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Sore Winners: When Competitiveness Can Go Too Far
Monday , 22 February 2016 , 05 : 27 PM

Hey, Cassie here, the tallest in the Vault crew (Dylan would attest otherwise, but it’s definitely me). I also have the best pet and am the best at sports. But I am getting carried away…its not about being the best at every thing, or coming first…or is it?

Let’s talk about competitiveness in gaming. Do you play to win? Or is it just a bit of fun? Do you shy away from playing with certain people because of the way they play? Is winning the game the only reason you play?

I am an inherently competitive person, this is mostly due to my mother, who I swear has Little River Band’s “Playing to Win” as a constant soundtrack each time she goes out and plays basketball. I developed my taste for winning playing board games as a kid, and much to both my brother’s (and my own) dismay, I would constantly win Monopoly, and so he no longer wanted to play that game (or any other games, for that matter), against me. When I grew up, and started playing more interesting and a bit more in depth games, I found a similar pattern arise, where some people no longer wanted to play games against me because I would always win. Now when I say ‘always win’, I don’t mean I always would. I would definitely seem like a lot, however because of the way I was winning. Making a big deal about how certain rules were played, not letting others take back a turn if they did something by mistake, yelling about a rule and diffusing the fun, and even straight-up being a sore winner and rubbing it in the face of the other players: all of these made for a fairly unpleasant gaming experience.

Throughout the years however, I have changed the way I play games. Enjoying the games became more than just winning. I wanted to have fun with the players and wanted them to have fun, too. The types of games that I wanted to play changed. Theme is now a big factor. If I can become a certain character in the game or work towards a goal that ties in with the theme I start to make my own “game within a game”. Co-operative games are one way you can start to change your gaming habits as well, as you can work within a team instead of against everyone else. You do have to be aware that you are not playing the game for all the other players, however. Role-playing games in particular enlightened me to the fact that you may play a game that doesn’t necessarily end with the top points scored the main goal. 

I’ve become more aware of how I play games now. You can still be competitive without making your sole aim in a game to win at any cost. Here's a few ways you can improve your own gaming habits every day to increase your own an other's gaming experience:

  • Think about why else you want to play games with people. I now try to increase my enjoyment by role-playing throughout the game, letting small things go if they don’t really affect the gameplay too much (such as mixing up a rule or two).
  • Don't be overly smug about winning, if you do win.
  • Don't over analyse the game afterwards or point out exactly the way you won. If the other players want to talk about specific things in the game afterwards, you can, but make suggestions how they can improve, instead of pointing out how what you did was amazing.
  • If you have a tried and true way of winning a certain type of game, try to improve your own skills by trying different strategies within that game. Beat yourself at your own game!

I’m not saying you have to let others win, you can still be competitive without folding your hand, but thinking about what steps you can take to increase your enjoyment of gaming can benefit you and your fellow players in the long run.

Some recommendations for games with an excellent theme or a co-operative mechanic are:

  • Mysterium (this one’s a double-whammy, it has an excellent theme and is a co-op)
  • Codenames (this one you’re a part of a team, so you want you’re whole team to win!)
  • Colt Express (one time I spent the whole game with a Texan/Western accent – including a few ‘Yee-haws!’)
  • Hanabi (the ultimate test in communication, it can definitely lead to some exciting fireworks!)
  • Gloom (a fantastic game for role-playing your characters)
  • The Big Book of Madness (play as wizards and witches trying to close a monster book, lots of role-playing opportunities and it is a co-op)
  • Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Fragged Empire, Star Wars RPGs (all excellent for bonding with friends and increasing your enjoyment without losing friends)