Quake Metagame Series

Article 5 - Slumps

One of the things that can seriously affect a player, especially a new one, is his attitude when he experiences something everybody does from time to time: the slumps. You get into a server, and you just can't seem to commit a frag. Bizarre things start to appear to happen that are just plain bad luck. Repeatedly. At the end of each match, you are faring worse than people you know you have been able to beat before. What's going on?

The fact is, we all go through upswings and downswings in our lives, and this extends into our performance in Quake. The cold hard truth is, they happen. Obviously, your immediate goal is to decrease the amount of downswing (slump) that you have to endure. As stated before, your gaming ability can be affected (both directly and indirectly) by outside stimuli. These effects differ greatly from person to person. One thing that can benefit everybody, however, is one's attitude. How do you react when you find yourself constantly missing otherwise simple shots? More than just a stress level, this extends into your rationalization: whose fault was it that you missed that shot? Is it your natural reaction to blame the other person (saying he got lucky, or even cheats), or do you take responsibility for your loss? In order to be able to clearly see what's affecting your game, you must take responsibility for everything that happens to you. No matter how “lucky” your opponents get, you must attempt to maintain an attitude of “how can I change my behavior in order to avoid that again?”.

I am not implying that one should attach themselves to their losses, though. Quite the opposite. If you start getting more aggravated each time you get fragged, you lose the mindset you have spent so long cultivating. You're going to get fragged. Accept that, adapt, and move on. Related to this is also not having much attachment to your victories. Do not let a good frag slow you down on your run, either in the game or in your mind. Keep your thoughts always on what lies directly ahead of you. Keeping your mind on that last frag can distract you from making the next one.

So what comes of all this? What can we do when we find ourselves in these inevitable slumps? That really depends on the individual. All I ask is that you keep yourself able to step back and look at what's going on. Try a different mod, or play at different times of the day. Mix it up a bit. You might even be burnt out on Quake; take a few days off. More often than not, the slumps can be defeated by time alone. Get some fresh air and come back. Most of the time, this will heal all. If this doesn't appear to be the case, however, step back. Attempt to see if there is something basic that you are making an error on. Try and take note of what situations cause you the most grief. You may even want to consider asking another player if he noticed anything wayward.

The big point here is to keep yourself from getting into an attitude that perpetuates the slumps. If you get aggravated, stressed, or start making a lot of excuses, you will probably prolong your stay in slumpsville.

Related to this is what happens when newer players enter a server and find themselves in way over their heads, and get thrashed. Hard. This can lead to a lot of discouragement. Again I say to you, keep your neck screwed on. Find some players of similar level to you, and duel them. Watch demos and other players. Take advice. Do everything except let it get to you. Too many players (even longtime vets) succumb to getting angry at the world when they can't get the frags. The last thing the community needs is to obstruct the influx of new players. Talk to us. We're here for you.


  • Everybody gets the “slumps”. Deal with it.
  • Don't attach fault to other players; keep the focus towards your own growth.
  • Keep your head when in the midst of the slumps. Don't let it get to you, as that will keep you down even longer.
  • If you're new, don't let more experienced players intimidate you. The last thing we want is to scare you off.
Next week: Quake... why does it matter?