There was a time when I would play CS:GO for hours at a time on a daily basis. At one point, I even had aspirations of becoming a professional player. Recently, however, I noticed that I usually ended up playing the game out of boredom. I wasn’t having fun the way I used to. Two days ago, I decided it was time for me take a break from playing CS:GO entirely. What happened?
When I started playing CS:GO, I stuck to deathmatch. I didn’t actually enjoy it that much, but I preferred deathmatch to competitive because I couldn’t understand the appeal of ranks. This phase didn’t last long: once I took the plunge and tried out matchmaking, I was hooked. I had one goal in mind: make it to Global Elite.
Like many CS:GO players, however, I got frustrated with the painful solo queue experience, and joined a team with some friends after fluctuating between MGE and DMG. Eventually, the other players lost interest and the team disbanded.
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I stopped taking the game seriously. I played when I was bored, or needed to kill time. But even though I wasn’t as focused on improving as I was before, I still cared about my rank, and I’d stop playing for the day if I lost a match. And this was the point I found myself at when I realized that it was time to take a break from CS:GO. I was no longer enjoying the game for what it was. My experience isn’t unique. If none of this sounds familiar to you, think about your Steam friends list. How many of them did you meet playing CS:GO, and how many of them are still playing the game?
The Growing Need for Unranked 5v5
The ranking system in official matchmaking is at least partially responsible for my decision to step back from CS:GO. Having grown up playing Counter-Strike 1.6, too many people place too much trust in the idea that their competitive matchmaking rank is an accurate representation of their skill.
Nobody enjoys being ridiculed for their low rank. Some people have suggested removing ranks entirely, but that’s a bit heavy-handed for my tastes. To remove ‘ranked anxiety’ and let new players practice using the competitive ruleset, it’s become clear to me that Valve needs to add unranked 5v5 matchmaking to CS:GO. Of course, the idea for this game mode isn’t new. People have been requesting it for years. With the release of Operation Hydra finally taken care of, now is the perfect time for Valve to focus on delivering these kinds of quality-of-life improvements.
The Benefits of Taking a Break
If you end up getting excessively frustrated over the game and notice your performance is taking a hit, do yourself a favor and take a break from CS:GO. People in the community agree that a temporary hiatus often gives them a fresh perspective, and plenty of anecdotal reports suggest that you’ll perform better when you return. This isn’t a hard science, of course, but being frustrated all the time is detrimental to your skill, and you’ll develop bad habits out of stress or anger. If you’re worried about losing your muscle memory or game knowledge by putting the game down for a couple weeks, don’t be. You might be a bit rusty when you come back, but you’re not starting from scratch.
All in all, a break from the game can only help you if you’re feeling stuck or upset. Both in life and in gaming, people fall into routines, and when you’re doing the same thing over and over again, it’s perfectly natural to not enjoy the activity as much as you used to. Whether it’s two weeks or two months, only you can decide how much time you need away from the game. You know yourself better than anyone.