Good players make good games is a mantra that I consider to be the main guiding principle behind my play, and in the context of non videogames**, I’ll break down what this means in order to be clear. Being a good player means two things: 1. be a pleasant person to be around and game with 2. play to the best of your ability. Note that the order I listed those in is important, no gaming is better than bad gaming** and bad gaming can easily happen with people who aren’t pleasant to be around. However, point no. 1 directly leads into point no. 2, being a pleasant person to game with means that you honestly try your best.Defining good games is a bit more complicated but the simplest definition is that it is a game you enjoyed playing. The central idea here is that to an extent, bad games can be carried by good players. The key word here being extent, Monopoly is objectively a bad game, Mansions of Madness is a game that I’m not a fan of but it has a certain amount of charm that means I’m willing to play it with good players. The idea is simple but has some variance to it in practice, what makes you a good Dominion player doesn’t make you a good Rex player for example, but the basic idea is the same throughout.
When I play a game, I play to win and to have fun. These two points are somewhat interchangeable, I like winning and it can contribute to me having fun; but it isn’t a requirement. What is important that I have a chance at winning and don’t get reduced to irrelevancy or kingmaker. Yet winning in and of itself isn’t the goal, it’s the wins that you had to fight for that are the most fun and most rewarding. I could do teaching games of Twilight Struggle and keeping winning but those wins aren’t meaningful, I do it because it’s fun and it expands the playerbase. If I win against someone who is comparable in skill level at the game and tried then the win means something. As a result I find kingmaking to be tolerable and irrelevance to be horrible. Kingmaking is what makes games work but it isn’t a highlight of a game by any means. Irrelevancy I’m defining as no hope of winning and your actions in the game have minimal weight, at this point I just want the game to end as quickly as possible in order to get it over with being polite. ***
*Videogames and certain games like bananagrams can be good but there are certain physical barriers to being able to enjoy them that makes the phrase a bit more specific.
** For the record this is my second guiding principle.
***Player elimination has a similar problem here.