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Subject: On losing and feeling something about it rss

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zofia
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Warning: may contain broken English

First of all - Cecily, thank you for bringing up this theme! I have similar problems, though not equally the same. And I was considering posting in your thread, but finally ended up with writing a lot about myself so I decided to post it separately.

To me, some gaming moments become a real struggle too. If i cannot get something to work in the game, it can really hurt and, like Tara said, I have to fight with
ttallan wrote:
that crushing feeling of I never win anything.


But there is something different in my case: I actually do win often. And there are games in which my SO hasn't won once (and he's totally ok with it). And since there have already been given a lot of really good advices in your thread, I'll just say a few words from a slightly different angle.

I completely agree with those who said about changing your focus from the result to the process, adjusting your strategies, discussing the process with your partner, finding games which would give you a different kind of experience, maybe try handicaps and so on. Some of this could work and all of this worth trying. But all these things are about gaming itself, they belong to the gaming situation and are not intended to go beyond its limits. And your emotions about it exist not only when you are playing, they are part of your "real" (opposed to gaming) life and experience.

Thus, from my experience it's not necessarily about winning or losing in the game, the most is going on in my head. There is no guarantee that by increasing percentage of wins you'll stop feeling insecure when you lose. For me, it doesn't work: I win and I still have bad moments when losing.

There is always going on some sort of meta-game that involves us as persons, not only as just players. Whilst gaming is considered to be just pure fun, some ideal isolated situation where there is no place for some everyday awkwardness and bad (read: inappropriate in this specific situation) feelings, in reality this is by no means always the case. I always watch with interest how people are speaking about games and their gaming experience. I've read several threads on this topic here on BGG, and there was always somebody who was too positive about their attitude (comments like 'just grow up' and so on).

So there is an image of a nice healthy play when all the experience stays inside these 1,5 or 2 hours of gaming and it doesn't matter if you won or lost, because the game always has its end and with the new play everyone has their right to start from the very beginning without being labeled as loser.

But in reality it's not always that simple. BTW animals who play demonstrate special 'play face' or 'play pose' to signal that their behavior isn't serious, they can attack or bite but everybody knows that it's just for fun. So they have a very clear separation between play and real life. And of course we humans have it too, but at the same time, thanks to being humans, we also are able to consciously regard a virtual experience of any kind on a par with the real life one.

And it's a benefit and a weakness at the same time. Thanks to it we are able not only to play games but also to talk about them, form communities around them, create and share memories, memes and so on.

And my point is that

1) having bad feelings about losing is a result of blending the real-life experience with the gaming one

2) which is nothing to be ashamed of per se because the reverse side of having troubles losing is this ability to create meta-senses that we have as human beings. Without it gaming couldn't play any significant role in our lives, we wouldn't hang out here speaking to each other after all. Gaming is really just an excuse that gives us an opportunity to communicate, think and experience.

So, knowing what being a 'sore loser' feels like I just want to emphasize that a person shouldn't be blamed for it and the experience and feeling itself shouldn't be marginalized - by the person having it in the first place. It's a part of being a human, no one is perfect and that's all.

Nevertheless the problem stays a problem. I can't say I know the solution for myself but I'm doing some thinking on it.

1. I know that I should be aware of myself and see clearly that if I think smth like I can never win in my life or if I lose it means that as a person I'm..., or I should earn my victory (game as a fun experience doesn't really care if I earned smth or not - it's your inner critic speaks up - btw in whose voice? - and tells you that you should EARN even the little bit of fun in your life).

2. I know, in bare outlines, why I'm having this troubles and their routes go back outward the board gaming into the childhood in the dysfunctional family, abuse and its consequences. This knowledge serves me as a beacon in stressful moments and helps to define a field of action towards solving a problem itself.

3. I realize that there are two sides: how I feel and how I behave. The first is a long hard road that I should travel myself and all written above is about it. But as for my behavior in the very moments of gaming and losing - here I should be strict about it with myself. Since the behavior affects other people it's a first thing to work on. And it should be some small and easy techniques like this by Kathy I've read in one of the threads on this topic:

Mamadallama wrote:
One thing we do is exaggerate our displeasure over losing in a silly way. Turn our lower lips down exaggeratedly and pout. Say "wah wah!" and do the classic twist of our fists over our eyes. Shake our fists at each other and say "I'll get you next time, my pretty!" (use best Wicked Witch impression.) Basically make fun of ourselves for being a bad sport.


4. I write. I'm trying to keep notes on the issue. I even kept notes last time we were playing Letters from Whitechapel and I was the police which is hard to me because of hidden information. Knowing less than my partner is a real stress for me which interrupts me from thinking and remembering all supposed Jack's paths and clues. So I filled several sheets of paper and looked like crazy detective (I know it's against the rules but it really helped me psychologically and I hope that some day I will be able to do without notes). I'm writing this wall of the text here and it feels therapeutic. In your thread, Cecily, I liked Stephanie's post very much:

stephmo wrote:

- keep a journal on the game and make notes about what happened. Heck, use session notes here if you want to to see where things could have gone right.
...
This all feels embarrassing and grade-school with the notes, but it's embracing this that will allow any one of us to learn something new.


Well, that's all, I really hope it could be of any help or at least interest for anyone.


Visual reference:

Real life:


Play:


Who can tell the difference
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Pasi Ojala
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aelephanta wrote:
1) having bad feelings about losing is a result of blending the real-life experience with the gaming one

I would go further and say that having positive and negative feelings during a game is what makes the game good. You want to have feelings during the game. If you feel indifferent about what happens in the game, why play it at all? Feeling elated, excited, disappointed, threatened, or angry (at being attacked or betrayed) in a game should help you learn to detect and handle your feelings and select your proper response.

A game is a sandbox where you are allowed to wallow in self-pity, or rage and swear revenge to your opponent(s), experience and process them while the game lasts, then return to the relative safety (hopefully) of your life.

But this requires that you can perform that disconnect between a game and reality. What happens in the game stays in the game.
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Noreen
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I liked your post. I also struggle with being a bad loser. I've been thinking about it for a while and I think its because I suffer from a weird mixture of a big ego and low self-esteem. I always feel that if I lose a game, it reflects poorly on me and it upsets me.

What I didn't realize until fairly recently was how negatively my reactions impact my husband's enjoyment of the game. I think I've been doing better lately, mostly by realizing that I also win more often than I think. And also realizing that if I win, he loses, and I don't think any worse of him for it. So I know he isn't feeling that way towards me.

Ugh. I wish my brain wasn't broken
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Nat
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ngwilliam wrote:
I liked your post. I also struggle with being a bad loser. I've been thinking about it for a while and I think its because I suffer from a weird mixture of a big ego and low self-esteem. I always feel that if I lose a game, it reflects poorly on me and it upsets me.


I had to re-read to check I hadn't written this. This is me all over.
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zofia
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I really appreciate your replies! It took some courage to write this post.

a1bert wrote:
A game is a sandbox where you are allowed to wallow in self-pity, or rage and swear revenge to your opponent(s), experience and process them while the game lasts, then return to the relative safety (hopefully) of your life.

But this requires that you can perform that disconnect between a game and reality. What happens in the game stays in the game.


Totally agree with this as an idea. I hope that seeing the way the things should be is already a little step towards it.


Thank you Noreen!

I agree, low self-esteem is an important factor here. It's also the perfectionist's logic: everything should be done in the best possible way because I'm judged by every step I take. I realize that I'm not but...

Btw I also realize that I don't want to win every time I play, it would be terrible. yuk I just wish I could allow myself to lose.

Oh I wish there was some kind of support group for bad losers where we could share our experience and most importantly talk about our successes and failures. However here it feels like a safe place (I wouls never NEVER write something like this on the Russian-speaking board games website where I am lurking).
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C Bazler
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My husband and I sometimes go through bouts of one of us winning several games in a row, which starts to get to the other half after a while. If a losing streak gets particularly bad, one of us might start getting cranky halfway through the next game if we are doing poorly yet again. This often makes the winner feel bad about winning, so neither of us ends the game happy!

We try to remedy this by playing a co-op game to break up the losing streak. After several competitive games where we're out to get each other, it's nice to work together, if only to remind ourselves that we play games for fun, and to spend time together, not to win.

I am particularly sensitive about making a bad choice in a game, only to have my husband then make a way better move, one that I didn't see. Those moments really make me feel stupid, and can bother me more than simply losing the game (I'll sometimes even win a game and still be disappointed about a bad move I made along the way!). This may be the product of the fact that we have too many games, and I don't get to play many of them enough times to get significantly better at them.
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C Bazler
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Also, do you tend to play nothing but new games all the time? Sometimes that's a factor, because you haven't had enough experience with it. Also, do you tend to be the one to read the rulebook and teach the game, possibly watching video reviews/run-throughs as well? We've found that the player who does these things also has a distinctive leg-up for the first couple of plays.
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Noreen
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aelephanta wrote:
Btw I also realize that I don't want to win every time I play, it would be terrible. yuk I just wish I could allow myself to lose.


Very well said!

aelephanta wrote:
Oh I wish there was some kind of support group for bad losers where we could share our experience and most importantly talk about our successes and failures. However here it feels like a safe place (I wouls never NEVER write something like this on the Russian-speaking board games website where I am lurking).


Well I think this thread would be a good place and also Cecily's original thread. I have a minor success I could share:

I don't like abstracts because I suck at them. I just can't think the three and four moves ahead as is usually required by these types of games. But I'll play them because my husband likes them. We were playing Subdivisions a couple of weeks ago. In the first game I tried to play strategically and failed miserably as usual. I could feel my frustration mounting. So I told myself that what I needed to do was try to just play tactically instead of strategically. This really lessened my frustration. I still lost but wasn't in nearly as bad a mood as I normally would've been.
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ngwilliam wrote:
Ugh. I wish my brain wasn't broken


You know what's awesome though? Everyone's brain is "broken" in some way, shape or form. Knowing that, we're all in the same boat.
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This thread needs more Miyazaki.
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Tara Tallan
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Those of you suffering from the losing dilemma, is it all the time, or only some of the time?

For me, some days losing is no big deal. But on other days it seems like nothing ever goes right and even if I win a game I find I am telling myself I only won because another player made a silly mistake, or some other absurd reason that I'm not worthy. There's that little part of my brain that totally knows how ridiculous I'm being, but of course knowing you're being ridiculous doesn't stop you from feeling it anyway!

I guess I can try to approach the problem of feeling miserable after losing the same way I approach other times I feel miserable with no good reason-- I tell myself that I won't feel this way forever and eventually it will pass. Because-- and I know this to be absolutely true-- no matter how dumb I feel after losing, I'm always ready for another game in a few days at the very most!

It also helps to have an understanding gaming partner.
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cbazler wrote:
After several competitive games where we're out to get each other, it's nice to work together, if only to remind ourselves that we play games for fun, and to spend time together, not to win.


Yea, we are lucky to love co-ops too, working together is the best.

cbazler wrote:
I am particularly sensitive about making a bad choice in a game, only to have my husband then make a way better move, one that I didn't see. Those moments really make me feel stupid, and can bother me more than simply losing the game (I'll sometimes even win a game and still be disappointed about a bad move I made along the way!).


My SO would tell me if he sees a better move for me (as would I), but I often have troubles with keeping in mind all diversity of possible moves and situations so if my strategy turns out to be destroyed with my partner's move or my own blindness it's hard for me to pull myself together and try to find another solution.

About playing new games - our collection is small but we have been gaming for a short period of time, so yea, we began playing smth over and over again only since participating in the 10x10 challenge. You're right, it definetely plays its role here...

Thank you very much for replying!


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ngwilliam wrote:
I have a minor success I could share:

I don't like abstracts because I suck at them. I just can't think the three and four moves ahead as is usually required by these types of games. But I'll play them because my husband likes them. We were playing Subdivisions a couple of weeks ago. In the first game I tried to play strategically and failed miserably as usual. I could feel my frustration mounting. So I told myself that what I needed to do was try to just play tactically instead of strategically. This really lessened my frustration. I still lost but wasn't in nearly as bad a mood as I normally would've been.


It's great that you could cope with the frustration! Could you please speak more on why did your decision help you? Is it about handling things that are happenning right now instead of trying to control smth that is more unpredictable (=stressful) to you?
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aelephanta wrote:
ngwilliam wrote:
I have a minor success I could share:

I don't like abstracts because I suck at them. I just can't think the three and four moves ahead as is usually required by these types of games. But I'll play them because my husband likes them. We were playing Subdivisions a couple of weeks ago. In the first game I tried to play strategically and failed miserably as usual. I could feel my frustration mounting. So I told myself that what I needed to do was try to just play tactically instead of strategically. This really lessened my frustration. I still lost but wasn't in nearly as bad a mood as I normally would've been.


It's great that you could cope with the frustration! Could you please speak more on why did your decision help you? Is it about handling things that are happenning right now instead of trying to control smth that is more unpredictable (=stressful) to you?


This reminds me of something I heard from my brother. He would play Dominion, and form this elaborate strategy for which cards to purchase so they would combo in his hand. Then, every time he drew a hand where the combo didn't happen, he got frustrated because his grand strategy wasn't working.

Then he decided to change his perspective on the game. Instead of looking only at the overall strategy, he decided to turn the game into "what is the best thing I can do with my current hand?" Then he didn't feel so frustrated, because he didn't have to face the negative factor of his strategy failing, he was facing the positive aspect of being able to do the best with what he had available. That changed his whole outlook.
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aelephanta wrote:
ngwilliam wrote:
I have a minor success I could share:

I don't like abstracts because I suck at them. I just can't think the three and four moves ahead as is usually required by these types of games. But I'll play them because my husband likes them. We were playing Subdivisions a couple of weeks ago. In the first game I tried to play strategically and failed miserably as usual. I could feel my frustration mounting. So I told myself that what I needed to do was try to just play tactically instead of strategically. This really lessened my frustration. I still lost but wasn't in nearly as bad a mood as I normally would've been.


It's great that you could cope with the frustration! Could you please speak more on why did your decision help you? Is it about handling things that are happenning right now instead of trying to control smth that is more unpredictable (=stressful) to you?


Well part of it is acknowledging my strengths and weaknesses and realizing that its not smart for me to compete using my weaknesses. By doing this, I don't end up feeling so stupid. I'll more likely feel unlucky And in this particular case, I find it interesting to see how far behind my tactics lag behind his strategy. So its more like I'm studying the game than competing. And, of couse, I don't compare myself as much to my husband, who is WAY smarter than me.
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zofia
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Thank you for your reply Tara!

ttallan wrote:
Those of you suffering from the losing dilemma, is it all the time, or only some of the time?


Hm, it's a good question. I can say that some days are better than the others but it doesn't affect me and my loser behavior dramatically. It's more about certain games and also it matters how many times we've played them before. I would feel more at ease if we try the game for the first time, the process absorbs me and I absolutely don't care if I win or not (by the way I somehow tend to win almost every first play of each game and after it begin to lose it - is it a fool's luck or something else?..). It's the state of mind I would like to keep, but my further plays are usually accompanied by anxiety.

ttallan wrote:
I tell myself that I won't feel this way forever and eventually it will pass.


I like the idea.
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Can anyone advise me about how to encourage someone who is a sore loser to separate gaming and real-life?

As a child, my mum and I played Heroquest, Battle Masters, etc. Now I'm back into gaming as an adult, I'm keen to game with my mum. The problem is that she hates losing, and admits that she sometimes won't game with me incase she loses and she feels uncomfortable in three-player games with my husband as he makes her feel stupid. She's admitted that, when I was a child, she often cheated at Monopoly so that she won. She's patently a 'closet gamer' as she's very good at games and most mums (by stereotype) raising an only child (female) don't spend rainy afternoons playing Battle Masters.

We've played:
Zombicide(which she enjoyed);
Bruges (she won with a canal strategy on first play);
Sushi Go(she lost to my husband and was unhappy);
Forbidden Island (she got bored of the coop);
Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries (she won by about 300 to 80 playing ultra-viciously to stop me completing any tickets and then refused to play again as it was a 'nasty game'. I thought 'yes, it is a nasty game if you anticipate where I'm trying to build a track and then place a single train in a position to stop me completing my ticket');
King of Tokyo (she won against my husband and gloated for ages. She really enjoyed this game).

It's obvious she's taking the games personally, but is a gamer, and I'm unsure if there's anything I can do so we can enjoy gaming together as adults.

Happy to start a separate thread if this feels like a derail, but I thought someone might have some advice from their own personal experience.
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Nat
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This really really isn't supposed to be mean so I hope it doesn't come across that way but what you said about cheating at monopoly to win against a child sounds way too deep rooted and probably can't be fixable by you unless you've got counselling experience or the like. The only thing I can suggest is to try her on more coop games. Probably better to remove the competition aspect all together.
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veemonroe wrote:
Can anyone advise me about how to encourage someone who is a sore loser to separate gaming and real-life?


I won't give any advice as I have the problem myself. And it may be deep rooted as Nat said. But just some thoughts:

As I can see, you both enjoy dice games, and it's good 'cause luck element reduces the tension. So it might be better to choose dice rolling game over TtR especially since Nordic Countries expansion is considered to be the cutthroat one. I don't know if you like CV but it could be a good try. It's light and in my experience not stressful at all, moreover, everyone has their own secret goal that makes the 'ultra-vicious' style kind of pointless.

Maybe you shouldn't completely give up on co-ops. Forbidden Island is actually quite boring for the gamer. But there are other really challenging co-ops, you know better than me (or even games with betrayal? I'm not sure that removing the competition aspect completely is a good idea since your mother definitely has both demand and potential of that).

The thing about her feeling uncomfortable with your husband - some people are sensitive about a certain tone or type of behavior (patronizing and such).

However I wish you both luck.
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Geoff Burkman
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Interesting thread. I think that once the OP self-integrates the realization that winning the game is one of the least important aspects of playing the game, she'll find it much easier to experience losing.
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I just like to play. Usually when I lose, I want to immediately play again to try out different strategies and/or things I learned while playing before. It may be my personality and not something that can be given as advice to someone else, because I've been told that I have no ambition, yet I am a perfectionist. I like figuring out how the rules work and why, and also I like to write variants and new scenarios to play.

Usually, I can't even remember whether I won or lost shortly afterwards: The play's the thing!

The only times when I can remember feeling bad or upset about losing were when one of the following happened:

-- I was taught the rules by someone else who didn't bother to teach all of them (including those needed for me to play properly) and wouldn't let me take the time to check the rulebook.

-- The game was almost totally luck based and someone (not me) got all the luck throughout the whole game (this rarely happens).

-- I was used to playing the game in a strategic way, and someone decided to play it in a gleefully cut-throat, destructive manner (this is especially bad when the person is just doing it with no thought of winning, just to spoil the game for someone else).

-- It is a solo or co-op game that is so difficult to win that I eventually give up and don't play it anymore. This leaves a bad feeling about the game, especially if the gameplay itself wasn't great fun. (Lord of the Rings: the card game and Space Hulk: Death Angel, for example). If the gameplay is fun and especially if it makes a good story, I don't mind this "we're all going to die" aspect in a game (B-17: Queen of the Skies and Dungeonquest, for example).
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veemonroe wrote:
It's obvious she's taking the games personally, but is a gamer, and I'm unsure if there's anything I can do so we can enjoy gaming together as adults.

Y'know, I think my mom was one of those, too-- a gamer who hated to lose. I only remember playing the classic stuff like Sorry and Monopoly and Chinese Checkers with her, but she got grumpy just like I do! I still feel a bit sad when I remember, a couple years back, how much I was looking forward to playing all these new board games I'd just discovered with her, but she became ill and passed away before I had the chance.

Anyway, I suspect your mom knows perfectly well she "has a problem", but like some of us posting here she can't stop herself from feeling that way in the moment. It might help just to talk to her about it, at some point when you're not gaming. Let her know how it makes you feel, that you want to enjoy gaming with her but her reactions make it difficult. But also let her know that there are plenty of other gamers trying to cope with this exact same personal issue. She's not alone!

If she agrees that her attitude is something she'd like to improve, then great. You can try suggesting some of the things that have been said here or in that other thread on being a sore loser, maybe one or two of them will help her. But if she doesn't see that there's a problem... well, then you need to decide how much it bothers you and your husband, and how often you're willing to play with her.
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Jude wrote:
Usually, I can't even remember whether I won or lost shortly afterwards: The play's the thing!


That's exactly me in my healthy moments! I wish there were more of them.

That's interesting what you've written about co-op games, Judy. As for myself, I do enjoy being on the edge in co-ops no matter if it ends with losing or winning. And I love difficult ones - as you see I'm a fan of LotR LCG and one of my favourite scenarios (and one of the best gaming experiences) is Escape from Dol Guldur which we played 10 or 11 times before we finally won. So it doesn't bother me to lose against a game at all but when it comes to people...

Thanks for your reply, you definitely have a constructive attitude.
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ttallan wrote:
veemonroe wrote:
It's obvious she's taking the games personally, but is a gamer, and I'm unsure if there's anything I can do so we can enjoy gaming together as adults.

Y'know, I think my mom was one of those, too-- a gamer who hated to lose. I only remember playing the classic stuff like Sorry and Monopoly and Chinese Checkers with her, but she got grumpy just like I do! I still feel a bit sad when I remember, a couple years back, how much I was looking forward to playing all these new board games I'd just discovered with her, but she became ill and passed away before I had the chance.

Anyway, I suspect your mom knows perfectly well she "has a problem", but like some of us posting here she can't stop herself from feeling that way in the moment. It might help just to talk to her about it, at some point when you're not gaming. Let her know how it makes you feel, that you want to enjoy gaming with her but her reactions make it difficult. But also let her know that there are plenty of other gamers trying to cope with this exact same personal issue. She's not alone!

If she agrees that her attitude is something she'd like to improve, then great. You can try suggesting some of the things that have been said here or in that other thread on being a sore loser, maybe one or two of them will help her. But if she doesn't see that there's a problem... well, then you need to decide how much it bothers you and your husband, and how often you're willing to play with her.


Thanks We've talked outside of gaming about the problem, and she says she's really competitive and a perfectionist, and - yes - she finds my husband patronising.

Unfortunately, I found CV really boring

I'll try some more complex coops with her, where she can make meaningful decisions and feels less 'uncompetitive' - thanks for the suggestion. I'll try some more dice games and games with random card draw and chaos, like Bruges as, I agree, that takes some of the 'pressure' off. I'll also try playing the same game multiple times - like me, she's bad at rules learning. I'll also remind her about the games she won, which should serve the same purpose as recording plays

I'll also let her know that there are lots of people on BGG talking about how to be a better loser so, no, she's not alone

GnatOfPower wrote:
This really really isn't supposed to be mean so I hope it doesn't come across that way but what you said about cheating at monopoly to win against a child sounds way too deep rooted and probably can't be fixable by you unless you've got counselling experience or the like. The only thing I can suggest is to try her on more coop games. Probably better to remove the competition aspect all together.


It doesn't sound mean but, genuinely, I don't like people psycho-analysing my mum based on a one-paragraph forum post. I mean, she's my mum, you know I don't think she needs counselling, I think she needs to be a better loser
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veemonroe wrote:
I don't think she needs counselling


We ALL need counseling.
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