Condescending Competition

A little known fact about me, I love to play games!  Board games, card games, video games, dice games.  You name, I probably like to play it.  Please note that I do NOT gamble!

With that being said, I have noticed that playing games of this nature tends to be…competitive.  My mom and I always used to play Scrabble.  We even bought the official Scrabble dictionary to make sure that we couldn’t cheat.  I enjoyed every game that I played with her.  It wasn’t about winning, it was about spending time together and trying to improve.

One of my ex-boyfriends got me interested in the famous Magic:  The Gathering card game.  I enjoyed the strategy involved.  At the time, my boyfriend had been very patient when showing me how to play and explaining all of the numerous rules.  When we played, I always learned something new.  I remade my decks based on what I saw worked for him (and sometimes, he copied me!).

That is when one of our friends suggested a “friendly” tournament.  I should have known better.  We showed up with our decks ready for fun.  What we got was the following:  *Bob played a card that gave him protection from every color (red, black, blue, white and green) in the deck.  This meant that none of our creatures, no matter the color, could attack him.  So, we asked ourselves, what was the point in “playing” with him?  We didn’t get to do anything except keep drawing cards, hoping for a miracle while he destroyed us in about 10 minutes.

I came up with an expression:  “Are you playing to win or playing to play?”  What I mean is, are you playing because you HAVE to win at all costs, or are you playing because you simply enjoy the game and want to spend time with your friends and family?

Another gaming fad that another boyfriend (now my husband) had gotten me into was Pirates.  The game involves building these tiny plastic ships.  Each ship has its own set of special abilities.  You are only allowed to move so far based on the plastic cards that come with the ship.  I can’t tell you how much money we wasted on them in our younger years.  I remember that we bought out an entire Game Stop store once.  What dorks!

An idea was hatched that we would have a super Pirates tournament at Matt’s house and invite a set of my friends and a set of his friends.  We thought that it would be this amazing party-type atmosphere with music and food, and fun!  We had the music.  The food was delicious.  What we didn’t have?  A straight jacket for Matt’s one “friend.”

This guy literally HAS to win whatever game you are playing or he becomes violent.  Seriously.  Wouldn’t you know it, I actually managed to hold my own.  Soon, it was me, Matt and his friend.  Not good.  The trash talking then began.  Soon, the friend went after me and my ships, laughing maniacally every time one was destroyed.  I found that I was glad to have been taken out of the game.  Matt used his ghost ship and in a few swift moves, decimated his friend.

That is when all heck broke loose.  This guy started yelling that it “wasn’t fair” and that the ship Matt used was “cheap.”  He then began to throw his ships back into a box and stomp off.  Matt and I were mortified.  My friends saw this (including Bob from the Magic fandango) and just said, “Wow.”

I will never understand people like this!  Why is winning so important?  It’s not like we were playing for money.  You can’t put “Pirates Champion” on your resume.  So, why get so wrapped up about losing?  This guy came in 2nd place out of 5 people.  I’d say that’s an accomplishment.

Perhaps, this is just a strange phenomenon with the male population.  I could go all Freud and say that the person is trying to fill a void and that he has “issues” with not being good enough.  Come on!  This reminds me of the way that kids pout when they lose at Tag or Red Rover.  Get over it!

My eyes were truly opened when I saw the competitive beast come out in my fiance.  He and his friends were obsessed with the Lord of the Rings card game.  I could not get into it, no matter how hard I tried.  We were attempting to have a date and his friends were upstairs playing the game.  Soon, they came in begging Matt to play.  He kept refusing saying that he gave that up.  I wondered why he was acting so strangely.  So, I encouraged him to play.

Finally, he agreed.  That’s when it happened.  My kind, caring, sweet, gentle fiance turned into a complete jerk.  He began trash talking (which I had never heard him do before).  He began playing cards similar to what Bob had done with Magic.  While he won the game, he lost a lot of my respect that night.  “What happened to you?” I asked as he was smiling smugly, enjoying his victory.  “What do you mean?  I won.”  “Yes,” I replied, “and you were a jerk to your friends.”  It took a minute for it to sink in before he quietly said, “I told you I didn’t want to play.”

Thankfully, I thought after we had gotten married that he would grow out of it.  Not!  Mario Kart for the Wii cannot be played if he is at home.  He is the guy that continues to hit your kart until you go spinning out of control onto the shoulder.  All I wanted was a chance to race.  Not necessarily to beat him, but the computer opponents.  Then there’s Mario Party.  Same thing.  He will use every cheat and shortcut that he can think of to win.

Why, men?  I just do not understand your insane desire to win, even if it means hurting those you love and care about.  Don’t get me wrong, I am all for some light ribbing, but I want the games to be what they were intended to be:  FUN!

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