Coping with Mapping Anxiety

Mapping is a creative artform, and like all the other arts, you put a small piece of yourself into every map. As such, it can be emotionally difficult to receive a lot of downvotes and negative feedback, or even getting no engagement at all. This is especially true for those that are already sensitive by nature, or those that have never put themselves out there before. However, it is important to remember that your maps, and what people think of them, has no bearing on your worth as a person. You’re also not alone in your feelings of imposter syndrome, anxieties around uploading, or trouble coping with harsh criticism. Raising awareness and starting conversations about these feelings in the first step to addressing them.

This page is not a substitute, in any way, for real, professional help. If these sorts of feelings plague you, especially in your day-to-day life, then please consider reaching out to a professional, or someone close to you. There is no shame in needing help; it does not make you weak or needy. It is important to have these sorts of conversations and acknowledge them as very real feelings that anyone can experience, and that sometimes there are greater issues lying beneath the surface.

Likes and Dislikes

It is very easy to look at a bunch of numbers, which naturally have a quantitative value, and try and apply them as a way of judging quality. There’s even a public rating system directly attached to BeatSaver for every single map. It can be difficult to look at these and not take them to heart, especially if your map receives a lot of downvotes or very few downloads. However, there are so many factors that can go into these numbers, and it is unfair to you to try and use them to validate your maps, and yourself. If you are feeling anxious over a lot of dislikes or low downloads, consider some of these points:

  • They may have misclicked.
  • They may not like the song.
  • They may have been unhappy they failed.
  • The lights may have been uncomfortable.
  • The song could be very unpopular.
  • Your name might not be very well-known.
  • You posted at a bad time.
  • Your map was buried by other maps very quickly.

Of course, it’s also entirely possible that you made mistakes within your map, or that the player did not agree with your mapping choices. That’s okay. There is always something new to learn, especially in the early stages of your mapping journey. Again, a ‘bad’ map doesn’t reflect on you, not even as a mapper. Everyone learns at different speeds, and everyone has different opinions on what does and doesn’t work. If you notice that you’re getting a lot of negative feedback on your maps, take a step back and consider if you need to go back and work on some of the fundamentals. If you do, that’s also okay. Your ‘bad’ maps will not haunt you or hang over you forever; they are not permanent, and no one will think about them as much as you do.

If you have controversial mapping opinions, or are mapping primarily for yourself and choose to ignore certain mapping rules, you are more likely to attract negative feedback (although you may also attract a very loyal fanbase that love your specific style!). It’s completely fine to map for yourself and to create what makes you happy, but it can be a trade-off that you must be willing to accept as a mapper. It’s possible that, with time, the community’s opinions will grow to be more aligned with your own, but you cannot count on it. As such, everytime you choose to break a commonly accepted mapping rule, consider whether or not you’re okay with your map not being well-received.

If you’re struggling to cope, consider some of these options:

  • Keep your maps private. If you truly map only for yourself, and you’re unhappy with how people respond to your maps, then there’s no problem with keeping them only for yourself.
  • Don’t look at Bsaber or BeatSaver. If you’ve made a habit of it, you might find it difficult to not subconsciously open a new tab and check, but it’s a good habit to break. Obsessing won’t make you happy, and no number will never be large enough for long.
  • Review your knowledge and get more testplays. If you don’t understand why your maps are getting so many dislikes, reach out to some more experienced mappers and ask for help.
  • Take a break from mapping. Mapping should be a fun hobby, and if it causes you a lot of grief, it might be time to step away and take a break.
  • Speak to a professional. It’s only human to feel hurt if someone dislikes your work, but panic attacks or constant intrusive thoughts are a sign of an underlying problem that requires the help of a professional.

Critical Feedback

Not every map you make can be perfect, and sometimes you might hear your map's flaws laid out directly in front of you. This can hurt, and might make you feel defensive, but it’s always best to take a breather first if you find yourself getting emotional.

Always consider whether the feedback is meant to be constructive, or destructive. Needlessly harsh language, or personal attacks, should never be present in constructive criticism, and can be disregarded. However, people predominantly want to help, especially when giving testplay feedback. After taking a step back, try and take what’s said as having been done so with good intentions, and try and listen objectively. When we spend so long on a map, we can become attached to certain parts of it, and this can feel like an attack on our ideas or abilites, rather than an issue with the map itself. Still, an outside perspective can be invaluable. Try not to let your emotions get in the way, and if you find you’re not able to, consider whether you might need to take a break, and reach out to someone.

Keep in mind that critical feedback on a map is just that; feedback on your map. It has nothing to do with you, personally. Don’t rely on other people to love your map in order for you to feel good about it; you should, first and foremost, be happy with your own work, even if that feels difficult at times.

Upload Anxiety

It is normal to feel some apprehension when uploading a map, and submitting it for ‘public judgement’. For most people, these feelings go away with time and experience, but it can stick around for others. It’s important to consider why you are so nervous about uploading; are you afraid of not getting many downloads, or getting a lot of dislikes? What does those things really mean, to you? Consider whether your fears are realistic and grounded in reality. For example, being afraid that you might upload a map and everyone will hate it so much that they will never play your maps again is catastrophizing.

The worst case scenario is that your map only receives dislikes and some bad reviews, but if that is the case, there is nothing stopping you from taking the map down. One bad map (or even multiple, in the grand scheme of things) will not haunt you forever. No one will remember it more than you will. Most mappers have maps that they have taken down as some point or another.

Imposter Syndrome

You might be surprised to know how many of your favorite mappers hate their own maps. Many people - from mappers, to artists, to professionals in other careers - can all feel as if they have no idea what they’re doing, and feel afraid of being ‘found out’. Sometimes, just knowing that you’re not alone in feeling this way can be a great help. We are often our own worst critics, and we have seen the behind-the-scenes of our entire mapping process, not just the polished final product. We know what part of the map we struggled with and are hyper-aware of every little detail, when the vast majority of people would never know. We know what parts of mapping we find challenging, and as we get better, we only become more and more aware of everything we DON’T know. This is all a natural part of learning and growing, but it’s important to understand how far you’ve come, and how much you really do know.

Take a look at some of your older maps, maybe a cringe a bit, and you will realise how much more you know and understand. Maybe you’ve been experimenting recently, and it hasn’t worked out well, but at least you had that knowledge foundation to try new things and expand on everything you’ve learned.

It’s also very easy to focus on the negatives. It’s possible your last map got 8 downvotes, but what about the other 156 upvotes? Those 156 enjoyed your map enough to actually vote on it. Actively looking for the positives is a great way to combat these feelings.

Helping the Community

If you’ve ever had someone leave a positive review on your map, or DM you to tell you how much they love your map(s), you’ll know just how amazing it feels. Unfortunately, this is a relatively rare occurrence, even for the best mappers. Still, it doesn’t have to be. Be the change you want to see in the world! Making other people happy can have a profound effect on your own happiness, and a great way to do that is to let other mappers know how much you love their maps. It’s a nice way to form connections with other people within the community, and even one review can inspire other people to do the same thing, which is a snowballing effect.

It’s important, both as a community and as individuals, to be open about mental health and negative emotions that are large issues in gaming social circles. Knowing that other mappers aren’t infallible, and that we can all experience the same emotions, can be extremely important in helping others to help themselves.


Content in this section was authored by Pyrowarfare.