Those who know me would know that I'm not a gamer. Valorant is my first FPS game, and the learning curve is extremely steep. Thankfully, I had the help of many veteran gamers on my 30-day training arc journey that I streamed on my 2nd channel. You can follow the full progress there if you want to. Below is a stream I did without training for it, and the difference speaks for itself.
You can watch the first stream from the training arc here.
Patreons to credit: -This could be you. Join now.-
Before I delve into the gaming and experience that could relate to writing, this is the setup I was told to get. Ignore the messy knick-knacks, but this keyboard (actual brown switch mechanical) is very addictive to type with!
Now to business!
As someone who had never played FPS before but is a writer who understands how to fully immerse when writing, immersion is a terrible thing to do in a fast-paced adrenaline-pumping game like Valorant.
When I first started, every death in the game felt like a death in reality. My blood pressure was so high, my body heated up, and my hands shook. Fight and flight instincts kicked in faster than coffee did, and I wasn't in control. If I were to compare that stage of experience, it would be similar to someone who held a gun without knowing how to use it. It gave me quite the mental trauma playing it, and I suffered bouts of terrible insomnia for a while, having recurring nightmares as if I were a soldier who had just killed his first man in a war.
There were so many things I didn't know about guns and shooting. I couldn't recognise the kind of guns I was given, didn't know that recoil existed, had no idea where to look when shooting or how to aim and often turned my back to the enemy on sight to escape instead of hiding to fight. I didn't know how to reload the gun either or count the bullets. It was a rough start, not to mention there were also hackers in the game. You can see an example of a player using hacks in the stream above with the maidens.
Picking up the basics...
Once I overcame the initial shock of being unable to think in a game, I revisited the game with a new mentality. Valorant might be an FPS, but not all battles had to be fought head-on. My first objective was to find a gun that I could use with the least recoil and something I could spam to scare people away as a deterrent more than a killing weapon. I found a gun without bullet tracers and silencers that soon became my in-game favourite - the Ghost pistol. The Phantom came in much later in my gaming phase because of the recoil and spray pattern, but that was how I started. I'm not going to mention my other bag of tricks, like studying the agents and their abilities or looking for rat spots to camp for ambushing people in the game. Still, you can probably see the similarity with how Zen escaped Sasha at the beginning of Godfather World.
Proper techniques and mentors...
After regaining my confidence to challenge the game from a more rational perspective and increasing the number of kills I could get, the idea of taking a life had become much easier and natural. It was scary how I adapted to looking for people like a hunter intending to kill, aiming for their heads and looking them in the eye. When my training mentors told me practice made better, they meant it. Shooting targets and drones didn't help as much as humanoid bots. At this stage, I'm a seasoned killer on the battlefield who moves according to instinct, seeking out blood wherever noise and action are. Needless to say, while my body count increased, so did my death count. I had to reinvent myself.
The deadliest weapon is still the mind...
When humans panic and self-preservation instincts kick in, what's the first thing that happens? When humans lose their senses and indulge in adrenaline-fuelled bloodlust, what's the first thing that happens? When humans indulge too much in thrill and excitement for wins to satisfy their incessant egos, what's the first thing that happens?
They lose their ability to reason and react in a logical manner.
This is something that we often see portrayed in movies. We often see a cold-blooded but calculated hitman who never fails a job. Yet, it was much harder to achieve that level of control in reality for most people. I'm not an exception until I slip into a zone of not caring anymore. The level of stress of constantly thinking on overdrive can be very tiring. Only those with a lot of self-discipline can go against the instinct to hunt or run.
If the mind has no direction, every action will fall into chaos. When an enemy shoots, a person in control will know to dodge behind cover and reposition for a battle with a higher chance of winning in a defensive game. Reloading behind cover while waiting for an approaching enemy and counting down the time to swing out for the kill is only something possibly thought of by a person who keeps their mind turned on despite a potentially life-threatening situation.
Some would claim that it boils down to experience, and they're not wrong. However, to accumulate experience, one has to grow and stay alive to learn from mistakes constantly. Valorant is a controlled simulated environment that allows me to experience something close to an all-out battlefield in a mafia turf war. After all, there's no way I will get out alive from a real mafia turf war crossfire.
During the 30-day training arc, I learned a lot about the game Valorant and made many friends. More importantly, with the new perspective of a shooter, I will be able to write more vivid gunfight scenes with various mentalities. It's a fun game with the right people, but I will take a break from it for a while after playing it daily in August, as it takes quite a toll on my wrist. If you want to write action-packed gunfight scenes with a deep emotional read, I would recommend giving Valorant a whirl!