Errata: Sex > Games?
We had a great discussion last week on whether it was OK to let your spouse win when playing games. Generally, the consensus seemed to be that you play your best game. To do less is really just a way of being condescending. But, we also touched on an interesting corollary.
The question (which comes from the comments rather than my e-mail inbox) is reproduced below and the very PG-13 answer appears after the cut.
BenL asked, “As an aside or addendum to this – what if your spouse likes games, but hates losing? If the fate of my sex-life depends on the outcome of a game – I might change my opinion on the matter.”
I would say that if a spouse hates losing that much, then they don’t really like games. I know how cliché and trite this sounds, but the joy of a game should be in the playing of it, not the winning of it. Playing the game is when you can laugh with or at each other, celebrate a good roll, or mirthfully lament a bad draw. That’s where the fun should be.
If a spouse hates losing (especially if the hate is enough to deny sex to the both of you), it means that the whole goal in playing is not necessarily to have a good time during the course of the game, but merely to achieve that all important victory. I think a lot of people start playing games here. I know my wife certainly did—though Operation GamerWife has seen significant progress in this area. I’m not sure why.
Maybe it’s the ambitious achievement culture that we find ourselves in. After all, at work the goal is to make enough sales to get the biggest bonus, or in this economy, to be indispensable enough that you are one of the lucky ones to avoid a pink slip. But I think many people start gaming by thinking the goal is to prove yourself the best. And if you lose, then you weren’t the best.
In fact, I played a game of Settlers some time back with an acquaintance who won. I clapped for him, as I always do, and we talked about what a good time we had. As we started to clean up, he got up from the table. We asked him to help, but he retorted with, “only the losers clean up, I won.” I was appalled. Not only was he ungracious in his win, but he sought to penalize those who had come very close to their own victory.
The solution here is to obliterate that mentality. Cooperative games like Pandemic are great ways to avoid this. Either everyone loses or everyone wins. So there isn’t a “I have to beat you to enjoy myself” mentality. From there, you can move to games that have competition, but perhaps not directly. In Dominion (if you leave out attack cards), you are competing for your own pool of points, but don’t really harm each other. Tobago is another good one where there is little ability to attack each other and it feels more like a race to the points.
But, in the end, as much as I like games, it’s hard for me to advocate anything the gives you less …. intimate time with your spouse.
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