I don't want MMR — I want self-esteem
I think my definition of what's "fun" has been severely miscalibrated. Ranked is a newsletter about fixing that, and figuring out how we push ourselves towards growth.
This section of my newsletter, Ranked, is about excising a tumour, and learning more about myself in the process. It’s about learning how to learn things without external pressure, and growing as a person. It’s about identifying the difference between persevering, not out of obligation, but genuine interest.
It’s about whether we let wins or losses define us, and what happens to our brain when we see a magic number go up.
Ranked is about getting better.
If this is your vibe, consider subscribing.
I'll be honest: I think my definition of what's "fun" has been severely miscalibrated.
Out of a desperation to find a place in the content world, I've taken almost every opportunity to turn hobbies into something to make things about. This is obviously a mistake, mostly because it defeats the purpose when it comes to learning and growing: you're introducing a ton of extra pressure, and that's going to affect your enjoyment.
You become focused on your progress and the implications of that lack of focus, rather than the act. You burn out, and then you give up.
This is what happened with BetterDota, a project I ran a couple years ago. I wanted to basically turn my journey to get better at Dota 2 into a product, but I wanted to divorce it from needing to be a professional player.
In theory, people would be able to find something familiar about what I was trying to do. I think it actually worked pretty well, but a combination of general anxiety and resentment led me to a similar question I'm asking myself now:
"Why am I actually doing this?"
Ranked is about answering that question, and also learning to trust the answer. It's about being able to talk to people who don't (or do!) have that nagging question, and how they grow from it.
It's about shoving away the personal judgment that comes with wondering what it says about you when you find something difficult. It's about shoving away the perception that it needs to take a certain amount of time — or that you need to make a certain amount of progress — for you to be "good", or "happy", or "enough."
This is important to me because I want to apply what I learn and explore beyond videogames; I want to apply it to my entire life.
Right now you can’t pay for a subscription, but you can pledge for one. That means you won’t be charged until I turn payments on; it’ll give me a good idea of if someone’s interested, in the meantime.
For short, Ranked is about:
The idea of assigning a number to your skill. I still want to write about gaming, but the idea of expanding it into chess (which isn't a video game, but has qualities of one, these days) was attractive.
Talking to people who have that quality of obsession, and trying to understand what's going on in their mind.
Interfacing with the idea of turning that kind of talent or obsession into a commodity, for good or bad.
Trying to understand the purity of "for the love of the game".
Understanding how people don't assign personal value to the way that those ratings go up or down.
I also want to be able to write posts less about specific psychology/philosophy topics, and explore "Hey, Matt's playing Dota, this is how it's going, and this is what's happened recently." I tried to do this on a weekly basis with BetterDota, but as I burned out, it became harder and harder to keep up this schedule.
I'm going to do my best to introduce some games that I'd like to play, make an effort to learn and play (like, in a childlike, exploratory way), and report back with how that feels.
I think this is a good start, and I feel it applies to enough different things to keep my interest and be flexible.
I hope you enjoy it. If you'd like to chat about any of these kind of topics — either in a podcast format, or in an audio interview to be transcribed — feel free to reach out at ranked [at] onemorematt.com.
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.”
— Carl Jung
Unsubscribing from just this section
If this isn’t your jam, Substack has a good tutorial on how to unsubscibe from just Linked, or other sections. Use it.