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Gaming is Not About Winning

I have been playing board games for a good portion of my life. I have fond memories of playing old classic games like Payday, and Husker Du with my family. Husker Du, was a great two player game that my dad would play with me. I had some very precious times with that game. I am not usually a fan of two player games, but those times with my father mean even more to me now that he passed over 20 years ago. As I grew older my brother became one of my best friends who would play board games like Bermuda Triangle and Battleship. Being the youngest of 5 boys, it always felt like I had something to prove trying not to be the whiney little brother. I always felt like if I didn’t win every game I shouldn’t be playing.

Life is a humbling teacher for sure. In my early years and throughout my adult life I have found that winning is not everything. Experiencing can be just as beneficial as winning. Yes, without a doubt, winning is fun, and winning is the goal, but play and who we play with is the bigger prize. For many years I competed in competitive games with several Decipher Customizable Card Games: Star Wars, Star Trek, and Lord of the Rings. All three of these had tournament events and a large player base. Winning was moving up and losing meant you were at the bottom of the list.

The anxiety of winning became too much for me. The fun was not there. And, if the fun was not there why was I doing it? During the height of these tournaments was when I was reintroduced to board games. Soon the fever to find and experience new games became the greater focus. Having a weekly game night with good friends and not stressing about winning every time was so refreshing. Changing my mindset, from winning to playing, has been so positive. As my family grew, and I found myself with two wonderful daughters I wanted to share games with them. They saw me playing games, and they experienced a weekly crowd of friends filling my basement each week; it was natural that they would want to play games.

My dear Mother-In-Law would play simple games like Candyland and the Game of Life with my daughters when she would watch them, and without fail, somehow, both girls would end up winning these games. Grandma was a very sweet woman who wanted the girls to always win. I had a very different approach when playing games with my daughters.

Dominion was both girls “gateway” game. This was the first, non-Parker Borther’s game that they learned to play. I spent several games explaining rules and helping them understand strategy, hoping that they would learn to see opportunities on their own. It took dozens of losses, each girl competing for second place, until it happened. Months after many defeats my youngest daughter won. The joy she expressed with pure delight; she was standing on her chair and cheering. Shortly after that my oldest daughter was winning and quickly my winning streak was gone and games have been a joy. For them and for me it was never about winning; it was about experiencing those moments. Now, as both daughters have moved out, those memories,experiences, times are very cherished to me.

My oldest still plays a lot of games online with me and both daughters stop by for at least one game on the weekend when they visit, and both of them have games in their home and play games with their significant other.

Winning isn’t everything. I do not miss tournament play; I do not miss the anxiety of losing. I look forward to game night each week because I have some very good friends, past and present, who make gaming amazing.

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