Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hooked on victory?

I got a big jolt of dopamine - and whatever other euphoric chemicals my brain rewards me with - when I won the readers' game of Euphrat & Tigris the other week. And when I lost the next one by a similarly impressive margin I received an equivalent dose of dysphoria. (See how I'm thinking neuroscience these days? That's what 2 months of solid revision has done to me.) I can't deny that the big win (13/5/4/4!) was an especially memorable and pleasurable gaming experience, whereas the loss left me slightly grumpy and less motivated to play again. So I was wondering how important winning is to my enjoyment of the hobby. If I never win another game, will I continue gaming? I like to think that I'm a fair-minded opponent who gets most of his enjoyment from the playing not the winning - but how long would I last without an occasional dose of victory to keep me interested? We've all met people who take this too far - gamers for whom winning seems to be their only motivation for playing, and who are prepared to be very unpleasant opponents in order to get what they crave - but I'm not sure that I'm high-minded enough to do without the occasional win myself.


Anonymous said...

I would lose interest if I lost too often. I went off Chess completely after being destroyed so many times as a boy.

Marty said...

Well Peter, you strike me as a good winner as well as a good loser. Like yourself, I like to think that I enjoy the game rather than just the winning, and I can certainly live with defeat in a boardgame.

If I didn't win even the occasional game, however, I suspect it would get tiresome.

I'm sure your forthcoming victory over me in Twilight Struggle will boost your morale.

Phil said...

As a perennial loser of boardgames I can tell you that it's still fun to play, so long as the people you're playing with don't take it a million times more seriously than you. If you're sitting there not caring whether you win or lose then there's nothing worse than your opponent taking all day trying to outwit you because they would rather day than not come out on top.

Phil said...

That should say "rather die", not "rather day"