Do most gamers take themselves too seriously ?

One of the reasons I like the Spiel is the sheer enthusiasm of Stephen and Dave. They clearly love games and *enjoy* playing them.

When I play against other gamers at conventions or other events (or even sometimes at home) it strikes me that many of them are just not enjoying themselves. They do not seem to be *playing* ?

At the recent UK Expo, I took part in a "Giant Settlers Game". One of the players ranted and raved throughout the game, was aggressive whenever anyone put the robber on him and constantly bemoaned the playing abilities of his fellow opponents. Where was the fun ?
Is it any wonder that many casual gamers are put off the hobby ?

So I ask the question of my fellow Spiele here at the Spiel:

"Do most gamers take themselves too seriously ?"



Here's another example. Over at the Dice Tower a while ago there was a debate over whether it was ok to let someone win.
There seemed to be a resounding "No" / "Never" / "People have to learn the hard way" etc

Confession time: I let my [9 year old] son win.
It raises his enjoyment - he wants to come back for more. He has fun.
Sometimes I play a "meta-game" with myself. Can I let him win by no more than 10vp (for example) ? Or increasingly, can I let him win without him suspecting ?
We both have fun.

Over at the Dice Tower this was considered blasphemy.
How would the child ever learn to strategise and think for himself ? To become an uber-player. Spare the rod, spoil the child.
Hey, I don't ALWAYS let him win. But I do want him to have fun.
**And I do this with casual non gamers too.**

Should I be stripped of my gaming credentials ? Lose my geek badge over at BGG ?

Are other people taking it all too seriously or am I just way off beam ?

I say look to the wider game.

We don't stop playing games when we get old...... We get old when we stop playing games

In one of my game groups, we have 1 particular member who whines and complains the entire game if they do not get their way...and this person is at least 40!

When it comes to kids, I don't think there's a problem with letting them win sometimes. You don't want them to get frustrated, of course, but there is a lesson to be learned about losing gracefully. We used to babysit a kid who would cry whenever he lost a game, but over the years he finally learned that winning is cool, but not everything. He's going to be ok :)

Fun is way way wayyyyyy more important than winning. Unless you're playing Texas Hold 'Em for $8.5 million.

I'm perfectly happy to let the wookie win in cases where someone is much younger than me and/or is not mature enough to handle losing, but I don't ever throw games to my friends, and they respect that: it MEANS something to beat me then. I'm not always the winner but I never fail to put up a fight!:) But I do have fun. I'm usually one of the ones chatting at the table and laughing over good moves and mistakes, and all that. I bring out new games and we learn them together, or teach someone an old one and chat about whatever. To me games are as much a tool to socialize as a tool to exercise the brain.

But to the question there: while in general I agree that I never let someone win, I don't see the case of your child as the same as your peers.

Everyone should have fun, but winning is relative to who you are playing against. Sure, I have let my kids win but as I want them to enjoy playing games I have too. Do I let them win all the time? No way, they have to learn that they can't be winners all the time.

Against "Adult" players, its harder. I won't loose a game but maybe I won't try as hard as I could or should. Generally on a games evening we play a number of games, and there is never any one winner throughout the night.

Just play the games.

Count Zero
Everyone listens to reason.
.......Neal Stephenson....Snowcrash

Yes, but it's not just about winning and losing. Sometimes I sit down to play against "hard core gamers" and at the end of the game I sit there wondering did they really enjoy themselves ?

I just feel that there are so many people in the hobby who have forgotten that it's about having fun.
They forget to 'play'.

I don't know. Maybe I'm having a crisis of faith :-)

We don't stop playing games when we get old...... We get old when we stop playing games

In that case, I tend to think people derive enjoyment from different places.

Now, there are people that will play 3 hour games of chess, not talking to the opponent, just sitting there quietly contemplating. Yet at the end of the game, they have indeed enjoyed themselves.

Or at CABS meetings I go to, the wargamers have their huge maps, and piles of chits...and they're just staring over their glasses, and rolling tiny dice into a tower for hours, but they are having fun. It may just not look like the kind of fun we will have in our games of Pitchcar or Cash n Guns.

I agree that some people do lose sight of the fun of a game, but I think even if it doesn't look like someone is having a good time...there is a good chance they are having fun in their own way.

Well put,

Fun can be different for different people. Luckily the guys I play against I have known for years, and grew up with. We all have a similar sense of humour and generally enjoy playing any games.

Sure, some games are liked more than others, Caylus isn't appreciated by some and I know games like cash and guns would be frowned upon by others.

I think if people play "too" much they can loose site of what the game is all about. I just have to think of some MMORPG players I know who play for hours and hours grinding away doing the same thingin there world. Thats not fun for me, but for them...... who knows.

Everyone listens to reason.
.......Neal Stephenson....Snowcrash

There is a vocal subset of the gaming community that fits your description, Steerpike, but I think that characterization does not fit most gamers.

This Nietzsche quote has stuck with me for many years (gotta put that advanced degree to use somewhere!):

"A man's maturity - consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child at play."

Children play seriously? Wha? Not serious in the sense that they take themselves too seriously (like you're saying, Steerpike) but serious in that their play is all-encompassing; they throw themselves into it; they lose and find themselves in it and through it. As an adult, this mindset, to be able to lose yourself in the game while still keeping the perspective that it is a game is a roadmap to fun. Not the same kind of fun you have as a kid, not a better kind of fun. Just a different house down the street, or at least a county nearby. This kind of "seriousness" explains how and why it can be fine to let someone win a game if it helps make the experience more fun for those involved.

There's no one monolithic singular FUN (as scooterb23 is so right to point out); it is such a tricky beast. We know it when we have it but we don't always know how we came by it. It arrives invited or not but is always welcome. It can be experienced but takes a deft hand to manufacture. It resists all but the most abstract definitions. It's almost like we have an uncanny instinctual knowledge for fun. But that instinct varies greatly from person to person. Games provide lots of different intersections and wellsprings for fun, but ask each person to define the kind of fun they derive from it and 1. you kill the fun and 2. you'll come up with a ton of different answers.

If you have fun, you've already won. That's what the game experience boils down to, to me. We take some grief over our tag line ("you don't have to play to win, you just have to play") but i am glad to defend it. In fact, I think it is our way of declaring "don't take yourself too seriously." When most people think of games, they think the majority of fun comes from winning. No silver medal for second place, boy! Competition in games is important, absolutely. But winning at the cost of fun is why so many people get turned off to games in the first place.The process of playing is so much more important than winning if you're going to get what we're up to and what the show is all about. If only the winner can have fun that leaves most people out of the loop. It sounds so touchy-feely, but win or lose, the fun from playing is there for the taking for every player in every game.

So, to sum up, don't take yourself seriously, but play like a kid, seriously!

Stephen, still hobbled, bruised and recovering from the dozen roller coasters Dave and Mark made him ride yesterday.

I agree that fun is all about perspective.

I also agree that trying to define and disect the concept of fun destroys the fun itself. It's kind of like the notion of Quantum Mechanics - the act of measuring changes the thing being measured.
(You see Stephen, your degree in Philosophy and my degree in Pure Mathematics intersect in the games space !)

I liked the Nietzsche quote - I have one from James P Carse's "Finite and Infinite Games" (subtitled "A vision of life as play and possibility", an interesting read if you've not seen it before):

He who -must- play cannot -play-. [why can't I get italics?]

He also says: "A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing play" which is kind of neat and at the heart of what you are saying.

I think we're all in violent agreement here. It just concerns me that most of the 'gamers' I come across appear to be in the vocal minority of which you speak.
Perhaps I am just mixing with the wrong crowd.

Perhaps I should take Count Zero up on his offer for a game of Battle Lore. If only because fiddling with the pieces without getting to play it is killing me !

We don't stop playing games when we get old...... We get old when we stop playing games

Where do Existentialism and Quantum mechanics come together? On a podcast about games, of course! Man, I love the internet.

The quotes you included do speak very well to the same fundamental issues, namely the game is really in the playing not the winning. I'll have to check out that book. Right up my alley, sounds like.

Don't get me wrong, I think there are many people who think winning is the chief form of enjoyment to be wrung out of a game, even at the cost of everyone else's fun. I have played with these "serious" gamers many times. It's not even that they're wrong at all. Of course, winning can be thrilling and fun. But it is far from the only way to enjoy any game. I choose to frame the discussion in a different way. I think what keeps most people coming back to games and why people continue to create new ones is that we crave novelty. Part of the fun in playing comes from the novelty of unexpected but safe experiences that can happen within the boundaries of a game. So many so-called casual gamers are often discounted for not being "serious" and I'll gladly point out that, collectively, many more people come to games for the casual fun of play than for the thrill of the kill.

Looks like everything has been said.

But just to come in with another quote: "Who plays wins - always".

Thats the way to go for me, enjoyment is in the play. "The way is the goal", not to win.
BUT: I like to compare games with sports. You should play as good as you can (unless you are playing with kids or playing a party game). Otherwise, e.g. someone is not eager to play and doesn

Every gaming group I have been in with more than a few handpicked members has had at least one of these sad, angry individuals. I've seen them in RPG groups, miniatures groups, wargaming groups, etc.

The major common trait that they had is that they needed to Get A Life. In other words, gaming was their life. They tended to be single, underemployed, sometimes quite bright. Their hobby became the focus of their life and therefore anything that didn't align with their goals and vision was subjected to criticism.

I'm not sure what the solution is. Gamers as a group are probably above average in intelligence. However, the school system in the US does a horrible job of developing and socializing bright kids and the dropout rate for gifted kids is the same as the general population. Don't know how it is in other countries.

(As an aside, though I'm a rocket scientist now, I'm 3 hours short of a BA in Sociology to go with my BA in Astronomy and EE master's.)

BTW, the absolutely worst group I've ever seen for these types was the SCA. I had some friends that were honchos in the SCA and went to some events. My wife and I came to the decision that there were too many of these annoying people in the SCA for us to join. I think we made the right decision, based on the experiences these friends had.