Ninja's Theory: Is it 'just' a game?


Promoted from our Community Blogs

[Uber-popular Fortnite streamer Ninja set a cat among the gaming pigeons several days ago with his comments regarding how players react and respond to defeat in games. In this community blog, Destructoid reader Chris Bradshaw weighs in with his personal opinion on this latest talking point.]

In the morning, between Monday to Friday, you’ll find me on the train riding to work and checking my Twitter feed. I just joined the social media site a year ago, and while I don’t have too much in the way of followers, or even people that I follow, I am usually able to read everyone’s tweets in a matter of minutes most of the time. Once Twitter is done showing me most of the tweets from who I follow, it’ll begin to show me topics that I may be interested in.

Among those topics, there are two that Twitter has recommended to me: “hip-hop news” and “gaming news.” How it works is Twitter takes the more popular tweets from the service and shows them to you. You don’t need to have followed them. Most of the time it comes from creators that have made a name for themselves online, but sometimes, it can be something as simple as a sentiment that people agree with.

The majority of Tweets that get the most action usually come in the form of very open-minded standpoints. They usually come in the form of someone saying something very accepting of all views and extremely inclusive of different types of gamers and play styles. Usually, they come in the form of, “it doesn’t matter ‘how/if/why’ gamer plays ‘x game,’ we’re all gamers.” Personally I find these tweets to be, while technically correct, typical. I never walk away with anything that really rocks my world. However, no matter how many times I’ve tried to unfollow the topic, it keeps coming back. (Probably Twitter is reading my thoughts.)

As a consequence, I came across that famous tweet that pretty much anyone hip to gaming news already knows about. And, it read as follows:

The phrase “it’s just a game” is such a weak mindset. You are okay with what happened, losing, imperfection of a craft. When you stop getting angry after losing, you’ve lost twice.

There’s always something to learn, and always room for improvement, never settle.

I read the tweet, shut off my phone, and fired up my Vita to play some VA-11 Hall-A. While selecting the tracks on the in-game virtual jukebox, I chewed on the thought.

The tweet was written by Ninja. He’s the most successful streamer to ever have done it and has a serious relationship with Epic Games and Mixer. Full disclosure though: on face value I don’t like Ninja, or rather, he doesn’t appeal to me. There’s something about him that seems so damn frivolous and shallow, rocking his blue hair and Red Bull bandana while playing Fortnite. Despite knowing damn well he’s a millennial, everything about him strikes me as stereotypical Gen Z-style surface level goofiness. I don’t even hate it, but it’s not my style at all.

But, what bothers me more than anything is that Tweet. Call me a judgemental, jaded fuck, but honestly, I can’t take any serious gaming standpoint from a guy who plays three games and comes of as the Tekashi69 of streamers. Personally, I don’t think he’s teaching anyone anything. However, despite what I might think, people love him, and in his defense, I have not watched any of his material yet. He could be wonderful.

I began thinking of the statement by itself. There’s definitely something fundamentally wrong with the viewpoint that strikes me and pretty much everyone feels the same way. He stated, “When you stop getting angry after losing, you’ve lost twice.”This part right here to me is where the mistake is, and it’s childish. Now, I don’t know if he was saying something like that for shock value, but I hope he doesn’t actually believe something like that.

I have never met an expert, in any craft, in my life that claimed that it was beneficial to lose their cool. I’ve always been under the impression that reacting like that demonstrates a lack of sureness of knowing what you’re doing. It reveals a lack of the steadiness that comes with a supposed expertise in the craft, and this logic applies to everything that someone could hone their skills in: music, sports, debate, and even goofy Fortnite streaming.

What bothers me even more about the Tweet though is how that statement is fortified with the sentences that comes before and after it. He finishes the tweet with the line “There’s always something to learn, and always room for improvement, never settle.”

Correct. But, in my opinion, he’s conflating learning and growing in the craft with non-productive over-reactions on camera. Anger about your inadequacy doesn’t improve your ability to learn. At a minimum, you won’t be clear-headed enough to see all the options laid in front of you. Trust me, I know.

In my experience, people who are angry usually go into tunnel vision and go on the defensive. How many people do you know, when losing an argument, that will do anything in their power to prove a shallow point at all cost regardless if it’s wrong? Especially in politics, aplenty.

I’m pretty sure most people agree with the point I’ve made about anger never being that productive to growth.

However, let’s take a look at the statement before that crap. More specifically the statement “The phrase ‘it’s just a game’ is such a weak mindset.”

I know I’ll probably be nailed to the cross for this, but I believe that there’s some truth to what’s being said here. Some.

I say this because I personally believe it. My life has basically become a legacy of people telling me that “it’s just a game.” When people tell me this, I can’t help but feel that this statement has undertones of dismissing something that I care about. It’s always been like that.

Throughout my life, I’ve had people, over and over, say that there should be this “healthy” attitude toward something I’m super passionate about — in my case, video games.

While I understand how video games can appear frivolous to most people, as they are something that is considered leisure, some people in this business take this craft seriously. I don’t expect someone as involved as Ninja is to take a very “regular” view on what gaming ought to be to the masses. I sympathize with him and others. I don’t think that gaming should be boxed into a certain degree of passion. Personally, I will plainly say that I would die for gaming, and if that’s not enough, I will happily state that everything I am and everything that I will be has everything to do with gaming. It’s literally my whole existence.

You have to do what it takes in order to be a true expert in the craft in my opinion. If I’m not busy drinking, I surround myself with gaming at least 15-ish hours a day, every day (8 hours being work), and I have no regrets. I’m playing all sorts of things left and right, working on a stream, working on a game, and working at a gaming company, and now, I’m writing this gaming blog. This is my life’s work, and I couldn’t be anything else if I tried.

Where I have a problem with the statement, and this might be because his world is so removed from what’s normal, is how he conflates that passion he has for his craft with strength because he’s angry. I think the tweet would have read a lot better if he wrote “The phrase ‘it’s just a game’ is such aflawedmindset.” and go on to talk about how many hours he commits to his streaming, and it’s in fact valid. This would be a lot better.

In the end I never got around to making any progress in VA-11 Hall-A. While my earbuds connected to my Vita and were in my ears, this Tweet consumed my thoughts until the final stop. During the train ride, I just ended up looking at scenery outside the train window, looking for the substance in that Tweet.

It seems like an odd take from a 28-year-old man, but I’ve seen worse. Personally, I’m the king of hot takes. Again, maybe it’s just a lack of exposure that comes with the territory of what he does. Maybe it’s because his girlfriend finally asked him to calm down. Maybe it’s because he’s tired. Maybe it’s because Fortnite Chapter 2, Season 2 comes out tomorrow.