Gamers aren’t known for being the most intelligent people around…

While IQ may be at an all time low, I think there’s actually a wealth of emotional intelligence (EQ) within competitive gaming. It’s un-gamer to even talk about this, but there’s some words in the gaming vernacular that give language to some complex emotions:

  • nerf - a stat decrease, something that was good is now worse due to an externality
  • buff - a stat increase, something that was bad is now better due to an externality
  • salty - ambient negativity, usually apparent in language and outbursts.
  • toxic - active negativity to the extent that words or behaviors effect the well-being of the game/group.
  • tilted - angered to a point where it’s negatively effecting your personal performance.
  • meta - what’s popular, typically a character or weapon that is has a high pick rate and/or offers some competitive advantage.
  • meta shift - when the existing meta changes due to nerfs, buffs, or newly discovered techniques.
  • mental - your state of mind, mental game, e.g. “protect your mental”.
  • chalked - dead, done for, broken, not worth pursuing.
  • blender - a series of repeating failures, e.g. “I’m in a blender”
  • game sense - your understanding of the map or environment, positioning, enemy assessment, and win conditions
  • psychic damage - long lasting damage effects that last multiple rounds (this one is from D&D)

Through gaming, I’m attuned to what it feels like to be tilted. I’m know when upset — a hijacking of my amygdala — and I know that makes me play bad and then I’m more upset and I play worse… a classic negative feedback loop. Squadmates can sense this in each other too and can try to help each other reset (or call each other out), but sometimes turning off the computer is the best course of action.

Taking that into my daily life, knowing when I’m tilted —whether it be by some meeting, a global pandemic, or a child whittling on your last nerve— I know that feeling. Because of gaming, I know when I need to reset, I know how to reset (read, sleep), and I find myself having an easier time stepping back. I know when I have an unnecessary, salty, bitchy attitude about some predicament. I can almost taste it. Acknowledging when I’m in a blender helps let the psychic damage roll over me, like diving under a crashing wave. Get through it, it’ll turn around.

The concept of meta shifts is interesting too. When a meta shifts in a video game it can be frustrating that your old tricks and characters don’t work anymore. It’s feels like you lost all game sense and your controller no longer works. Extrapolating that to meta shifts in technology has given verbiage to something I felt in my work life but couldn’t articulate. That feeling when the tools I use and the technology I’ve invested in are no longer cool any more, or even talked down upon. When the meta shifts on you, you feel irreparably behind the curve and you’re crushed with the feeling you need to re-learn everything to level up your skills on the new meta. It’s exhausting, leads to burnout, and you want to uninstall yourself from tech; but I think there’s power in understanding you’re in a meta shift.

Cooperative games (video, tabletop, etc) also give you an understanding that each person in an organization has a role to play. A lot of games you select a character class and you learn that how you measure performance looks different. A DPS (damage per second) player should deal damage, a tank player should take damage, and a support player should remove damage. There’s not one uniform metric for success, if you measure solely on damage dealt that skews the reality of how success happens.

Bringing this full circle, even your worst performing player — who it would be easy to throw under the bus — might be adding immeasurable value…

Adding value as “the anchor”. That’s some EQ for ya.