Friday, June 08, 2007

Two Tix Forward: Zone vs. Tilt

Zone vs. Tilt

Being "In the Zone" is pretty much cliche by now, but it still is the best way to describe a certain way you feel in competition...when everything is going your way, when you feel like you CAN'T you're invincible. Usually people only use this as a sports analogy, but I feel it's an appropriate term in any competition.

For example...when I was a junior in High School, I was in a Water Polo tournament up in Ann Arbor, MI. Traditionally, we had struggled in Ann Arbor (but always played well in Lansing...go figure.) Anyway, the whole drive to the event I had the headphones going, Metallica I'm sure, and I was psyched. During the game...I was in the zone. Everyone around me seemed to be moving slower...the net seemed huge...I couldn't hardly miss. I scored 6 points in the first half. Keep in mind, a normal final score for a Water Polo match might be something like 5 - 4. But again, I was in the zone.

A couple of years ago I was at Origins playing HeroClix and it happened again. I was playing in small Battle Royal events...essentially an 8 man event where only the last person with figures standing survives. I think I won 3 out of the 5 events I played that day, coming in 2nd and 3rd the other two times. The zone opened up around me....I saw every option my opponents had clearly...I made no mental strategy felt impeccable, and my luck rolled along with me. In one match...I took one hit period during the entire ordeal, while dispatching my opponents left and right.

Then...there is Tilt. Tilt is that opposite feeling...when you've lost control, and you mentally spiral away from any sort of competitive edge. And just like the Zone...the tilt can visit you in any form of competition, whether it be sport or game.

I remember playing in a Gus Macker (a 3 on 3 basketball tournament)...probably as a freshman in college. We were in the first game...and we were being outplayed. But instead of trying to raise my own level of play, I just started getting mad instead...mad that I was missing shots, mad that the guy I was covering couldn't miss. As I let my emotions go sour...I played worse, not better, and we lost big time.

A gaming instance of tilt occurred in the finals of a WWE Raw Deal tournament a few years back...I had played well all day, and my first opponent in the finals should have been a favorable match-up for me. But, within the first turn, he had some good plays, I had some bad ones, and I lost my mental game just like that. Instead of playing on and trying to salvage the game intelligently, I simply "played it out" and lost in short order.

So...bringing this does it relate to playing Attacktix? Obviously zone and tilt can happen in ' Tix play as well. Hopefully you don't find yourself on tilt when playing fun games with your friends. But...if you ever attend a tournament, don't be surprised if you find yourself feeling the pressure of competition. If you're in a tournament, and you find yourself in the zone...congrats, you're probably going to win a lot of games.

But what if you're on tilt? What if anything can you do to pull yourself out of that spiral? There are a couple of things I would suggest. One, be aware of your emotions during the game...if you find yourself getting mad, you are probably heading towards tilt. Missing attacks and losing games happens, but getting mad at your opponent for playing well won't help your mindset. If you find yourself getting worked up in a negative way, take a mental time out, count backwards from 10, take a couple of deep breaths, refocus on the task at hand. Another thing that helps, if one of your friends is watching your game and sees you heading towards tilt, have them say something to you to try and snap you out of it...a simple "hey, it's just one missed attack, there's a lot of game left" coming from a good friend might be all it takes for you to decompress and move on. And finally, if you get blown out in a game and you feel worked up in a negative way afterwards...the worst thing you can do is take that negativity in with you to the next game. Take the time between matches to instead reflect on what you can better next time, and analyze your opponents plays and see what you can learn going forward.

Attacktix is a contest like any other...if you invest yourself in game-play, it is sure to have an impact on your emotions. But it is a game, and it should be fun...never lose sight of that.

Two Tix Forward is a new weekly column by webhead, member of the Attacktix design team. Check in every Friday to see what is new! Click here to see all of webhead's articles.

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