I wrote a very long comment in reply to some thoughts on my last blog entry, and decided I had enough to say that it was just going to get another entry. For those interested, the previous topic was on letting your wife win games, http://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/327/ensuring-repeat-plays.
1) This is a generalization based on my experience. I understand that there are many wives out there who could (and do) give their husbands very regular drubbings, but that's not my situation, nor is it the situation of most husbands I know. Gaming culture is generally more alien to women, as are certain cultural values like competitiveness. If your situation/marriage is notably different than mine, certainly feel free to disregard my advice, but it does not make the advice any less valid in most situations.
2) The point is that the game will be more fun for her, even if it comes at the cost of some of your fun. I would love it if I didn't have to pull any punches, but most people don't have the patience to sit through repeated beatings before they get better, especially when the game isn't one they were particularly interested in the first place. Frustration is a commodity, and everyone has their limit. Know it, and avoid it. The end result, being able to play the games I want with the woman I love, is worth holding back some.
3) The points about me being a dastard and manipulating my wife are somewhat valid, but very often it takes some manipulation to overcome our negative expectations. In my mind, it goes like this: games are fun when there's tension; games are fun when you have a chance at winning; games are more fun when you win; and games lose a lot of their fun when you are being thrashed the whole time. If you're trying to convert people, you want to give them as many positive experiences with the game as possible (and I, for one, don't even find it fun to smash someone who doesn't know/understand/isn't good at a particular game, and this applies to many more situations than my wife).out4blood wrote:While your strategy may seem like the key to a good marriage, it is not the key to good gaming. Purposely throwing a game is very condescending, and a real gamer would probably be very offended. Does your wife know you're letting her win? If she's not really into gaming, then consider whether you're being a little selfish manipulating her (through deception) into gaming with you. Are there other activities you both might enjoy more?To address a couple things here:
4) She's not a gamer, and that's the point. She (or any non-gamer I know) doesn't really mind that, if she wins a game, I probably let her win. She isn't driven by the same competitive pride that I am, and that's completely ok. The experience of winning is enough (and IMHO, the drive to win has to begin with an experience of winning, earned or unearned).
5) No, it's not the best gaming, but it's a start, and everyone has to start somewhere. We play a fair amount of lighter games as well, the Twilight Struggle thing is really a first for us. If it doesn't go well, if she doesn't find herself enjoying it after several plays, we'll move on to something else. The values you're espousing, especially the cold competitiveness most serious gamers have, are (IMHO) more learned values than native.
6) There are plenty of non-gaming activities that we do together. For example, we're both outdoorsy people, and we tend to go hiking frequently when the weather's nice. Movies are a big thing as well. That being said, when you love someone, you try to take the things they value into yourself as well, and boardgames are valuable to me. I mean, heck, last night I watched Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I violently hate musicals, tend not to like old movies overmuch, and object somewhat to the morality being held up, but it wasn't so awful because it made her very happy. I even enjoyed it in a way. It's just part of being in love - it doesn't even seem like you're two people, in many ways.
Bet you wish yours did....
10 Feb 2011
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10 Feb 2011
Now, I realize this next point is going to get quite a few people annoyed at me, and probably get me shouted at, but I'm making it anyways. In my experience, it's 100% correct.
2)Let your spouse win.
Now, there is an art to this. You need to make moves which subtly undermine your position, or don't take advantage of obvious tactical errors on his/her part without blatantly tanking yourself. You really need to especially avoid very punishing plays when games are very zero-sum.
To draw an example, when I'm playing Twilight Struggle with her, I'm very slow to coup, because it actually removes her influence from the board. Racing for open spots isn't so rough, because she isn't as attached to them, but taking something which she owns is just a bad experience, and you want to associate good feelings with the game. Once she has decided that she likes the game, you can start couping (is that even a word) more efficiently, but let it sink in first.
Weird enough, I really find this to be the case even with some of my gaming friends. I have quite a few friends who have very narrow taste in games - Scott only plays euros, my brother hates train games, etc.... When you're dealing with a game someone is predisposed to dislike, one of the ways to convince them they do actually like it is to let them win.
See, winning is associated with understanding. When you win a game, it's a confirmation of the fact that you get the game you're playing (this might just be the way my mind works, but I think it's more than that). Really, losing's not even that rough when you can point to a specific factor and say "This, this is why I lost." When you lost and you have no clue why, it's just hugely frustrating.
Also, as much as we preach that losing badly to good players is the best way to learn, it's not an encouragement to non-gamers or lite gamers. I'm happy to play people who are better at Go than me, because I know I'll be better in the end, but even then it's difficult to have the motivation to get started because I know I'm going to lose. Losing is no fun in any occasion, but it's worse when even the potential of winning is withheld. If your spouse knows that you're going to win any new game the two of you play, she's going to bring that expectation to the table every time, and it's going to poison the experience.
So swallow your pride on this one, make a couple poor decisions, and let her win. Even experienced gamers are prone to like games they win occasionally, so how much more our non-gamer wives? I know it won't be as fun for you, but her enjoyment should color yours.
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09 Feb 2011
Now that I have your attention, I'm going to rant about obscure games and niche mechanics that are of particular interest to me....
Anyways, I feel like I see rantings all over the geek about miserable husbands (or wives) who desperately want their significant others to enjoy this wonderful hobby that we share. It's something that I, as one of those who married a very non-gamer wife, have spent quite a bit of time thinking about and working on, and I have some conclusions that I have reached.
To give a brief overview of the situation, I've been pretty heavily into serious boardgames for a couple years now, and before we were together, my wife didn't even know that boardgaming was actually a hobby. She was faintly aware of mass market titles like Risk or Clue, and had a general dislike of Monopoly, but she really wasn't aware that stuff like Settlers existed.
Now, after being married for 7 months, I have a comfortable weekly game night with some friends, and we try to spend at least one night a week gaming together. She's fond of Dominion and Pandemic, but hasn't quite figured out how to deal with the heavier games yet, so she usually skips the bigger game night. The last couple weeks, we've been messing with Twilight Struggle, and I have to say it's an absolute blessing to play one of the best games ever with my wife, even when it's mostly just teaching.
Now, I'm going to go over a different concept each entry, but this first one is very near and dear to my heart, and one which I think people usually neglect:
1) Have a good marriage.
Now I realize this sounds kind of silly, but I find that a spouse's receptiveness to the other spouse's agenda, whether it's gaming, washing the dishes, or redecorating the living room, is hugely dependent on the general state of the marriage. If you can live your marriage with a genuine, full-hearted desire for the happiness of your spouse, it colors every experience.
If you have to drag your spouse begrudgingly to the game table every time, I guarantee you it's not going to go well. Expectations condition the way we experience everything, and if you go into a game expecting to despise it, odds are you will.
But true giving of one's self, true self-sacrificing love does reach across all areas of marriage. When your spouse knows that, by merely coming to the table and being willing to sit and listen to long rules explanations and figure out tricky mechanics will make you happy, they do it happily. And your happiness, in such situations, does genuinely reflect on them. I mean, if I can spend an hour in the evening going through papers (one of the most god-forsaken tasks on this earth) cheerfully because I know it will make her happy, anything is possible.
I realize this sounds very pie-in-the-sky, but I guess my point is that you should make sure your relationship with your spouse is right before you try to drag her into your hobby. When a marriage is good and healthy, and you can treat each other with genuine charity, crazy things can happen. My wife played Twilight Struggle and didn't hate it. Seriously, anything can happen.
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