Friday, August 05, 2005

Er... My Turn.

When I was single, I used to skim the alt.romance Usenet group. One of the questions in their FAQ is, "Why do girls go out with jerks instead of nice guys?" One might think that this is an age-old unsolvable question, but the answer is actually quite simple and straight-forward: "nice guys" have low self-confidence. (They also don't ask girls out, assume girls don't want to go out with them, and whine and complain about life instead of doing anything about it; but let's not digress.)

You don't have to be a jerk to have self-confidence. You don't even have to believe in yourself. You just have to be willing to deal with the consequences of doing "it", whatever "it" is, knowing that, even if you fail at "it", it will not be the end of your life. Let's call this type of self-confidence "outward"; you throw something out into the world and see what happens.

Relationships with jerks often end unhappily. This is because a jerk has the self-confidence to throw things out into the world, but not enough self-confidence to take anything from the world back in. Let's call this type of self-confidence "inward".

For "inward" self-confidence, you need a characteristic that in Hebrew is called "tzniyut", and is usually translated as "modesty" or "humility". I'm not talking about modesty regarding clothing, nor am I talking about self-effacement. I'm talking about letting down your defensive attitude and opening yourself up to learn, and possibly to change, based on what you encounter in the outside world.

This is relevant here for two reasons.

1) Games can teach us both of these qualities.

Games, particularly strategy board and card games, can give us self-confidence. When you try things in a game, you may succeed and you may and fail. What are the consequences?

How do you handle that possibility of failure? Sometimes you have to just finish the game knowing you can't win ... and that's ok. Sometimes you can come back from failure in that game. Sometimes you can come back from failure by winning the next game.

And sometimes, in some games, you just win. How about that?

In any case, I really believe that the game isn't won or lost by winning or losing inside the game; it is won or lost by how you handle it - ideally, with grace. This includes learning from what others did, accepting what was under your control and what wasn't, and trying again with the belief that you can improve. Above all, respecting that your opponent is doing the same.

Frankly, I can't remember who won or lost over the last several years of game playing in my group, except the occasional anomalous winning streaks. But I can remember every time someone didn't have a good time.

You can translate the lessons learned from playing games to the rest of your life. As proof of this ...

2) What am I doing here?

The reason I'm here is because I asked myself, "What is the worst that could happen if I wrote a blog and no one cares? Or worse, if I offend someone?" I'll lose my Geek buddies. I'll start from scratch with no reputation. Oh, well. So, I put myself out there and I wrote. What do you know? After a few months, I had a few regular readers, mostly other blog writers, one of whom asked me to join this group.

Some of that self-confidence came from my game playing: not being the center of attention and learning to win and lose gracefully. Perseverance I gained from creating my own dungeons, games, and game variants, and organizing and holding together a game group in an area of the world that has few gamers. (Of course, I also learned many lessons from my family and friends, my education, my job, and my religion.)

So I haven't yet produced anything brilliant to be excessively proud of - no award winning games, no oft-quoted articles. So what? I don't have access to the latest games, so no big game reviews. I don't have the money to go to conventions (although there's a small chance I might make it to BGG.con), so no convention reports, no latest news, no fancy game publisher interviews.

What do I write about? My group session reports and game variants, which go on my main site. My daily gaming journal, including struggles with game design, which goes on my main blog. My ethics and gaming series, which goes to The Games Journal.

Gives me something to do rather than lie awake in my room wondering why girls won't go out with me and complaining about life.

So what does that leave for me to write about here? I think I'll start with a story.

It's about a girl.

A very different sort of girl, named Sarah.

See you in 168 (actually, in 96),


Coldfoot said...

A wonderful beginning, Yehuda. It's a great look at games, people and life in general.

Dame Koldfoot said...

Ahhh, the meaning of life explained in a board game. How could Monty Python have gotten it wrong? Well done, Yehuda.

Melissa said...

Frankly, I can't remember who won or lost over the last several years of game playing in my group, except the occasional anomalous winning streaks. But I can remember every time someone didn't have a good time.

The gaming's fun, but the hub of it is the social contact with like-minded people. Thanks, Yehuda.

DWTripp said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Yehuda Berlinger said...

dw: I assume that comment was meant for Joe!

Everone else: thanks for the kind words.


DWTripp said...

It's true, I was going to leave you a comment about girls and gaming and I put Alex's comment here. But now I think I'll just bide my time for the next installment. Nice intro Yehuda.