Sunday, September 8, 2013

Narcissism and competition

A lot of you are going to go out and going to research game theory and how to be "better". Chances are you find page 5 of the mark 1 books and latch on to that idea. I can only hope for a little while.
In your reading you will undoubtedly run into Sirlin.net. You might as well read Tucker Max. Both leave a sort of indelible stain on your view of people and of gaming in general. To say I don't support the context of their writing is generous. Sirlin doesn't care (I'm a scrub) and Tucker... his theory says he can sod off anyway.
Lets go over some of their major points:

If its in the rules it's perfectly OK.
There's a difference between the method and the goal. The rules are the method with in which we operate; the goal is victory. Using the rules to our advantage is therefore not only expected it is necessary.  There are no legal actions that are inappropriate and meta behavior is fair game.

     Bobby Fischer had a problem with this and got his own musical. McEnroe, Rodman... all famous for bizarre activities and a temper tantrums that brought a different element to their competition - the mental meta game. Sirlin's theory  argues that this is "up to you" while reinforcing it as valid behavior discussing a person's "fear aura".
     By mentioning intimidation as a valid tactic and reinforcing it as not expressly forbidden in the game or the tournament it has been tacitly approved.  I argue this demonstrates a lack of confidence in one's own ability.

We make our own victory and sabotage it in our associations.
Winning is as much a state of mind as it is behavior. Associate with people of a different mindset and you will be compromised by their mindset. Like must therefore associate with like.

     Utter bollocks. While studies do show the people reflect the values of the five people they most associated with - a diverse group consistently demonstrated greater prosperity and trended towards higher education. Correlation is not causation but this does suggest having a mix of points of view is a more successful strategy.
     A sense of community and respect presents a better opportunity for growth. Not only do the less skilled players become better but the average skill set trends upwards.  This is why people attend things like Toastmasters. If one really wants to improve their skill teaching is a very valid option. ( see also:  how to get to Broadway)

The teacher and the slaughterer
The top skill set in a field has two options: operate at maximum capacity until they are consistently defeated or uplift the skill set of those around them.

      There is no option. Slaughterer trains the local game to adapt to the slaughterer. The teacher grants an opportunity to continue growth.  I prefer the metaphor of the farmer and the wolf: the farmer grows and nurtures an area while the wolf hunts until its driven off or killed. The farmer can have good and bad seasons but the wolf drives away competition.
     This means the Slaughterer actively poisons the community. To develop and grow an event an incentive has to exist for newcomers to participate.  Constant defeat at the hands of more skilled players drives newcomers out and reduces the pool less skilled have to practice against.  

     What bothers me most is that you're going to read this diatribe of abusive asshattery (yes, we still cite our sources!) and think "this guy has it right!".  He codified two tropes that can reconcile with the concept that Competitive Play and Casual Play are both valid, and must not attempt to dictate to each other.
       This is not entirely true either. One thing we continue to lose track of his that this is "play". That player with a limited budget for playing, and that player who's trying to use less efficient tools to learn these tools better certainly isn't a scrub. They're playing. Tournament events like "who's the boss?" (Randomize warlock/caster) or Highlander (there can be only one...of anything) is inherently play.

But where am I really going with this?
- if you are not having fun in this game and your opponent is not having some degree of fun you need to stop. If you can't be courteous because you must crush your opponent please leave. if you can't be supportive and help people learn please go find another game.

" How sad to see a model of decorum and civility become a battleground for rival ideologies to slug it out with glee" ( Chess. Go watch a musical. Get some culture.)

Try to remember that once the clock starts you might be oponents, but there was a before and is an after. Shake hands, congratulate the winner, and go see what's happening on that for table. The person you just played might have an interesting perspective.

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