LAN Mob Tales - Embracing Failure

More often than not, the term "failure" is considered a dirty one. We learn at a very young age to strive to do our very best to assure that we flourish in the face of all adversity, which is definitely not a bad thing. Unfortunately, sometimes "doing your very best" can still come up short from your initial goal, and sometimes I feel like people are not prepared for that truth. That being said, we find ourselves in situations where success is not guaranteed pretty quickly in life. Whether it be sports, academics, job related events or even gaming, everyone will eventually face down that shock of total failure, that's a fact of life. The real test of character is how one copes with failure, in any form, and how it can actually be harnessed. Unfortunately, I feel a huge majority of education is focused on NOT failing, rather than how to deal with it when it shows up. Failure sucks, but it can be used as a stepping stone to success. We've written about positive and negative mindsets on our blog before so check those out if you haven't, since we touched on the importance of a proper mindset before, and I'll be doing it again. 

Recently, I've been witnessing notable stings of failure from the sidelines and they're sticking in my brain like glue. There have been three cases around the shop in just the past few weeks or so that have really had me ruminating on exactly what failure means for different people, and how they choose to deal with it. By definition, failure is "the lack of success", and while that's true, the alternative definition is way more appropriate in my eyes. "The omission of expected or required action", which implies your failure can be traced back to an action, or lack thereof. So consider what you deem as failure and how you yourself would or should react under conditions like these, or similar ones.

-Baby Rage-

If you're reading this, chances are you play video games, or a close friend/family member does. If not, thanks for reading our blog anyways! Almost every "gamer" that walks through the door started playing at a young age or is currently a youngster. It makes for an awesome environment of learning and supporting, and I can truthfully say I have felt like all the employees here at LAN Mob and even some of the older regulars are working hard to be positive influences in these kids' lives. This can prove to be very challenging on occasion, as Bossman touched on in a blog when discussing playground politics. Us employees have many discussions about supporting the growth and mindsets of the youngest of regulars and I cannot stress enough how each and every employee genuinely cares. It's very awesome to hear kids of all ages say "This is the best thing in Rome", and that means so many things. I disgress... a recent issue we have been facing and discussing heavily is one specific youngster, and how this child deals with failure. Bob (I will refer to him as "Bob" to help keep things anonymous) is a good kid at heart, and spends a lot of time here with us at LAN Mob. Here at the LAN center we play games (it's like...our thing) and games, by definition, have winners and losers. Unfortunately Bob absolutely cannot deal with losing on any scale. Bob gets extremely upset, screams, slams property, sometimes even refuses to communicate for a while in response to any dose of failure. Sometimes Bob seems to quickly recover, but occasionally things are a much more difficult. Once we identified the problem, we started off by limiting the games he can play, avoiding highly competitive multiplayer games and difficult single player ones. Bob found comfort in open world games like Zelda Breath of the Wild, Far Cry Primal and Horizon Zero Dawn on top of games like Terraria and Minecraft, but unfortunately we didn't see the end of the problem there. The problems persisted after almost every single failure, whether it be a very short-lived rampage over missing a jump to a zip-line in Horizon (which re-spawns you next to the zip-line with absolutely no punishment) or the unfortunate pinnacle of meltdowns resulting in throwing remotes at monitors. We've all been working very diligently with Bob, and we will continue to do so. We all take different approaches to help Bob deal with this anger, and I feel a personal responsibility to help Bob understand this reaction to failure is not going to help him in life. It's important to note Bob is only around 9 years old, but this aggressive and immediate response to failure of any kind is a mindset I genuinely hope he can defeat.

-Teamwork & Comradery-

As you may have seen on our Facebook and Twitter accounts, LAN Mob recently participated in a really exciting League of Legends WAN tournament ran by the awesome dudes over at ggLeap. We had two teams participating under our banner, "LAN Mob White" and "LAN Mob Green." After a very long day of intense matches, both teams found themselves short of their goals. Before I continue I would really like to note that I'm extremely proud of both teams for coming and spending the day with us and representing our LAN Center. It was a pleasure hanging out, talking League of Legends and cheering you guys on. At the end of the day, both teams were faced with failure, and I couldn't help but observe how each team dealt with this. I certainly do not want to portray this poorly and shed anyone in a poor light, this tournament had very talented competition with a lot of money on the line, tension was definitely high. However, in the face of failure, Team A gathered around with some food, watched replays of their games and genuinely discussed what could have gone differently, despite being very dismayed. Nobody was really upset with their fellow teammates, and most of the team ended up staying for our overnight lock-in to continue practicing and improving. It was inspiring to see. However, Team B had a little less comradery and took the losses much harder. Pointing fingers, blaming this and blaming that and essentially not taking the steps needed to improve for the future. Both teams discussed the matches a bit, but Team A's members were clearly much more willing to take personal and solo responsibility for certain plays and mishaps in the games. Bossman pointed out there may very well have been internalized takeaways for Team B and some people need to experience certain things multiple times for them to click, which is very true. Either way, it's clear both teams did not enjoy failing, but what team do you think is less likely to fail again, in the same way?

-For Fun-

Back in February we started running various midnight tournaments during our Saturday night gaming lock-ins. I've only had the pleasure of being able to attend a few but they have been a total blast. I think, for the most part, it is a pretty stress free event for us employees, and a stress free event for the competitors. We've run all sorts of tournaments from Rocket League, Bomberman and even Mortal Kombat and feedback has been really positive. For one of the earlier tournaments we ran For Honor 1v1s, which we promptly dubbed "Dueling Nights". Rob and I were rounding up players on our sign-up sheet when we were unfortunately met with a small amount of opposition. "But I'm bad at this game" or "I've never played this, so I don't want to play" or even "I'm just gonna lose!". Fortunately, Rob and I wouldn't take no for an answer, and we essentially aggressively peer pressured some regulars into playing, (Shout outs to Hickernell for playing in every tournament at every lock-in he's ever attended with almost no pushing. This man gets it) stressing that the tournament was free and would definitely be a lot of fun. And we weren't wrong. Players were cracking up, getting invested and even pleasantly surprising themselves with some awesome plays. When all was said and done that night, I can safely say not a single competitor stepped away from their matches without a smile on their face, win or lose. Sometimes we need to take a step back, whether it be for some silly free entry tournament, or something a little more important, and throw our fear of failure out the window. In turn, this makes the potential feeling of failure that follows a much softer blow. I wouldn't say you should go bet all your money on a poker game because you shouldn't be afraid of failing, but you get the idea, yeah?

It's funny how the day-to-day LAN Mob life starts to create these parallels between gaming and really critical life lessons right before my eyes. When I'm sitting at the desk looking at the shop I can't help but consider all the valuable lessons this medium has to offer and I'm happy to be living in a time where the benefits of gaming are common knowledge. I can authentically state that I personally learned all about failure and how to cope with it mostly from video games. I spent a lot of time in my youth being thrown in the Player 2 slot and getting my ass kicked. When I finally got good and started beating older siblings and peers, I remember being accused of cheating a few times. Even though we were just young and silly kids, I remember thinking "Wow, when I lose I never accused you of cheating...". I very distinctly remember getting really far in one of my all time favorite games, "Ape Escape", farther than my older brother ever got, but I got stuck again. He was pretty impressed, but the very next day he pushed past that point and I felt a distinct pang of defeat and failure for not being able to first. I proceeded to bug him until he showed me his strategy, which was certainly not the intended solution to the puzzle, but a very creative way to overcome the obstacle. I remember saving up extra money and when we would head to the holy land every Sunday (Oneida's Pepi's Pizza & Arcade), I'd drop all of my tokens into one game and get absolutely decimated. Obviously I didn't grow up an anime character, I didn't step away from the machine with iron resolve to never ever lose again at the age of 10. More often than not, I was irritated and immediately asked my mom and dad for some more tokens to try again. Sometimes they would give me a chance to reclaim my honor...sometimes my honor would stay in Nintendo's Punch-Out Arcade Cabinet for another week... 

However, after a while, you can't help but get pretty damn good because of those failures. Remembering boss patterns in Carn-Evil because you remember "that attack that does half my health" or beating the next fight in Street Fighter 2 because the AI starts to become so predictable. I remember the day I beat Vectorman and how happy I was, but I wasn't about to forget the years I spent NOT beating Vectorman, losing to the same bosses over and over. Ironically enough, the exact lessons I was learning from video games all these years can be applied to our small business that revolves around them, and my life that revolves around it. We knew from the beginning that we will continue to learn and grow, even if we fail along the way, and that's just fine by me. I certainly do not strive to fail, but I don't think it's in my best interest to fear it, and I would say the same to you!

"Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is only something we can avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing."         

Denis Waitley

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1 comment:

  1. Cody, I am extremely impressed with your writing. Nice blog. Keep it up. *Bob needs a punch in the face. Just sayin'.