I don’t know if people who read this realize how much I follow sports.  I don’t watch much in the way of sports because the actual events themselves aren’t nearly as interesting when you lack a rooting interest.

Kiseki.  That’s what my pocket Japanese dictionary and Google translating have for “miracle”.  Miracle On Ice, considered the greatest team sporting event in US history …  Congratulations to the Japanese women’s football team.  I don’t know enough Japanese history to be able to say that this was the greatest team result in Japanese sports history, but how is it less impressive than our greatest moment?

Never won in group play, I heard.  Beat two time defending champion and host nation, something that matters quite a bit in World Cup history, if more so on the men’s side.  Beat the team that beat the number one team in the world.  Didn’t just beat the number one team in the world that they had lost 22 of 25 times previously to, the number one team from a nation looking for a record third (women’s) World Cup, but in an epic game where they looked horribly outclassed and had to play catch up, including with about 5 minutes left in overtime.

The sports talking heads that I watch all of the time from Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption almost entirely are focused on the US choking.  So, the Soviets choked?  I don’t recall that being part of the mythology of the Miracle On Ice.  There are those who note that the Japanese story is the more American story than if the US had won.  I’m just amazed that anyone would think otherwise.

As for the US team, they lost.  I would have liked to see the team win.  But, once the finals were set, there was the compelling story for us and there was the compelling story for the world.  What made the result great wasn’t that the better script won, it was that the final game, itself, had a compelling script.  A bad game, like a 3-0 blowout or whatever, would have cheapened the result, whoever won.  That was a fantastic sports match, full of drama.  I wish I hadn’t missed some of the earlier matches.

Because I love World Cup.  Have next to no tolerance for soccer, otherwise.  It’s not about the quality of play – I don’t care about Man. U. vs. Arsenal or Man. U. vs. Barcelona or whatever because there’s no context for me and no particular reason to root for anything.  Give me Cameroon vs. Poland or Paraguay vs. Portugal.

Anyway, I just couldn’t stand how much focus was on how we didn’t win when it was great theater and one of the great results in sports history.

Now, what does this have to do with gaming?  Well, sports and games are pretty similar.  But, let’s take some actual features of what happened with World Cup play and relate them to personal gaming experiences.

As much as I don’t want to talk about the US choking, choking is actually a very interesting topic.  There is a Cracked article,, that talks about choking, but I don’t see in that article a comment I recall about how professionals actually choke more often and worse.  Another part of this other article, which I think was another Cracked article, talked about how singing or whistling or whatever that stops you from thinking helps prevent choking, since it’s consciously thinking about how to do something that screws us up.

I’ve made some bad mistakes in competitive CCG play.  I have a tendency to overthink things in pressure situations and go for unusual plays in the name of cleverness, but is this the same as choking?  I could believe that the same tricks to take one’s mind off of the pressure situation could very well work, whether the natures of the two situations are that similar.

While I could talk about good scripts and bad scripts when it comes to RPGs, I’m more of the mind to speak to scripts and competitive play.  When I envision myself playing in CCG tournaments, of course I think about winning.  But, I don’t think about dominating.  I think about ridiculous plays that blow people’s minds.  I don’t enjoy winning in and of itself, I need the appealing storyline to have winning be enjoyable.  It’s why I have such little interest in playing decks known to be good.  What’s the story to tell about winning with Malk94, Ventrue Lawfirm, AAA, …, even weenie Potence?  It’s not entirely about being completing the underdog story, for me.  The intellectual challenges of doing things differently are some part of the motivation to do things differently.  Still, I can’t stand easy wins.  This is something that also applies to RPGs where I’d rather not even bother fighting an easy combat.  Well, the RPG is all about the story, after all.


2 Responses to Credit

  1. Andrew Haas says:

    To address your question about what is choking in a competitive CCG environment, I would say its choking if you fail to do what should normally be easy or automatic for you. Suddening the wrong Master out of twenty played by a Girls deck to most effectively slow it down is not choking. Forgetting to play an Archon in your hand is choking, bleeding irresponsibly and dooming your grand-prey is choking, forgetting to recurse the necessary cards for your deck with Ashur Tablets is choking.

    I too share your desire to win with something novel though not necessarily something bad per say. Proving that something which is widely regarded as bad, is in fact bad, doesn’t have any particular attraction to me. Showing that something heretofore largely unnoticed is good, and taking the road less traveled has much more attraction to me.

    As for the overwhelming ‘glass-is-half-empty’ narrative, I suspect that it is due to watching American broadcasts rather than Japanese.

  2. iclee says:

    Not every mistake is a choke. Mistakes get made. Choking would seem to have to do with making mistakes due to pressure, rather than making mistakes because of overlooking something, being reckless, or whatever.

    Though, perceptionwise, it has a lot to do with the sequence of results. For instance, you may make mistakes due to pressure, but you can’t choke from behind. You can only choke from ahead. In particular, you should be far ahead, which was never the case in the World Cup finals. That the US wasn’t far ahead after the first half was a major criticism of their effort, but by the definition that you can only choke from ahead, not getting ahead isn’t choking – it’s simply not succeeding.

    One of the things about mistakes is that they are necessary. If no one ever made mistakes, then there would be no difference in skill. The number of mistakes made (possibly even more so than the value of those mistakes) is what determines skill level. Let’s say you get a flukish advantage against a better opponent and end up losing. If you give back the advantage early enough, it won’t appear to be choking, just getting beat by a superior opponent; but, if you hold on to the advantage until the very end and then lose, it appears to be choking.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: