I wish I were inspired more often to talk about play philosophy. Well, let’s see if I can do something with Scorpio.
There are, of course, many common features of different gaming types. While RPGs are typically very different from competitive gaming since typically they aren’t competitive, my hope is to have something to say that isn’t overly specific. Below are the same traits I included in my other Scorpio post. I’m going to talk about how they fit into competitive gaming based on my experiences.
Outside of the actual play of the game, loyalty is hugely important for keeping niche games (most of the CCGs I’ve played regularly, for instance) alive. But, what about in play? In two-player games, no real concept. But, what about political games: multiplayer CCGs, many boardgames, etc.? While there’s certainly the capability of generating a reputation for trustworthiness and for being supportive to a cause, I’ve never found that it really mattered. I’ve changed my stances frequently when circumstances altered, far more so in boardgames than in something like V:TES, as there’s really nothing else to do in most boardgames than try to win whereas CCGs have interesting card interaction to give someone something to do.
How does willpower differ from self-control? Maybe a bit broader, covering aspects of controlling things beyond oneself, but it’s simpler to lump them together. Another difference I find between boardgames and CCGs is that players of boardgames seem much better at controlling themselves and at not doing crazy or self-destructive stuff. Maybe it’s because boardgames are simpler and less personal. It’s amazing how often players of CCGs snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (or, at least, competitiveness) because of lack of self-control. Too greedy, too spiteful, too impatient, whatever.
Actually a trait useful for two-player gaming as you might get cut some slack. But, really more of a multiplayer thing. Magnetism is huge for manipulating people into improving your position or undermining someone else’s. Can have the most logical arguments, but the people who get listened to are more likely to be the ones with more charisma.
I still find this so weird to be included since it’s pretty opposite to ruthlessness. Well, whatever. Occasionally, I see gentleness paying off as people rather lose to someone nice than someone who isn’t. And, it’s an interesting approach in multiplayer play. I’m incredibly gentle to my opponents in V:TES, except those rare instances when I whip out a deck of extreme prejudice in which the goal is more to nuke things with overkill than win, and it works okay for me. The appearance of gentleness is certainly desirable, nice mix with actual but subtle ruthlessness.
Perceptiveness is hugely important. Insight, I take to mean self-perception. Certainly a good counter to losing self-control since you will realize you are losing it. Frequently, the mind isn’t perfectly focused on the game and being able to realize that can save some grief.
Ruthlessness is awesome for winning. It’s something I lack. I said in my Eden Storyline post that the lack of interest in winning will keep me from ever being a great player of competitive games. It’s the ruthlessness needed in things like optimal deck construction, ruining other people’s chances in games, and the like that comes out of a desire to win just to win that is missing. I actually don’t have a problem with ruthless play, per se. It’s possible to be ruthless without being obnoxious. On the other hand, I don’t take my gaming seriously enough to be in favor of it and there’s little point in being ruthless unless players are of similar level.
Fanaticism about wanting to play a game is often great for me since I need opponents. Fanaticism within a game is very likely to turn people off and reduce one’s chances of winning. “Why are you doing that? It’s what my deck does. Your deck … loses?”
Revenge is interesting because there’s such a wide spectrum. There are many multiplayer games where revenge is necessary to balance the game. Even personal revenge I can relate to – if someone screwed up my game through bad play, then I understand screwing up that player’s game as I lose. (One of the advantages of two-player gaming is you don’t get spite moves that affect the results of the game.) But, there are obvious limits. The point to competitive games is to try to win them. When players cease trying to win, the game becomes pointless. Also, sometimes players screw you because that’s the correct play in the game.
I find lots of players to be sadistic. Whether it’s enjoying playing prison decks in Magic, playing unrest decks in B5, cutting off people’s ability to expand in Settlers of Catan who are way behind, or whatever. Lots of folks seem to enjoy inflicting pain upon their opponents. Gaming can be an outlet for that that is less worse than other things (e.g. pranks). But, it’s not conducive to my enjoying games.
Suspicion is what makes games like Diplomacy. I happen to hate Diplomacy, but that’s pretty much neither here nor there. Some level of suspicion is good as deceiving people is an important element in many games. Excessive suspicion can backfire as you start believing something that isn’t the case.
Fundamental to life is self-hatred. Without it, why bother getting up in the morning? So, of course, it’s essential to good gaming. Only by self-hating myself throughout games do I ever enjoy myself and have any chance of competing.