Competition.

I am not about competition.

I know that this is a strange statement, coming from someone who games. It however, is the truth coming from me.

I **DON’T** judge myself on how others are doing, nor how I am doing in relation to them. I go by how **I** am doing. Solely. (I admit that I am a little disappointed when I see a list, and despite a kick ass month, don’t rise in it – but it has to do with ME, and my minimums, not with others, and theirs.)

This is just my way my way. I aim to do the very best job I can, in what ever I am doing at the time. My evaluation is as follows:

  • Did I do the very best I could?
  • Did I improve?
  • If not, why? How can I improve upon it going forward?
  • If so, then what can I do to improve more next month/quarter?

Very simple, really.

HOWEVER

I work in a game studio. People here tend to be even more competitive than the norm. Not a bad thing, if that is how you push yourself. Competition can be a tool for some people. ANYthing that allows one to grow, and gives one the impetus to strive for better, to learn, and grow, and be MORE than they were before is marvelous, IMO.

Competition is not a motivator to me.

Side note:  This may be one of the reasons why I am not a fan of PvP gaming.  I can do it, and have fun – if I have a couple of glasses of wine and queue with a group of friends.  They can tell me where to go and what we want to do there, and I can have fun.  Merely going in by myself, queuing with strangers?  Aiming to do the  most killing blows?  or Honorable kills?  Or what have you?  Not so much.

Queue the neurotic part of me – when confronted, my first instinct is to curl up in a ball, evidenced by the post about SCARY WORLD. Competition to me feels like a confrontation.  An attack: “You aren’t doing as good as X! You are no good! Blather blather blather…”  When attacked, I want to curl up in a defensive ball, and hide.

This would not be conducive to better – rather, it would cause me to NOT want to try. I have worked very hard to minimize this part of me, and part of THAT, is to avoid the triggers that will cause this flight mode.

I bring this up, because at work, my immediate supervisor has implemented a “game”. The top three performers for the week, get to choose “cards” from a specially made deck, to play on the person of their choice. That person has to do as the card says. It is intended to be an impetus to push people to work as hard as they can, in a new, fun, and engaging way. In and of itself, not a bad thing. At all. The rest of the team thinks it is marvelous, and are having a great amount of fun.  Numbers are going up, and it is doing what it was intended to to.  Kudos to my immediate supervisor for that!

When broached to me as an idea, I decided to opt out. This is not something that is motivating to me, I have no problem with others playing, and will cheer on their victories. I don’t want to be involved in any immediate fashion.

Top of the list, or bottom, my actual NUMBERS are no one elses business, excluding my immediate supervisor and team leader. My numbers are well in the acceptable range (and flirt with “exceeds expectations” sometimes), so this is NOT because I would be ashamed. This is because I am NOT driven by the “Must be the top of everything” forces that seem to drive most people in my company. I **HAVE** been the best in other jobs – stepped in and immediately been accused of “making others look bad” and had it suggested that I “slow down, so that I don’t make others look bad in comparison”. I didn’t then, because when I work, or craft, or game, I do the VERY best I can – regardless of how it stacks up to others. I gave my best – I got better, I have won. Simple as that. Provided that I am and continue to perform at at least the expected level, and that (for personal satisfaction as well as possible promotion) I continue to give my utmost, and improve in the process, I have won. I don’t need to “beat” others for this to be an achievement.

This does not seem to satisfy everyone however. As a case in point, I caused a tempest in a teacup.

The cards in the deck are made to be played on anyone on the team. One team member ambushed me as soon as I came back in on Tuesday from my long weekend/holiday. He waved the card, asked if I knew how to speak like a pirate, and then stated that he might play the “talk like a pirate all day” card on me. I let him know that I wasn’t part of the competition. Kept it low key, as a simple statement.

Another side note: I do believe that part of this was the fact that I had missed the Monday announcement and card drawing, and the young man in question wanted to toot his horn a bit. There is nothing wrong with THAT either.  I sincerely congratulate him on achieving this!

An hour later, he tried to hand me the card, stating that I had to do this. I was his “choice” for the card. Again, I let him know – this time more forcefully (read panic stricken), that I was NOT participating. Even if I got in the top three, and could choose a card, I wouldn’t be playing – and I refused to do it. I was not going to participate in any way. He was going to have to choose someone else.

Yet another note.  Should probably start a footnote section:  Did I handle this in the best way possible?  Most probably  not.  Did I handle it in the only way I COULD at the time?  Definitely.  Panic attacks do not often open the door for tact.

Caused a ripple of “what’s going on? What’s the problem?” across the team. I got the feeling that several members felt that I wasn’t “being a good sport”.  Damned right I wasn’t. I felt put on the spot. Attacked.  Made me want to run away, hide, and try to breathe. That same ugly feeling I used to get as a teenager. Urge to scream, or kill pixels, or whatever I needed to do until I stopped revving and could just BREATHE.

Of course I couldn’t, because I still had most of my shift to work. I had tried to handle it tactfully, and it had blown up in my face.  Panic won the day.   Add repercussions (other, physical ones that we won’t go into here) that will carry out for days to come. The rest of the night was miserable, with self recrimination sneaking in to apply its teeth and claws to my already shredded dignity.

Not pleasant, not fun, not funny. Just scared rabbit looking for a bolt hole. And the feeling that I let everyone down, because I couldn’t, and wouldn’t play the role that was being thrust upon me out of the blue, in a “game that I had opted out of.  A real “stick in the mud”.

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vicky
    Dec 03, 2011 @ 13:03:14

    Ah, yeah, this is a problem I’m facing in engineering. Engineering programs like to use competition as motivators, but what they fail to understand is that not everyone finds that motivating. In fact, this problem is cited as one of the many reasons why engineering is so short on women. Although there are some women who love competition, probably the majority don’t, and similarly while there are probably some men who don’t like competition, probably the majority do. So the contests are designed by men, for men, usually. (not always, but usually) The women don’t even want to compete, and if they do, the instant anyone starts confronting them in any way, they take off. I personally witnessed this just the other night at the competition I was in recently. By the end of the competition, I was literally the ONLY woman left there.

    I knew this was going to happen before I decided to do engineering, though, so I actually made my choice early on and decided to play along just so that I could get the learning experiences, but deep down, I don’t give a flying bleep about the actual competitions themselves. I would feel guilty if I ever won. And it bothers me that the men then go “but we encourage diversity and we don’t understand why the women have left.”

    And I feel guilt no matter what I do anyway, because if I have a male teammate, then I’m letting him down by not actually caring about winning, and if I have a female teammate, I feel like I’m trying to force her to do something she doesn’t want to do.

    I tried really hard to encourage two female competitors. Really hard. One never even showed, and the other got so mad that she told people to fuck off, and then she left half way through the competition. The other girls in the class didn’t even show up. Oh sorry, one did, but she never said a single word, and she, too, left half way through. They didn’t even stay long enough to get the free food promised to all competitors. They took a group picture at the end and I was the only woman in the picture, surrounded by like 30 guys.

    I don’t think the gaming world is much different. The programming world, the “tech” world, etc. All the same thing. The ratios may not be quite as horrible as they are in engineering, but they’re not 50/50. (and in the programming world, they’re getting worse)

    And lol yes I know I’m saying all this when your entire team could be made up fully of women. I’m just relating to the problem in general by sharing my own experience. And I actually really do think that it boils down to a gender ratio problem.

    Reply

  2. Vicky
    Dec 03, 2011 @ 13:03:38

    Woah, comment almost as long as blog post. LOL sorry!

    Reply

    • Anonymous
      Dec 03, 2011 @ 15:59:25

      Don’t apologize about the length of the post, hon! I love that about you. We are a lot alike in that way!

      I think you are right about there being some gender preferences. At least when I was growing up (in the 70s) there was the whole women’s lib movement, and “I am Woman – hear me roar!” stuff, there was still a very definite division when it came to how female children were raised. (at least in my family – Mema had moved to Colorado with Mom from North Carolina).

      I still remember my Mema telling me things like “A ladies hands proclaim her habits” (If I had been playing outside, and they were dirty), As I got older, it was things like “A lady does not walk with a cigarette in her hand. When she wants to smoke, she should sit down.”

      My team isn’t all women, but there are more now than there used to be. Ratio isn’t 50/50. Team of ~30, we have 6 women. Probably pretty close to how it is departmentally, but then again I leave math to those of you who don’t mangle the numbers – except for fun! ❤

      I am sad that of the contributors in your competition, you were the only woman left. = (

      Reply

      • Vicky
        Dec 03, 2011 @ 16:57:42

        6/30? I am sad that I basically called gender ratio while knowing nothing about your coworkers and ended up getting it right. 😦

        And I have no solution to the problem. It’s a problem that is seriously affecting the entire geek industry and it has been getting worse over time. I think the high point was in the 80s and we’ve been in decline ever since.

  3. bellanoctumnSarah
    Dec 11, 2011 @ 03:52:28

    Vicky and Pam I think it comes down to this, Men in the geek industry don’t know any better. Lets be honest, Men in general are not Savvy about the female mind ( Probably for the best, their poor heads would asplode if they were able to follow our thought processes). They take things at face value ” She[s smiling, she must be alright!” Not really acknowledging that we are smiling only because that’s what we are trained to do from an early age.

    I have had a HUGE amount of success telling men how I feel. ” Hey Boss man!! Competition makes me uncomfortable, how about I just provide support? and maybe snacks?” I am lucky, because my boss listens when I speak. Not everyone has that, I understand that is the case. But I know that the other day, I was made to actually cry at work, and my boss took me into his office, told me how he was going to fix what happened, and then gave me a hug. ( Not sexual harassment, it was a comfort hug). Had I been in Pam’s situation I personally would have gotten pissed off and probably cried ( My tear ducts have a life of their own, they don’t listen to me), I think that she handled the situation EXTREMELY well, and that it was the failure of her team management that needs to be addressed.

    Love you Pam!! You keep on being as awesome as you are!!

    ( Holy Parantheticals batman O.O)

    Reply

    • Vicky
      Dec 11, 2011 @ 12:20:34

      Sarah, first, I read your blog (which Pam so nicely linked!) and I must say, I’m in awe of your crafting abilities. So envious! Anyway, I literally just finished reading the post you talked about. All I can say is: 😦

      It’s tough to be in a male dominated world. And I hate to use those words, because they can have a different meaning, but I couldn’t think of another way to talk about numbers. Male heavy? Male numerous? Those sound weird, lol. Anyway, there are some women who like it, but I think they’re actually mistaken and that they don’t really know for sure (and they usually have this mistaken notion that they’ll have their choice of potential boyfriends, and then they wonder why they get treated like bimbos and why they’re single). Having been in both worlds (I have a biology degree so I was previously in that world), I can definitely say that things work a million times better, for everyone, when there’s balance.

      Oh and clearly, no problem with parentheses here…

      Reply

  4. Sarah Simons
    Dec 13, 2011 @ 02:53:18

    Vicky I totally get it. One day I hope that we will all be in a happily balanced world!<3

    As for the Crafting abilities, I didn't have any until I became an adult and needed cheap forms of entertainment :P. I have had my sewing machine for about a year now, and been knitting for roughly 3 months, and embroidering for roughly two weeks LOL.

    Just pick it up and go with what feels comfortable! Besides, when you can't eat, you have much more time to do other things… like craft 😛

    Reply

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