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.