I'd like to gather some opinions on a topic that I think is very relevant to Mario Kart 8, specifically with the competitive community. I've been thinking a lot on this, and I believe an adjustment in mindset within this community could go a long way to extending the longevity of the competitive scene. To avoid confusion and derailing, let me define my two terms: Skill-based competition seeks to measure skill. Participants who engage in skill-based competitions aim to prove to their opponents that they are superior at whatever event or activity the competition involves. The ideal skill-based competition is one where the most talented and competent team or individual wins every time, and the results of said competition can be used as an accurate relative measure of competency amongst the participants. External rewards may be put in place, but the ultimate goal of skill-based competition is to prove one's ability. Examples: - professional sports - board games like chess - video games such as Starcraft, Street Fighter, etc. Stakes-based competition places the external reward for victory as the center of attention, rather than the participants. The use of the word "competition" means that the participants must be capable of influencing their chances of success in a predictable way (if not it would just be gambling!). However, stakes-based competition does not need to be an accurate indicator of skill. In fact, an added randomness factor often adds to the enjoyment of stakes-based competition. The presence of a desired reward naturally inspires a play-to-win mentality, while the unpredictability prevents struggling participants from giving up. Examples: - professional poker - game shows such as Wheel of Fortune - trading card games Tell me, after reading these two definitions, which one does your typical game of Mario Kart sound like to you? There's no right answer, to be honest, since everyone has their own idea of what Mario Kart means to them. For me, it lands far to the stakes-based side of the spectrum. Whether you treat Mario Kart as a skill-based or stakes-based competition (or neither), I'd argue you can't ignore the traits it shares with the stakes-based examples I've listed. Which leads me to my main point: if Mario Kart has more in common with poker and Wheel of Fortune than it does chess or Starcraft, why do we as competitive-minded gamers keep trying to play it like the latter? I partially blame Nintendo. The use of a VR system for online worldwide races implies that individual races can be used as a barometer of a player's skill. This is simply not true. You cannot say anything about a person's success based on their position in a single race. But, you could also argue that without VR, there would be nothing at stake, thus stakes-based racing would be equally impossible without VR. So while Nintendo certainly could have come up with a better system for creating incentives for winning, the blame can't be solely on Ninty. I pin the rest of the issue on the fact that Mario Kart is simply a rarity in the gaming world. The vast majority of competitive games are either definitively skill-based (shooters, sim and arcade racers, RTS and strategy games) or not intended for competitive play at all (single player games, party games, alternative genres). Mario Kart is one of a few outliers that fit into neither category: not nearly deterministic enough to be a skill-based competition, but far from being a game whose outcomes are out of the player's control. Therefore, I have a proposition for anyone who has made it this far through my rambling. Give stakes-based competition a shot. Next time you pick up your controller and boot up MK8, go in with the mindset of a stakes-based competitor: "I'm going to give myself the very best chance to win, let the pieces fall where they will, and savor the competition either way." Start thinking of ways that clan competition might incorporate a stakes-based approach. If enough players can embrace this method, we might be able to move past all the complaints about imperfect balance and squeeze as much competition out of this game as possible.