While I’ve seen a couple of episodes in Rodney Smith’s Watch It Played Youtube series, I had never listened to any of his Table Talk segments. He had one, pretty early on, about losing games and while I think he’s got a pretty decent perspective on it, it’s a perspective I don’t share.
Why? Because I couldn’t care less if I win or if I lose in tabletop games. I only care how fun the game is while I’m at the table.
Now I will admit that I’ve gotten a lot softer over the years, I was a little more competitive in my early life, but I’ve never been one of those people who have to win games at any cost, whether you’re talking about RPGs, board games, video games or anything else. Yes, it feels good to win and it stings a little bit to lose, but for me, the whole point of playing a game in the first place is to have a good time with the people I’m playing with. It’s a social experience. It’s entertainment. The game is just a vehicle for the experience, not the point of the experience.
However, I’ve played with people from all walks of gaming life, including people who are the worst winners and losers imaginable, people who gloat when they win and flip the table (literally) when they lose. I don’t know if I’ve told this story, but many, many years ago, I was playing a game of Star Fleet Battles with my gaming group and one of the members was my brother-in-law, although he was several years from gaining that title. I don’t remember the details of the game, I just know that I was basically kicking his ass with my fleet. It wasn’t anything personal, I was just getting better die rolls than he was. He got pissed. He picked up all of his ships and left the game. Now this wasn’t some small game, this was a big fleet battle scenario with 5-6 people involved and dozens of ships, pulling his ships totally unbalanced the game and we had to stop, after having invested several hours of gameplay. The move has been called “The Hand of God” maneuver and has been a joke for decades around those of us who were there.
Me? I’d never do that. No matter how badly I was losing, no matter how poorly I was doing, I’d stay and play until the end in all but the most extreme circumstances, even when I was somewhat more competitive back in the day. The competition has never been the goal of the thing, it became the mechanism through which the goal, the fun, was achieved. To be honest, consistently bad winners or bad losers are people I avoid playing games with and I know some people who are like that. They don’t end up at my table. I might find other ways to enjoy their company but gaming… forget it. I don’t get people who are willing to throw away friendships and fun, just to say “I win!”
So what’s your perspective on this? I look forward to seeing what people have to say in the comments.