Win when you Lose


I’m fairly new to blogging my opinion, but it seems just as I’ve finished one piece it leads on to another idea, so I thought I’d share that too. My first piece “Stop and get Board”, in which I covered how it’s not a bad idea to switch off screens for a while and sit down and play a board game together. As I was writing it I noted a point, which I thought I’d explore with you here, which is about being a good sports person.

I can already hear some of you out there moaning that board games aren’t a sport, so to clarify for my fellow pedants, this is about the art of winning when you lose.

There’s an interesting story that sums up this whole article. Some years ago I was asked by some friends to teach them a game called “Munchkin” — not a game about cute folk from the land of Oz, but a card game based in dungeons, where you need to fight monsters, stab your rivals in the back and steal the loot. The essence of the game is very light-hearted but it can get very competitive. As I was teaching my friends through playing (sometimes one of the best ways to learn new games), they steamed into the lead and began gloating about it. This didn’t faze me, which weirdly annoyed them, so I kindly (and politely) pointed out to them “that when you’ve had your son kill you in this game—yes, kill me—you really can’t get upset about it. What kind of example would you be setting‽”

At that point, it dawned on me that this might be one of the reasons why many of us leave games behind as we get older. We don’t know how to lose with honour, and lose sight of the fun of games.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not raising my son to be a megalomaniac nor do I simply roll over and die, far from it. We are both very competitive (which I think is healthy in this modern age) but I think one shouldn’t be too ‘in-your-face’ or ‘gloaty’ when one wins and certainly not flipping the board upset when one loses. It just ruins all the fun and then nobody wants to play.

So how can you win when you lose?

  • Play fair—unless the game encourages cheating (see munchkin)
  • Stay positive—it’s easier said than done, but it can have a good knock on effect to other parts of your life so worth giving it a go
  • Win with style—if you start showing off, you can expect it back ten fold when you lose
  • Go Co-op—if you think you might be TOO competitive and can’t cope with losing—not that I’m knocking that just hope you’re an Olympic athlete—then maybe try a co-operative game
  • Develop a rapport—agree with family and friends then it’s okay to be a bit smug (but not too much). I quite enjoy seeing some of my friends/family being a tiny bit smug, it’s a good vibe for them and truth be told, the funny faces that they pull make me giggle. I’m sure they—in fact I know it is—think the same with mine

Of course, these ideas are pretty straightforward and nothing revolutionary—it’s a blog after all—but sometimes the most obvious things are the hardest to see. At the end of the day it’s about having fun and enjoying time with family and friends, regardless of who wins. And that’s how you win when you lose.

Neil Barrie, father, creative director and board game designer, who’s debut game Go Dotty recently got funded on Kickstarter.