From Public Gaming Anxiety to Catching a “Competitive Itch”

As an introverted “non-gamer”, the thought of going to a big convention one year ago – even just as an observer – made me sick to my stomach. Yet here we are now, several local tournaments and one Las Vegas Open later, and I cannot wait to go to all the big tournaments this coming year as well as Las Vegas Open 2024!

Aside from casual games at my local game store, I didn’t really consider myself a gamer. My husband on the other hand has probably played every game known to man at least once. In the spring of 2022, he convinced me to attend a semi-local tournament for MCP. It was actually a pretty easy decision to go since most of the people going were from my local game store. Shortly before the actual tournament, I learned there would be several people there that I had never met. Yes, that was to be expected but I was unable to push that out of my mind until the night before the tournament.

That night, I had a full-blown panic attack. The anxiety of what others would think about someone playing in a tournament who frequently forgot rules, didn’t know every model, and didn’t have a “tactical” mindset sent me spiraling. However, through a lot of encouragement, I found the courage to actually go. You would never guess what- ya girl WON the whole thing!

Winning that tournament was absolutely more gratifying than I ever could have imagined. Though I still think I would been pleased even if I lost that last game. The reason for that is because for that tournament – and every once since then – I set a realistic goal for myself. For that tournament, my goal was to win one single game and of course to have fun. In the tournaments since then, I have accomplished every single realistic goal I have set for myself except for one – which gave me something to reevaluate how I could be a better player.

My husband Ben Lalka (Rightmad #8013 on Discord) and myself (SweetTeaAndCoffee #2495 on Discord) heading to Las Vegas for the 2023 LVO!

Fast forward to the Las Vegan Open (LVO) early this year. I played in the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) with an A-Force / Inhumans roster. I didn’t expect to even make it into the main event – the Las Vegas Open Invitational Standard (LVOIS) – since there were SO many big names, great players, but that was ok with me because of the goal I had set for myself. That goal was to win one single game with my Inhumans. I would say this goal was actually a bit of a stretch since the Inhumans are pretty bad right now, especially when matched against one of the META affiliations!

Pre-game 1 shenanigans!

My very first game was against one of the best S.H.I.E.L.D. players in the world AND was on Professional Casual Network’s Livestream… talk about feeling the pressure! I didn’t want to look silly so I took the team I was most comfortable with and had the most experience with – my A-Force gals! I ended up losing but I think I held up pretty well, especially since I had never played against S.H.I.E.L.D. before. I was still nervous for my second game so again I brought A-Force. I won that game but I still wasn’t really having fun because I was still in my own head. Game number three, I once again brought A-Force because I thought, “If I actually bring Inhumans I definitely won’t have fun because I will be getting pummeled into the ground.” Well, I lost that game but my opponent was so incredibly fun and relaxed that I actually felt my anxiety disappear. I told myself that I was going to play with my Inhumans for my last two games no matter what – after all, my only goal was to win a single game with Inhumans and that would be a little hard to do if I didn’t actually play with them!

Post-game 1 interview!

That was definitely a great decision because my last two games were some of the most enjoyable and lighthearted games I’ve ever played! I won my fourth game and therefore accomplished my goal too! No matter what happened the rest of LVO, I could be proud of myself because I accomplished my goal and was finally having fun.

After the LCQ, Ben and I filmed some content for his Podcast/Youtube

Although I didn’t make it into the LVOIS, I had a blast the rest of the weekend. I was able to cheer on my husband, help out PCN, put faces to names I have heard a million times, meet new people, and really come out of my shell altogether and just relax. Being at LVO made me feel like a part of the MCP community and even gave me a “competitive itch” with my Inhumans roster. I have already played in one tournament so far since LVO and may or may not be already signed up for 4 more tournaments to attend over the next 3 months…

Ben and I’s LVO tokens (left and right), as well as my Inhumans Best Affiliation token (top middle) and a Black Bolt gift token (bottom middle) from another player.

A year ago, I would have laughed at you if you told me I would now enjoy tournaments, not have terrible anxiety, and not care that I don’t know or remember everything about this growing game. But here we are! I truly believe others with gaming anxiety can overcome it if you:

• find a support system to help get you out of your own head
• set a realistic goal – you don’t have to win it all to be proud of yourself
• have fun because everyone around you wants you to have fun too!

I encourage everyone to go to tournaments and big gaming conventions such as LVO if you’re able – you never know what good things may surprise you!


Keep an eye out for Ben and I’s new YouTube

Married Couple Protocol” coming VERY SOON!

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