I’m going to lay my cards on the table straight out – as well as beginning the gaming metaphors – and confirm that I was a bad loser at board games as a child. And so I stopped.
Unattracted as I was, equally, to other people being openly competitive, there wasn’t much reason to start again. Except this year, for some reason I have wanted to play board games.
I still don’t know why it should be. Perhaps it helps that some of the board games available now are more interesting than the ones I played as a child.
(I still hold a torch for Mine-A-Million, which allowed you to build up oil reserves, and ship them to the other side of the world. But what with global warming, and pirates taking over oil tankers, I don’t think that one’s going to come back into fasion.)
I’m talking about games like Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan. And I rather like Ticket to Ride, particularly the European version where I can distract others from my losing by being smug and saying “been there!” on some of the more obscure routes.
Games which are different every time, in terms of how you make up the board, keep me interested – and take the sting out of losing, or at least of not winning.
We have some friends who are good on the board game front, and introduced us to both Settlers and Mahjong, though we clearly need to build up more practice on games in between visits. But the real shift was going on holiday with our regular group of friends from church, in June, and playing board games most nights. And liking it.
When you are a child, winning and losing is a much bigger deal, and having siblings to taunt you, or parents to point out that you are a bad loser, tends to distract you from even trying to put a brave face on it.
A couple of decades down the line, and you’ve realised that there are many ways to win and lose in daily life, and so a brief stint at a board game is perhaps easier to take on.
In the case of our trip in June, it perhaps helped to be there with a very competitive friend, who you knew would win (almost) all the games anyway.
This took the actually trying to win part out of the equation, leaving you focus on banter, admiration of nice design of board game, an additional glass of wine, and so on. (Obviously, if wine had been in the equation as a child, who know how many people would have stopped being bad losers much earlier?)
But I think the real reason for it is a desire to be with people. To do something together that you can remember, but that isn’t that big and important either, so you can focus on the people too.
Perhaps the addition of a nice fire, or bad weather, or large amounts of chocolate etc, add to the picture of it being a very positive thing to stay indoors and be with people you like.
And for that, I can even risk the possibility that some competition might come into the equation.