Hiding SR adjustment metrics is admitting they are broken

Competitive Discussion
Hi everyone! I'm a new player who just got this game shortly after Christmas. I am only interested in competitive and the occasional arcade mode game. Generally, I am only interested in playing games -- usually board games -- against other humans. I have no interest in solitaire, puzzles, playing against AI, story-driven games, or similar.

I have no complaints about my SR. I am a new player and I'm not very good. I'm learning about mouse dpi/sens configuration, aim training, which peripherals to buy--not to mention still learning the maps and muscle training. What I am very concerned about, however, is *improvement*. I play games to improve relative to other humans. I actually like losing as it forces me to carefully review my decisions and learn from my mistakes. When I start winning consistently is usually when I stop playing.

In Overwatch, the means of gauging your improvement is not wins and losses, but SR. This makes sense because good players playing good players and bad players playing bad players may have similar win/loss records. This is no different than ELO in Chess. The difference is that in Overwatch your SR adjustment is ALSO impacted by other factors. Keeping the Chess analogy, this is akin to being able to mitigate your ELO loss by taking extra pieces. Not only will this not change the outcome of a game you are already losing, it can cause you to lose more games if, when sensing a disadvantage you begin going only for pieces instead of trying to win the game. As evolutionary psychology reveals, humans are risk adverse and tend to overestimate potential danger. As such, it would be particularly difficult to avoid this pitfall.

What makes matters worse is the criteria for SR adjustment in Overwatch are hidden. Blizzard says they don't want to reveal them because people will "game the system". But if these metrics truly evaluated players' ability to meaningfully contribute to match victory, what exactly is Blizzard avoiding? Does Blizzard not want people to contribute to their teams? Does Blizzard not want the caliber of players and matches to improve? Does Blizzard not want players to be able to set meaningful goals for themselves?

The answer is of course that these metrics do not accurately evaluate meaningful contribution towards victory. They are broken. Blizzard knows it, and it's not even their fault. After all, how *could* the metrics be meaningful? The traveling salesman problem demonstrates how difficult it is for computers to evaluate positioning. Similarly, two DPS will perform better supported by shields, heals, and buffs than the same two would in a 6-DPS team--even though quite possibly the 6-DPS team would have a better chance of victory simply because the two players insta-locking DPS cannot get the job done and refuse to switch.

Academically, one might argue that the metrics work as long as players are unaware of them. The pseudo-quantum-mechanics "observer" argument. But unfortunately the cat's already out of the bag. Players don't need to know the specific details; merely perceiving their existence is enough to warrant behavioral change. A cursory purview of these forums and others show a "culture cult" formed around (often dishearteningly small sample set) analysis and quasi-mysticism, as players try to do everything they can to up their SR. And even if you could shut that all out, play for victory and trust in Blizzard's metrics to recognize you as you deserve, you have to deal with the fact that the metrics were ideally designed around a team of 6 trying to win--not a team of 3 or however many are left after you take out the players who are trying to game the stats, or throw because of toxicity, or dc, or whatever. They still fail you, perfect or not.

One solution would be to incorporate the metrics into the victory condition. If the game is actually about elims, let's have more FFA. Is is about objective time? Sure, we can make sure only to cap to 90%, move away and come back again, rinse-repeat--if that's what it takes to "win". I mean, is it a game or a cruel psychological experiment? Are you all in your lab coats watching: "What is he doing just standing there waiting for his team to respawn? Doesn't he know he could be farming hero damage?" I think you have a market for most of the game modes you can imagine, you just have to tell people the actual victory conditions if you want them to take it seriously.

Personally, the solution I would advocate is to make SR based only on wins, losses, and SR difference. At all levels. But this won't work without also giving grouping and guilds some serious attention. Focus on Overwatch's ability to be an interesting team game and not another K/D ratio grinder. There's real potential there and it's exciting, but there are no in game tools to help people to really play (and learn and improve) as a team.
I think it might be a KD grinder. I gain more and lose less SR with Reinhardt if I swing away instead of sheild.
There is no incentive to work as a team. Nobody, knows the amount of impact performance based metrics actually have on your SR in this competitive system, but the prevailing thought is to pad your stats by filling a damage role, never switch heroes, and simply play for yourself. The team part and coordination is secondary to the 'I'm carrying' mentality.

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