How I Learned to Enjoy the Game and Stop Obsessing Over Winning
Dr. Reiner Knizia, designer of many, many classic boardgames, once said “When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning”. So true. I thought I understood this before, but I didn’t. To me, this quote isn’t just about being a good winner/loser; it also encompasses enjoying the journey.
Several times thoughout this challenge I would tell myself before we started a game that I wasn’t going to over analyze my moves to the point of absurdity because I needed to enjoy the experience. Inevitably, I would find myself doing the calculations in my head of the benefits/costs of each possible move such that I hardly even noticed that my opponent was even in the room. I could have been playing against a computer for all the attention I was giving to the social experience.
The social experience, for me, is the most rewarding thing about game playing, but it was too easy to focus on being the winner. Everyone needs to play to win, or it isn’t fun. That’s why games with lopsided rules or unbalanced game play are no fun because both opponents can’t really play to win. My focus was often playing to be the winner; this subtle distinction made for a huge difference in my enjoyment. Once I learned how to actually “play” with others, it became much more enjoyable!
Unfortunately, some games are just bound to fail with specific groups. We found one such game (Call of Cthtulhu) that just doesn’t work with us. We become overly hostile while playing it, and it never ends well. We have learned that games with such overt conflict, where every move is about tearing the other person’s position down, do not work with us. Games are all about gaining the edge, but building up my own settlement/economy engine/zombie horde in comparison to how my opponent is doing is vastly different than simply bringing theirs down to the ground consistently.
It actually relates really well to life. We compete at EVERYTHING. You’ll notice that good things often come about when the “competitors” are building upon/creating their own stuff; in contrast, when we compete by tearing down others to look better ourselves, no one wins. War. Smear campaigns. I-told-you-so matches. We need to make sure that we are enriching ourselves and the world around us.
Anyway, I could probably write on many other things that I’ve noticed as we’ve played so much. It’s really amazing. We have slowed down quite a bit since it has stopped. I’m really grateful to Jessica for doing this with me, and I’m sure she is as well.