How To Enjoy The Game… Even When You Lose

By August 7, 2016 Gaming Etiquette

That’s right, at some point we’re all losers. No matter how hard we try, we are going to lose eventually. You can plan ahead, trust to luck, look for mercy from friends or family, or rely entirely on your own skills, but eventually YOU WILL LOSE. Of course, I’m talking about when we play games, but this can be taken far beyond the table and apply to any game (or even other parts of life)!

And don’t worry – I’m not going to start off by saying it’s just a game… While that may be true, it’s the most overused cliché on this particular subject, and one that drives this writer bonkers when people use it.

So why is losing such a big deal to so many people? It may be because we feel like we failed at something or because we aren’t as good as someone else. A number of people measure their value based only on their successes. This kind of thinking is like the person hiking to the top of a mountain, never taking their eyes off the goal. Eventually they may get there, but they missed the views along the way, the conversation with fellow travelers, and almost always miss the point of the journey.

So, here’s some things to practice for the next time you get your backside handed to you at the table:

Remember the journey is more important than the destination

Playing a game with friends or family is a chance to talk, laugh, joke and spend time with people we care about. When you take your eyes off the top of the mountain/winning the game and focus instead on the people you’re traveling with, you’ll find that you remember the time more than if you won or lost.

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson

Don’t blame any person or element of luck.

Everybody was playing the same game, and everybody was rolling the same dice/drawing from the same deck. While you might cite a series of 6’s rolled on the dice as the reason you weren’t able to make your strategy work, it was just as likely that you could’ve rolled the 3’s you needed. Even if fate was against you the entire night, excuses sound lame to every person listening. If you choose to blame luck as the reason you lost, either be quiet about it or start off the rant with, “Excuse me, I’m a crybaby and would like to tell you all something that only proves that…” then go on to tell everybody about the dice who had a vendetta against you.

“Accept that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.” – David Brent

Don’t be the obnoxious player during the game.

Everybody hates the guy who’s always telling people about their brilliant strategy and how everything’s going according to plan. Even worse, when you draw that card you need and clap your hands while screaming “Yes!”, it’s going to bug enough people that they don’t care who wins, as long as it’s not you. They’ll even give other players the resources and breaks they need, just to beat you. When this happens, you’ve put yourself in the position to be upset at people and blame them (see #2) or be a sore loser just to save face. Don’t do this during the game and you won’t get backed into a corner at the end.

“I think you can be smart and directed and focused, without being obnoxious, and get plenty done.” – Bill de Blasio

Leave the game at the table.

This is perhaps the most important thing of all. When the game is done and you put it away, leave it. Don’t talk about your loss (or your win), don’t be upset at someone who stabbed you in the back during the game, don’t brood or rehash how close you were, if only someone had helped you. You lost. Let it go and keep your relationships strong away from the table. This doesn’t mean you can’t throw the gauntlet down for a rematch the next time you sit down to play a game…

“I’ve had a few arguments with people, but I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you’re carrying a grudge, they’re out dancing.” – Buddy Hackett

Smile. It’s just a game.

I know I promised I wouldn’t use that phrase, but it really is true. If you’re not having fun playing games, learn to enjoy them or stop playing. Life is too short to engage in anything we hate, especially when there are plenty of things to do that we like. If games are miserable to play, stop playing them! If you only have fun when you win, go back and read #1 again. Games are meant to be challenging and cause us to think, but all that won’t matter if the you or the people you play with don’t enjoy it. Games are meant to be a way to spend time with other people – a journey to be taken together.

“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.” – Michael Jordan