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The psychological effects of SBMM

by Axs5626Sxa5001

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The psychological effects of SBMM

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I’m a clinical psychotherapist. I’m also a huge Apex Legends fan with over 15k kills on Pathfinder.  I have many loves; competitive gaming has been one of them for the last 15 years.

But I’ve become a bit troubled over the last month or so over this whole SBMM situation. As mentioned before, I really really really enjoy the competitive side of gaming, but SBMM is actually making me sort of resent that aspect of the gaming world.


My personal belief is that players should be afforded the option to experience games casually or competitively; the keyword here is “OPTION”. I do not believe that forcing all players into an experience where every game is competitive benefits the community. SBMM sets out to ensure that ALL players (good and bad) are playing others of equal or slightly better skill; the notion is that this creates a safe space for newer players that protects them from the experienced “good” players. But in the end, the expectation for SBMM is to make it so people are always playing people at their skill level— this results in stressful “sweaty” games at all skill tiers.


As mentioned earlier, I work as a therapist, and am well versed on the body’s various responses to stress. But it doesn’t take a degree in psychology to understand that people do not want to play super competitive sweaty matches EVERY GAME. Even Timmy Tryhard lacks the mental energy to play at 100% of his ability ALL THE TIME.


There needs to be a casual option. There just has to be. The natural psychological response to stressful experiences is to avoid them. If all Apex (or other MP shooters) offers is stressful games then people are going to start playing less often and this isn’t going to bode well for Apex or any other game.


TLDR: SBMM has the potential to actually (no hyperbole) kill Apex Legends.

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Re: The psychological effects of SBMM

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Hmm, a very good subject for debate. 


Personally, I don't feel SBMM to feel that sweaty, my average level stats seem to grow slowly and steadily, without awful plunges like the one I had during duos. It's interesting, the game feels pretty easy when with randoms, but when I party with a friend, things get sweaty pretty often. Maybe I'm low skilled, although I'm too many hundreds of hours old in Apex to be considered a rookie.


Apex is a very competitive game by design. Had a problem when I started playing, which was exactly the fact that I couldn't enjoy playing it casually, as I was getting mowed down before figuring out which is what. The reason I'm still around is because it required me to get good to stay alive, basically to "sweat". What I hated at the beginning, I ended up liking: the unique, unforgiving survival mode feeling. 


Now I ask this: should there be casual play in Apex? We are talking about a PvP BR, where the most important thing is survival, kind of the opposite of relaxation. So, I'd say this game is not meant to be played casually and is aimed at hardcore players, usually the kind that know what they're getting into.


Then, about giving 100% all the time: why? Does Respawn/ EA state anywhere that you can't take a break and play other, more relaxed games, or do other hobbies? Certainly not. In fact, a great thing about Apex is that it doesn't abuse FOMO, you can hardly miss anything. Actually, I think this game's survival on the longterm depends mostly on players that take breathers instead of burning themselves to exhaustion on daily basis.


Still, there is "casual" in Apex, but by accident and mostly for the skilled players only: enemies lacking skills, in teams with bad composition, synergy and communication. So, everything that most players hate with a passion, makes up the ideal hunting environment that the same players seem to enjoy. The irony Standard smile. But also a tragedy, because those easy matches gave really good stats to the skilled players, which now feel like they're regressing as their stats plunge down hard. Now there's the psychological issue...


To conclude, I don't think there's an issue with SBMM. The actual problem is that it wasn't in from the beginning and that its ever changing formula shakes the meta too hard sometimes.



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Re: The psychological effects of SBMM

[ Edited ]
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psychology XD

Message 3 of 6 (373 Views)

Re: The psychological effects of SBMM

[ Edited ]

@Axs5626Sxa5001  Not gonna lie,saw the thread title and thought "dear apex addled brain is about to get shrinked"


But you raised this issue in a much more leveled mature manner than other folks on this forum so kudo's for that.


Personally i've enjoyed the increased difficulty of the average pub lobby its definitely making me a better player. I do agree it can certainly be pretty damn stressful for prolonged periods though, but as @DoYaSeeMe also stated i find that simply taking a break from gaming or just playing a more relaxing game for a while goes a long ways towards alleviating that stress


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Message 4 of 6 (360 Views)

Re: The psychological effects of SBMM

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Yes there is rom for casual, I know it is a forbidden word here, but Fortnite has mastered player retention and bringing new players to the fold.


They have ltm’s all of the time 50 v 50, 20,20,20, food fight, then there are seasonal events. While some would argue Fortnite has been around longer, it would be good to know I started in season 2 by season 4 it was polished and pretty smooth and well constructed. The seasons were 3 months long if irc, so basically a year in and when I say smooth, there were issues with double pump (shotgun) play, limited lag issues and a few minor bugs. 

So yeah you can have br and still be casual. And as far as Apexgoes casual could just simply be solo players grouped outside of pre made squads. Just saying it might be a novel concept, or even give us the option of no fill. 

I appreciate the input of therapy in this, I don’t necessarily play Apex to relax, but I don’t want to have a towel to wipdown my controller either.

Message 5 of 6 (336 Views)

Re: The psychological effects of SBMM

@Axs5626Sxa5001 Ironic that you’re a clinical psychologist yet want a gaming option that allows you to essentially noob bash. You want a mode that’s easy for you.. but imagine how stressful it is for all the low skill players you slaughter? Imagine the psychological impacts it has on them? Do you think they want to come back and play? Nope! I was a noob before SBMM and it was hell for months. Run across a predator and just instantly get downed.. I toughed it out, but it was not fun.

I had a round a few nights ago with 2 noobs. It was their first few games. They literally told me the game was extremely hard and wanted to play something else. I pulled them into a he firing range and tried to help them for a bit. Yet even after an hour in the training mode they struggled in the game. They have not logged on again since. I look for them because I want to help them.

There is another noob I played with 2 nights ago. He was struggling mightily. Me and another player carried him to a win. He was extremely excited, it was his first win. It was also his first taste of being able to down people and actually play the game. I’ve spent hours with him in the firing range. Working with him to improve his skills. He’s not a bad shot.. Yet despite this he still struggles in the game for numerous reasons. The big reason is that he does not know when to push, when to revive and when to run.

He’s one of the rare players who’s toughing it out. SBMM is giving him a chance.. he does not get slaughtered by a high skill player. He can play in a round with similar skill players who both make similar mistakes.. that gives both players experience and let’s them grow as a player. If he is dumped into a round with people of my or your skill, he’ll get slaughtered instantly. There is no trial and error for him in that kind of gaming. It’s also not casual.. he would have to grind for months and months and months to get decent.

But it’s comical to me that you want a casual mode that allows you to slaughter lower skill players because SBMM is stressful to you. Imagine how stressful that is for the players you play against?!

How did I end up in a round with him? I’d imagine the servers were slow and we got mixed into his lobby.

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