Overwatch and positive reinforcement.

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#1 Edited by Drekly (285 posts) -

Overwatch, on its surface, is a fantastic video game. The heroes are diverse, the gameplay is thrilling and the amount of depth hidden beneath the surface is staggering. There is no other way to put it, Overwatch may just be the best team shooter game out there, period.

There is however a serious problem, or rather an unintentional side effect of how the game gives players feedback during a game. Overwatch tries too hard to give you nothing but positive reinforcement. You’re doing great and everyone else on your team is the reason you’re going to lose.

When you hit an enemy, regardless of damage caused, you are considered part of that elimination. This means that when they die, you get a message on screen saying “Eliminated Blazeit420". Now there’s nothing inheritently wrong with that, but unless you got the killing blow, surely you merely assisted in eliminating as opposed to eliminated them outright.

Keep doing this and you’ll start getting messages about killing sprees, even if you merely grazed them with a single bullet, you’re on a killing spree!

You may think I am being needlessly nit picky, and you may be right, but this isn’t the only thing the game does to make you feel good. It does nothing but.

Death in this game is mechanically a big deal. You are out of the game for 10 seconds and have to walk back to the action. This trek can be the difference between winning and losing a game. The thing is, deaths are not glorified in Overwatch, and the kill feed is deactivated by default…for some completely stupid reason.

There’s zero way to see how many times others have died, therefore it’s very hard to call people out and suggest they choose another hero. You alone can see your death count, and it’s the only negative statistic on your stat screen.

The rest of the stats listed are ranked and medals are presented based on your performance within the team. Gold means you’re the best at that particular stat and so on.

The true issue here is the constant positive reinforcement. It is a corrosive in disguise, one the makes a team game into a comparison of medals and narcissism where everyone else is wrong and you are right. Why do I keep getting put with bad players, why is matchmaking so broken etc.

How many times have you been in a game and seen a teammate ask another to switch, only for that person to say “I have multiple gold medals so I am not the problem.”

Medals in reality are only useful gauges of contribution in a small amount of cases. A player using Lucio who has gold damage is a sign that something is wrong, a Roadhog with gold healing means the supports need to step up their game.

What medals don’t tell you is how effective you’re being in any given scenario. Things change on the fly in Overwatch, you have to counter and be flexible in order to fight back.

A Junkrat saying they have gold damage is pointless if the enemy team has a Pharah that is countering him continuously. The Junkrat could have 5 gold medals and still not understand that they need to switch to another hero to be more effective. The effectiveness of your hero is the most paramount concern during any game, and that knowledge is what sets apart lower and higher tier players.

I don't know how they fix this, or if it's just something that bothers me given how much competitive I play, but toxic games are becoming increasingly common and because people hardly ever admit they might be at fault, everyone will just keep bouncing around competitive SR.

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#2 Posted by Socialone (226 posts) -

I agree with most of your points, but on the debate of medals I believe that they are more often than not a good metric of performance. In your example, gold damage Junkrat is not entitled to keep playing that character if the enemy Pharah is raining death from above. However, if he has 3 ou 4 gold medals he obviously is doing something right and the other dps player should switch to 76 or Mccree. The way I see it, a multitude of gold medals is not an automatic sign that this player is carrying the team but it absolutely means that they are not the main reason behind the team's problems.

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#3 Posted by MFJubes (77 posts) -

I can't speak to Overwatch as a competitive game because that's not a world I inhabit, but one of the reasons Overwatch is special to me is because of the positive reinforcement. I'm probably doing about as poorly in a given round of Overwatch as I would be doing in a game like Titanfall 2 or COD, but I have more fun in Overwatch because Overwatch pats me on the back and tells me I'm doing a good job, which I enjoy.

I dunno, I can see the frustration of having certain datasets obstructed when you're trying to diagnose the issues your team is having, but I don't know if surfacing this information would do much for the game's toxicity problem.

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#4 Posted by rethla (3438 posts) -

@mfjubes: It wouldnt do anything for the "toxity problem" but it would make it better and more fun for all players above casual levels.

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#5 Posted by JJWeatherman (14928 posts) -

I just don't see how people being able to call each other out over death counts, and trying to dictate which characters other people choose, makes the game any better at all. Let people do what they want to do, man. It's a game that focuses on the fun of the experience rather than the kind of super serious competitiveness you'll find in other shooters. Let this game be different, and appreciate it for that. There are plenty of Battlefields or Call of Dutys if you really can't contain the need to rag on other players over stats.

Also I know it's not necessarily easy for everyone if you don't have a lot of friends playing, but if you're going to care about the competitive mode, then find yourself a group and get on the same page with your team. From the sounds of it, continuing to play with randoms is never going to make you happy.

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#6 Edited by meteora3255 (465 posts) -

Overwatch is a special game in part because of the positive reinforcement. Its the only competitive multiplayer shooter that reminds you its all just a game and you are supposed to be having fun. I have no problem finding balanced matches in casual play, regardless of anyone's KDR, hero choice and so on.

Also, as @jjweatherman points out, this is a team game. Expecting to enter a team based game as a solo player and then attempting to micromanage/call out/dictate how the team plays just isn't going to work. If you don't have a lot of friends playing the game there are places (like the Giant Bomb community) where you can find a group of like minded players to play with. If that still doesn't work there are plenty of competitive shooters that provide an experience more suited to a solo player.

The way your post reads makes it seem like you are searching for a way to quantify the thing you are complaining about:

@drekly said:
It is a corrosive in disguise, one the makes a team game into a comparison of medals and narcissism where everyone else is wrong and you are right. Why do I keep getting put with bad players, why is matchmaking so broken etc.

You are complaining that the game makes everyone think they are right but you essentially just spent an entire post telling me that you want stats so you can in fact prove you are right. The problem I have with every other shooter is that the community forces players out. At a certain point you either need to dedicate yourself to that game or the community will berate and put you down to the point that you won't want to play. If you casually play a game like Call of Duty or Battlefield eventually the player base will outclass you and those games don't do enough to prevent them from ruining other people's experiences. Overwatch is a game for someone like me (and several other people) where we can play it without feeling like we are one bad match away from having vile spewed at us through chat or messages.

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#7 Edited by hermes (2253 posts) -

The thing is, there are different characters and different roles. You say there shouldn't include the "eliminated ..." message if you only did chip damage, but some characters like Lucio, D.Va and Winston do nothing but chip damage. It is extremely rare for any of those characters to get a kill hit, unlike Reaper, Hanzo or Pharah... and they shouldn't aim to it. They contribute on different ways, and they are rewarded for it.

By the same token, some heroes are meant to get killed less than others. Torbjorn, Zennyatta or Ana, for example, are meant to be on the back line, so they should be killed less often than more offensive characters, simply because their role is to stay farther away from danger and help defend the point. They are not Genji, Reinhart or Tracer... and they shouldn't aim to it. They contribute on different ways, and they are rewarded for it.

I agree with your point that medals as stats are useless unless put in the right context, but it looks like you believe a leaderboard of kills/death is a better alternative, when in truth it is not effective on a class based game.

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#8 Posted by Hippie_Genocide (1864 posts) -

Well lets start with the fact that this is a game, and games should be fun. Not tools to berate players that don't possess your elite level skills.

Online
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#9 Posted by bizmarkiefader (15 posts) -

That you can't see other players death counts to call people out and tell them to switch is part of the whole appeal. The scenario where someone has 4 gold medals and is calling people out on a team but isn't actually contributing doesn't happen very often and is totally worth taking to avoid every game people calling out the two or three players at the bottom of the stat sheet who may even be contributing in ways you're not seeing.

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#10 Edited by cmblasko (2384 posts) -

Personally, it's interesting to me that the popular claim about Overwatch is that it is all about positive reinforcement when I almost always feel bad when I play it. I feel like I never know as much as the other people in the game and am not contributing enough to the team. Even when I play with my friends who have more experience with the game I am pretty much stressing over the fact that I am not at their level and dragging them down. I very rarely feel this way when playing more traditional FPS games like Halo, COD, Gears, Titanfall, etc.

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#11 Edited by hermes (2253 posts) -

@bizmarkiefader: The issue with the medals is that some characters are always going to get them regardless of how well they play. For example, it is pretty easy to get a golden medal on damage with Junkrat, on healing with Mercy, or on objective kills with Torbjorn because they are built for that, even if they never complete a kill or heal the wrong people. But I feel the way to fix it would be to include additional medals for more "middle of the road" characters, and stop paying attention to people that use the medals as an excuse to attack others.

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#12 Edited by Onemanarmyy (2566 posts) -

I feel like the positive reinforcement is great for casual players and should stay that way.

For competitive games i think it should change. As soon as you want to take the game more serious, you kinda have to know in which area's you (and your team) is doing well and where it goes wrong. Eventually the lack of information is going to stifle Overwatch ESPORTS. There's a reason why replays and stats are important for competitive players and entire sites get built to facilitate them.

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#13 Posted by FrodoBaggins (867 posts) -

I almost completely disagree with everything you said. I know when others are having a bad match, you really don't need to see an in depth view of their stats if you're paying close attention. Always keeping an eye on the kill feed at top right of screen is very important.

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#14 Posted by gobo212 (29 posts) -

Go play Dota if you want to scream at people for picking the wrong character.

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#15 Posted by SSully (5277 posts) -

I agree with everything except on the medals. The medals are a good indication of certain area's of contribution.

Honestly, I think they should surface additional stats on your team during competitive matches. Too often there are players playing classes and not doing as good as they should be. Or at least, I feel that way, and there is absolutely no way for me to identify it. I think the obscurity of skill in unranked is 100% - that is where you go to have fun and just mess around with heroes. In ranked though, teams need a way of identifying what's wrong with their team so people can properly switch up roles to fix the problem.

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#16 Posted by thatbendorf (56 posts) -

Sounds like you're playing the wrong game, mate.

There are plenty of shooters out there that are exactly what you are looking for. So maybe go play those instead?

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#17 Posted by Onemanarmyy (2566 posts) -

@gobo212: Isn't the Overwatch meta way more strict compared to Dota? Skimming through the IEM grand finals and i see 4 back to back games where both teams have a D.va + Reinhardt. Seems like it's way more likely to pick a ' wrong' hero in Overwatch that will piss off other players.

That said, i like the positivity stuff in unranked games. Just think it holds the competitive mode back.

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#18 Edited by King_Zelos (6 posts) -

I don't think that's really the main problem. The biggest plague in this game is people playing characters that they are NOT good at. Listen I love Genji like a fat kid loves cake, but I couldn't play him properly if you paid me. I know this because I've tried it. I understand how he should be played and his main role, but I can't execute it correctly because he is very, very hard to learn/master. That being said I give everyone a chance and I am always the person that has to tell the other players on my team to give the person a chance first before you ask them to switch. I play on PS4 so when people pick Widow or Hanzo 95% of the time people are yelling at the person to switch before the match has even started. Like I said before I don't agree with that, I tell them to give him a chance and if we see that he isn't playing the role correctly we should ask him to switch and we can fill in the roll accordingly. Thankfully you see this less and less as you increase in rank, but I don't think it'll ever go away completely. At the end of the day the key to winning in Overwatch is teamwork, period. Doesn't matter if you D.Va ult and get a Team Kill if your team is bitching at each other the whole game the other team is just going to regroup and wipe you like they've been doing the entire match.

Also, knowing when to switch your character is key. I main Junkrat and D.Va and even when I have all 4 gold medals as Junkrat I will switch to Soldier 76 and take out the Pharah that the other DPS is having trouble with. People often get tunnel vision and forget that even though you are doing good doesn't mean that your team is doing good.

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#19 Edited by Atwa (1555 posts) -

I tend to agree. Overwatch immensely gives the illusion of competence, and so many people think they are better than they really are. Its a problem, because it never tells you what you are doing wrong and where you need to improve. Its a genuine problem with teaching people how to play your game.

The medal system also reinforces this, because people assume that if you have gold medals you have played well. Which can be extremely far from the truth, especially in such a team oriented game. Where support/tank roles focus on things other than straight up killing. If you have 2 outright damage dealers, of course you have to be gold eliminations as one of them.

Though frankly, this only becomes an issue when you take the game a little seriously. Which is probably a bad idea, its not a very good competitive game. The balance is all over the place, and the game easily lends itself more to casual, quick play. Which makes Blizzards pushes for the game to become an esport a bit forced. I don't think it will ever really succeed as an esport, which is for the best.

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#20 Posted by OurSin_360 (4450 posts) -

Seems like this only an issue because of their choice to go from casual to competitive after release. All of those things let you have fun without being worried about dumb K/D ratio's and winning, but when the game is focused on k/d ratio's and winning it can lead to more frustrations to the team.

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#21 Posted by ThePanzini (397 posts) -

Couldn't stand Overwatch for this very reason if my team gets annihilated and at the end of the game all I see is gold its BS I clearly failed show me how and why.

@oursin_360: If one of my team mates is constantly dying or performing badly with feedback he or I can do something about it. Not knowing if your doing something wrong can lead to bad habits which are equally frustrating to the team. People whore K/D ratio anyway in Overwatch not showing doesn't stop it.

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#22 Edited by rethla (3438 posts) -

If you guys want positive reinforcement go play a clicker. I see no reason to hide stats from players if it aint for RP reasons and it clearly isnt but Blizzard sure loves to do it.

Alot of agruments in here say "Get a group and play with", yeh sure i play with a group sometime but i/we still wanna see everyones stats.

If its about the "You are doing good" messages that pops up all the time i dont mind at all, keep them, but i wanna see the complete stats when asked for both for tactics and also just for fun.

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#23 Posted by FrodoBaggins (867 posts) -

How do you guys not know if you're not playing well??? How do you not know when a team member isn't playing well? I'm totally serious. You don't need a death count to know this. You watch each engagement. You pay attention. Your solider always dying first leaving you 6v5? He's not playing well. Rein over extending and getting killed? He's not playing well. Flankers getting killed before the main team fight even begins? Theye not playing well. And on and on and on. Don't tell me you need a kill count to know when somebody's not playing well.

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#24 Posted by BladeOfCreation (251 posts) -

@frodobaggins: Exactly! You can tell when people aren't getting on the payload. You can tell when your Mercy is only healing the person she's in a group with. You can tell when you're telling everyone to group up behind your shield and they FUCKING IGNORE THE TANK.

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#25 Posted by LostOddity (56 posts) -

I would really like it if the game surfaced some of the poor stats of a player.

Not to the other players on the team as this would add hugely to the toxicity of the community. But as someone who likes the game and would like to get better at it, knowing exactly where my shortcomings are would help me improve more quickly I think.

But giving toxic players stats to point at so they can bitch more at their teammates is a really terrible idea.

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#26 Posted by FrostyRyan (1989 posts) -

How do you guys not know if you're not playing well??? How do you not know when a team member isn't playing well? I'm totally serious. You don't need a death count to know this. You watch each engagement. You pay attention. Your solider always dying first leaving you 6v5? He's not playing well. Rein over extending and getting killed? He's not playing well. Flankers getting killed before the main team fight even begins? Theye not playing well. And on and on and on. Don't tell me you need a kill count to know when somebody's not playing well.

FUCKING THANK YOU.

I don't get these "tell me exactly what I did wrong and how" people. Pay attention and you'll see! The game's job is to feed you your statistics, it's YOUR job to learn and get better.

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#27 Posted by NietzscheCookie (58 posts) -

I could use more stats after matches but like others have said, with Overwatch its so hard to capture what wasn't working with conventional stats and if you're paying attention it might be obvious what was failing in the match. A k/d score won't tell you what it was. Death's don't matter as much as some make it out to be. Like the OP said it equals time at the end of the day. But as someone who plays a lot of Mei (you can heckle me, its OK) on a good day I can waste so much more than 10 seconds of time for 3-4 people trying to make it back to the point.

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#28 Posted by Klager (221 posts) -

Medals can't be used as a metric. If you get the "30 000 damage. 50% of team damage" card, it doesn't tell your team that you got 3-4 eliminations, 1 solo kill, and you fed the enemy Mercy and Ana 50% of their cumulative ult charges.

Drew touched on this in his GOTY article, the positive reinforcement is great for new players, and people who only play every now and then.

People who play regularly and competitively, know that an assist isn't a solo kill, and they know medals don't matter. (Some no aim, no brain, Hanzo mains still like to quote their medals in chat etc., but this is how you know to ignore them.)


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#29 Edited by GaspoweR (4841 posts) -

You would know you are doing badly when you see a lot of your teammates are dead and to be fair, I think that is more than enough information to convey you are doing badly or the enemy team is just really good but I do get how players (particularly new ones) might get a false sense of doing well despite losing because of the frequency of positive feedback they are getting.

Also just to add I think this game is very viable as a competitive game and just like every competitive game it is often ruled by the current meta so it may often seem like it's too unbalanced (don't get me wrong there's always something to balance in a competitive game) but I tend to see it as a trend of certain lineup or matchups that the competitive scene often uses that spills over to the general population of players. I don't think you'd see old TF2, Quake, Starcraft pros play competitively in this game early on even during the beta and are still playing it competing in tournaments if it wasn't the case.

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#30 Edited by Carloshian (1 posts) -

I definitely agree with most of your points. I actually never considered what made some players so toxic but you stated all of that. One of my friends constantly compares medals, brags about his eliminations, then blames everyone else when something goes wrong. You just have to know how to put toxic players in their place haha! I usually play support and he'll go "of course we lost, I never got any heals!" or other such complaints about how it had to be my fault, but in this case i usually say hey, I don't want you to be liar, so I intentionally don't heal him. It cleans up his attitude real quick xD

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#31 Posted by GaspoweR (4841 posts) -

@carloshian: That's also a very shitty friend you have there hahaha!

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#32 Posted by inevpatoria (7061 posts) -

@cmblasko said:

Personally, it's interesting to me that the popular claim about Overwatch is that it is all about positive reinforcement when I almost always feel bad when I play it. I feel like I never know as much as the other people in the game and am not contributing enough to the team. Even when I play with my friends who have more experience with the game I am pretty much stressing over the fact that I am not at their level and dragging them down. I very rarely feel this way when playing more traditional FPS games like Halo, COD, Gears, Titanfall, etc.

I 100% agree with this, and I have no idea how to put my finger on it.

I've almost completely soured on Overwatch, especially post-Titanfall. Even when playing with a group, the losses come frequently, the wins are scarce, my "positive reinforcement" medals reflect almost consistently poor performance, and in-game I rarely feel like I have a fighting chance in any given situation. And like one comment stated above, I'm receiving very little feedback about where my shortcomings are and how to shore them up.

When a match in Overwatch goes south, it feels like the opposing team is strangling yours to the point that no one can freely play their role. Getting even a minor foothold feels like a milestone victory, and even with the DPS-focused attack characters, I never feel comfortable in a straight fight.

This is a product, I think, of the matchmaking, as well as my relative inexperience with the game. After some months of off-and-on play, I'm still only a Rank 42 player, while each of the others in my group have multiple stars in their rank. Essentially, that means my limited know-how comes face to face with enemy players whose in-game hourcounts dwarf my own. Solo queuing doesn't help me fare any better, however, instead thrusting me into games filled with lone wolves bereft of any notion of team coordination.

It's just exhausting. It's frustrating. It's demoralizing. I find myself preferring a more traditional shooter like Titanfall 2 (which, in my opinion, does the whole "positive reinforcement" thing as well as Overwatch), where every gun has a fighting chance and where I can find personal success even if the team struggles to ensnare victory.

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#33 Posted by Undeadpool (5896 posts) -

While I don't entirely agree with your thesis, you make some good points but you've also built your castle on something of a swamp: unless you're rolling with a regular crew or people you're familiar with, I can't imagine the idea of some rando online listening to your suggestion they switch characters, even IF you presented them with empirical evidence.

In my limited interaction with people online, you'd STILL get: I'M NOT THE PROBLEM, YOU ARE FUK U, PLAY SUPPROT N00B!

I literally had someone open a match by bragging about how many hours they'd logged with Reinhardt (over 60) and he was the WORST REINHARDT PLAYER I'VE EVER TEAMED WITH. I'm SURE there's a way to play him aggro, but this guy did NOT know what that way was...my point being that people in these games are perfectly fine with deluding themselves.

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#34 Posted by dovah (664 posts) -

"You're doing it wrong."

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