I used to be a lot more competitive than I am now.  I’m not sure when this change came about — my guess is partly as a result of tons of collaborative work in college, partly due to finding out the competition was insanely rougher in the wider world (e.g. past high school), and partly because of a slightly deeper understanding of my own motivations.

I think that for a lot of people, the meaningful “competition” is with one’s previous effort — continually striving to improve one’s skills and then demonstrate it tangibly via breaking personal bests.  This might even define “casual competitive,” which is a kind of player type we discuss a lot in talking about Magic and games in general.  In some sense, I think this is the default way to play games and sports.  It takes significant effort (for me, at least) to not care about how I perform with respect to my previous experience, if I have done it before (and haven’t forgotten!).

Is the range of competitiveness affected by how much you track your own ability?  I totally understand the nature of competition that involves beating other people – there is certainly positive incentive to play against others, and feel good about doing better than them.  But if you don’t take any particular utility from smashing others (and I don’t, particularly), do you convert to being competitive when you realize – consciously or not – that you are reaching the limits of self-improvement and you need others to compete against in order to break your previous boundaries?

(All of these thoughts were spurred on due to me considering a more rigorous workout schedule – routines that I always base on beating personal bests.  I then thought about the nature of competition [since there are clear benefits to being driven to succeed based on external factors] and whether I could incorporate it into my routines without needing to make other people share my experience.)