Friday 3 August 2012


... No! Not the Olympic ones... well, maybe, even...

This morning I had one of those mind floating moments and wondered how - or if - playing games shapes our characters, lifestyles or relationships. Or changing perspective: If I see you play, do I see how you live?

According to Wikipedia games are 'attested as early as 2600 BC, games are a universal part of human experience and present in all cultures'.

So, gaming seems to be deeply embedded into our most inner self... why then do I hate it so much? We live in a world of the biggest variety of games and I just cannot be tempted to play any of those. I think I decided at age of 6 to never play again. Oh, I did the mother and child play, mud soup cooking and those sort of things, but board games were off limits.

I am losing my temper all to easily, I get drawn into my darkest of sides, in which I am running out of control of myself. As soon as competitiveness is spurred on by others doing the same as I do, I reach that moment when it's not funny anymore. At age 6 I threw the board including the stones into the room, parts never to be found again, we suspect the dog ate them... I was told off, was horribly embarrassed about the severity of my misbehaviour and decided to just not play again. The trade-off between excitement and fun and the effort to keep myself at bay always stayed on the side of effort.

I hate losing so much, that I don't like the winning either. At age 18 I was group-forced to join a card game. I won a few rounds and felt awful assuming that the others hate losing as much as I do; it was me causing this feeling, so why should I be happy about the win.

I always wondered why games portrait a world of black and white? One is either a winner or a loser! C'mon this Olympic stereotype that it is already an honour to take part is a bit of a farce, isn't it? We want to see gold medals, nobody ever talks about the silver winner again, or only in a very pitiful way when the loss was an unfortunate circumstance.

Only a few times I was happy playing. At age 25 my father-in-law gave me a beautiful wooden box to test. A colleague of his was researching co-operative games and this one was just beautiful. One would play with a partner to finish the board. It was about strategies each player had to pursue individually, but if one would be too greedy the board would not finish and no one would win. This was my heaven. I knew such a game already; it is called 'Patience'. Quite often it is referred to as 'Solitaire' as it can be played by a single player as well. But I prefer the two player version in which co-operation is key to neatly put the cards onto their piles. I used to play this game with my grandma every Tuesday during a school break. I was about 14 and she had to gently nudge me into playing. Now those are my fondest memories with her.

I am wondering if this kind of play always was in my character, or if she played a role in forming me into this person. We all have our individual ways of tackling challenging situations, sometimes boisterously barging through, sometimes running away, and sometimes co-operating to get the best out of it for everybody. Sometimes one has to give up a little to gain a lot. Giving up is ever so often perceived as losing - I don't care! Giving up without knowing if there will be a win is risky, but it is a risk I am willing to take, anytime! The prize to be won is just too valuable!

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