I did something petty…
I’ve been getting back into Pokemon Go. I have to walk part of my journey home each day, and working in the city gives me a lot of opportunities for PokeStops, Gyms, Raids, and a constant spawning of Pokemon. As part of my lunch break I take a small walk around to some of the nearby Gyms.
Then I met Mullet Man.
I was attacking a nearby Gym before heading back to work when a man approached me and was a real wanker. He was clearly angry. He started carrying on about how his team doesn’t get to keep many Gyms because everyone keeps attacking them (which is the whole point of the game). He continued to be a rude ignorant prick for a few minutes before I decided to move on. His mullet was proof that he makes poor life choices. I didn’t want my assault to be his next one.
The next day I went for another walk. Saw him. Decided it wasn’t worth the confrontation. Went back to my desk and back to work. But I was stewing a bit. I liked my lunchtime walks. I liked getting the Gyms near my work place and getting the extra items for having Silver and Gold Gym Badges. So I made a decision.
For the better part of 3 hours after work I proceeded to take his Gym and every visible Gym his team had control of within a wide radius of my office.
I know he’ll take them back. And that’s fine. It’s all part of it. To be honest, I like my revenge to peak at about ‘mild inconvenience’. It makes me laugh and then I feel better. And at the end of the day isn’t that the whole point?
I wrote the above a few weeks ago. Then I started to think about how this situation of losing/winning and poor sportsmanship can impact the Tabletop scene.
And look, I’m not going to come out spotless on this one. I have been the sort of sore you wanna hide with concealer at various points in my gaming career. I once got stroppy because my spaceships were going to be destroyed in a totally reasonable political move in Twilight Imperium 3. And looking back I can see the 3 year old in a 25 year old’s body about to chuck his tanty. It’s embarrassing and I hate the fact it happened. But shame can be a powerful motivator for change, so here’s a few other times I’ve been a non-productive tool (I actually asked some friends to pitch in for this one, which they were more than happy to do).
- When I’ve been trying to get a deck idea to work in something like Android: Netrunner or Legend of the Five Rings and it’s just not working.
- When I’ve been playing D&D and I just wanna do cool things but I keep messing up.
- When I played games which I was super excited for and they end up being total shit and I wanted to stop playing (some of which I haven’t reviewed yet because like… I don’t want to play them).
- When I was a kid playing Monopoly and I’d be losing so I’d cheat and steal money from the bank.
- I’m actually not the sort of person you want to play Munchkin with. Because everything feels so personal with the game I have trouble separating the plays from the people. Especially when people just perceive me as a threat because I run a website. What do you mean you won’t help me? I’m not even in first place! Why are you helping them and not me?!… I think I have Post Munchkin Stress Disorder.
I thought today might be a good opportunity to think about the ways in which we can be a poor loser in games. And the reasons why those things are detrimental to the hobby as a whole.
The Table Flipper
It’s easy to think of the Table Flipper as the stereotypical nerd raging guy literally upending furniture. But when you break it down to its essential components the Table Flipper is anyone who forces the game to an end prior to an actual conclusion, without the consent of the other people at the table. Whether this is knocking pieces, tossing in their cards, or even just walking away from the table.
Why is this a problem? – Well you’re not the only person at the table, asshole.
Aside from the physical danger of components (or a literal table) going flying, other people might have been enjoying the experience. To suddenly have it cut short is rude and jarring.
The King Maker
This is a personal pet peeve of mine – yeah okay, you’re pretty convinced you can’t win. So what you’ve decided to do is to help another player come out on top. You’re still playing right? So the experience hasn’t stopped. Why is this a problem?
It has major potential to ruin the experience for everyone you’re not trying to help. Maybe two people were close and vying for victory. Well because of your actions which don’t actually benefit yourself, you’ve turned the tides and ruined what was once an exhilarating competition.
Now other players are facing off against two players on the same side and it’s no longer a mentally equal playing field.
Actually I take it back, it ruins the experience for everyone. You big jerk.
This one is something I think we all need to be more acutely aware of – The Pouter is anyone who keeps playing but makes the experience generally miserable for everyone. Whether intentional or not, they make it clear to everyone else they’re not enjoying themselves. Maybe a nicer gamer will ask if they’d like to stop – but no no, they’ll continue. But they won’t even try to enjoy themselves.
What is this a problem? Do you really need to ask?
We play games because they’re entertainment. No one is entertained by you moping about.
I’ve encountered this more as an adult than I honestly would have expected. You’d expect a child to try this one and when explained why it’s a bad thing to generally stop. But I’ve had grown men try and pull this one on people – steal resources they need when they think people aren’t looking, or even try to pass off a dodgy play as a reasonable one with an overly sarcastic tone.
Why is this a problem? – Because there’s actually no point playing the game at this point. And to be honest I won’t play with you if I catch you doing this.
I tend to find cheaters are the type of people who place no stock in the experiences of the other people at the table. They don’t actually care about the game itself, they just care about their egos and can’t stand the idea of seeming anything less than the center of attention – I haven’t done any research in the area. But in my anecdotal experience this seems to be the primary cause.
I think most of the time when it comes to games we have a tendency to think about how we’re personally experiencing it. Even when other people are laughing and having a good time with us, we’re thinking “wow I really enjoyed that” and how it made us feel when everyone was having a great time. But if we’re the only ones not enjoying the experience, the thought “well at least everyone else was having a good time” almost never crosses our minds.
Look, I’m not saying we need to be altruistic gamers. I am actually playing games because I want to have a good time. Games are meant to be fun. But not every game is going to go our way, not every game is going to be a perfect match made in geekdom. But if you do one of the above, you’re not having fun. All you’re doing is ruining other people’s enjoyment.
There are times when ending a game early is okay. But as with so much in life – communication is key. And if you see other people are having fun, try not to spoil it for them.
So much of what I’ve written about in this article can have long lasting effects outside of the one contained experience. Maybe people won’t want to play games with you anymore. Maybe they won’t want to play certain types of games anymore. And in some extreme cases, or even common cases with people exploring our hobby for the first time – you might turn them off of gaming or large parts of the gaming hobby permanently. Which helps no one.
Personally I always encourage seeing a game through. You can read my thought on this particular subject HERE.
Being a poor loser is actually really easy to do. They’re easy things to overlook. We get so caught up in the strategy we’re trying to employ or the moves we’re trying to make so we forget there’s an experience outside the one we’re trapped in inside our minds. But at the end of the day we all need to keep these things in mind. Because gaming is supposed to be fun.
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