burdened him with stress and pressure.

From this example, we could clearly see how Wade was struggling during the process of identification, starting with being a nobody, gaining fame and reputation in the virtual society, becoming a member of a team, fighting for the benefit of the group as a whole, and finally accepting the ultimate glory in the real life. This process was full of challenges, requiring Wade to continuously update recognition of his own social identity in a short period of time, from a carefree teenage boy to a decisive, responsible and wise team leader, which made him under a lot of pressure. Although this example is just a fiction, the theory utilized here could be applied to real life situation: identification could result in pressure and stress in competitive sports game.

When I was in high school, my favorite sport was hockey. I started to participate in my school’s intramural hockey competition in grade 11. At that time, I had never learned how to play hockey. However, my captain and teachers encouraged me to take part in the first play of my team. I could clearly recall every detail of that day, the day when I got my first goal. My friends were applauding my incredible athletic talent. My teammate gave me a solid high five. A powerful impulse passed through my blood, refreshing my nerves! After that, my team kept winning and got the intramural champion.
As a novice, I didn’t really feel the pressure of competition at that time because all the things I had done were fresh and boosted my curiosity. Having competitions was just a way for me to practice my athletic skills. Even if I didn’t do well, nobody would blame an inexperienced girl.

In grade 12, my teacher appointed me to be the captain of my team. That’s when I started to feel the pressure of competition because I realized the important duty of being a sports team leader. Being a leader means you not only need to have good skills and perform well in the fierce games, but also have to be a role model, who brings positive energy and unites the team members all the time no matter how strong the opponents are. Besides that, I had once tasted the glorious moment of being a champion, so I set more rigorous standards for myself. Sometimes I began to lose faith on the court, but when I thought about my team, I told myself to be strong and persist, since my emotion would affect the whole team’s atmosphere.

The emotional and physical contributions that we make for our societal groups makes them crucial for us and decide partly who we are, since we all long for a sense of belonging and want to be accepted by our peers. Even though that means we may feel pressure sometimes, acting according to others’ expectations, the pressure itself becomes the underlying foundation for a sense of responsibility.

The charisma of game is that it has unlimited trials. We don’t need to pay price for our failures and mistakes, but a game is a game. All the achievements we’ve made in it won’t be real. The aggression and violence we demonstrate before frustrations in game represents our desire for winning. The true winners are the one who view pressure and stress as motivators that push them ahead.

The mystery of life is that it only has one chance. The true competition has just begun. Are you ready?

“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real.”
Ernest Cline, Ready Player One


Image Source

The Use of VR In the Production of Ready Player One and How STARAMBA Is Bringing VR to the World [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from player one&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiw46qezL7eAhWQGDQIHffnCYIQ_AUIDygC&biw=1280&bih=612#imgrc=tQM6I1zL7wQ97M:

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