The Jaded Gamer

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My Pet Hates #3, Game Spoiling Whiners

Alec Chapman
United Kingdom
Lincolnshire
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In hindsight, I should have posted pet hates #2 and #3 at the same time, to save confusion about my point of view.

Basically, the whole Kingmaking issue became a popular complaint as the result of a few losing players adopting the position of game spoiler, which is just a less obvious version of the childish practice of board flipping.

These people have caused a bigger problem, namely the mistrust of seemingly unmotivated moves favourable to the eventual winner, which fogs the issue. Of course, it has become such a prevalent complaint because of other poor losers, but that's a matter for my last post.

Basically, I play games to have fun. Listening to people whine and moan is not fun.

Note: In negotiation games, whining is a time honoured tactic and it is reasonable to employ it. Unfortunately for me I keep getting caught whenever I try and mope convincingly!

So what are your experiences of sore losers?
As a child I was an appalling loser. Often resorting to the tantrum and fight approach so popular with kids after a Christmas game of monopoly (now I only cry and punch people when they suggest Monopoly)
I've already said the worst ones I've seen as an adult accuse another player of being the reason for their defeat out of malice or favouritism. Others insisted on running back through the game picking out every moment when they would have acted differently.
I've also been at the table with people who complain incessantly and without any openness to persuasion about how they never stood a chance due to bad design, usually after their first play of something (see Pet Hate #1).

Add your experiences in the comments section since I have probably been relatively lucky.

Nobody likes to lose, but it may be time for an important reality check from one gamer to another...

Games do not, on the whole, matter.

Far from being a criticism of games or their players I would actually say that this is the very best thing about them. If you are getting upset about losing a game, it's probably because you have forgotten this most basic of facts about the hobby.

Friendly competition may be one thing and you may take part in gaming tournaments, but like many competitive activities it is very easy to get swallowed up in the feeling that the outcomes are crucially important to your self-image or external image.

True Fact: It is not whether you won the game that determines how other gamers see you. It's how you played the game.

Winning is pretty incidental to me in games. It happens sometimes and it feels pretty good, especially if my plans all worked out, but it is important in these situations to acknowledge and be thankful to your fellow player(s). If you don't you're an ass.

This is equally true if you lose. It's just more difficult to be magnanimous in defeat, especially if you feel hard done by.

There are two groups of game losers for me
Group A: People who almost won.
Group B: People who didn't almost win.

Those who tend to shout "kingmaker" are from group A. It is probably harsher on Group A to lose than the rest, because of that tantalising feeling of near victory...

John Cleese (Clockwise) wrote:
I can take the despair. It's the hope I can't stand.
And to all potential game destroying folk, those of the mindset of "well, I can't win any more so I'm just going to act in as annoying a way as possible" - you're not helping anyone, least of all yourself. Remember when you had trouble finding opponents? Want to go through that again? STOP BEING A CHILD.

How do I square this with my view on Kingmaking? Simple. It's not a requirement of gaming that you act in a polite and considerate way. It's a requirement of being a decent human being. If you are the sort of player who favours one opponent over another for no reason you are probably deficient in many other ways. Compete to avoid last place or something. If the vistor is collateral damage in that then fine, you were true to yourself and how you wanted to play the game. Don't change your approach just to be an ass.

Of course, it could be that you have perfectly understandable metagame reasons for favouring someone or disliking someone. As long as you are true to yourself, we should all know that metagaming is real and valid. If Martin screwed me over in the last game of Cosmic, I am more likely to expect he will in the next - making me less likely to trust him and favour his defeat. A face to face board game does not take place in a locked box and under anonymous conditions. That's what internet gaming is for!

So, in conclusion, here's the thing:

Whether you lost by one point or by twenty, by fair means or foul, your own mistakes or someone else's - there's only one thing you need to repeat to yourself in order that you might keep it in perspective:

Games do not, on the whole, matter.
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