Monday, February 20, 2006

50 steps to a healthy gaming life

Inspired by this post by Better Me, I decided to make a checklist for healthy board gaming ...

By a "healthy gaming life", I don't mean just "a healthy life", or a "gaming life", but a synergy of both. Therefore, a certain amount of obsession is implied. A life full of gaming that is also still healthy. If this is not your intent, then the list doesn't apply to you. See the comments for more details.

Your stuff:
  • I am aware of all of the games that I own.
  • I have played all of the games that I own.
  • I don't own any games that I have no realistic plan on playing in the future. I don't own any games just for nostalgia. All of my games are fun to play, right now.
  • I own or have easy access to all of the games that I like to play.
  • My games are kept in a safe and dry location, in an organized manner.
  • All of my games have all of their pieces. None of the cards or pieces are marked or broken.
  • All of the components to my games are in their right location, and are not mixed with other games or under the couch.
  • All items in my games work properly, such as spinners or towers.
  • All of the boxes to my games are intact and sturdy.
  • All of my games contain rules in my native language or a language I can read easily.
  • I do not play with games if the parts were acquired by means of copyright violations.
  • I put away one game before taking out another, unless many people are over and playing simultaneously, or unless I have a designated area to store a long game such as a monster war-game.
  • My game collection is not obtrusive, and does not interfere with the functions of the house or the room in which they are stored.
  • I have a well-lit, uncluttered, and healthy place to play games. This place has access to fresh air, natural light, and a bathroom with a sink.
  • I have enough chairs for all players, and these chairs are comfortable.
Your self:
  • I don't overindulge in caffeine or sugar.
  • I exercise a few times every week and I don't watch much television.
  • Games do not take up more than 1/3 of my waking hours, unless I am involved with them professionally.
  • I read or write general articles about tech, math, or game strategy, as well as about games that I play.
  • I can effectively teach all games that I play.
  • I make a reasonable effort to win games while I'm playing them. If I'm playing with children or sensitive people, I still try to win, but I give advise to help them as well.
  • I really don't mind losing, since I find the game enjoyable for the experience.
  • I am a good winner, because I don't think that any of my opponent's are inherently incapable of doing whatever I did to win; it just clicked. I make other people feel good about specific plays that they did after the game, or I point out how the loss wasn't really under their control due to some random event, when appropriate. And I mean it.
  • I never cheat, and if I gain inadvertent information, I either don't use it or I disclose the fact to my opponents.
  • I never play with an agenda in mind. I don't try to humiliate my opponents. I don't carry grudges. I play for the shared enjoyable experience with my opponents, aware that both/all of us have to work together to achieve it.
  • I don't whine or use other means of coercion during game play.
  • I do not argue about rules during the game. I assume a ruling is unfavorable to my position before asking a question about rules.
  • I assume that actions are not permitted unless otherwise specified.
  • I do not favor an opponent when I can't win. I have a kingmaking code to which I follow in this situation (pick one or more:play for placing; play for max points; play for min point differential with leader; play for sub-goal; try a wild strategy that has at least some possibility of success; passively try not to affect the outcome and wait for the next game).
  • I play reasonably quickly, think only as long as acceptable given the spirit of the game, and do not hurry others to make their moves.
  • I maintain a record of my games and seek to improve my play in these games.
  • I am open to playing both games that I have already played and new games.
You and others:
  • I share my love for boardgaming with other people.
  • I play with my spouse or significant other.
  • I play with my children or parents.
  • At least some of my friends play games with me.
  • I do not use games as an excuse to cause distance between me and anyone else.
  • I do not play or suggest playing games when it will cause a fight of any sort.
  • I belong to and regularly attend a weekly game group.
  • I contribute to the game group more than just my attendance, such as organization, snacks, games, recording sessions, and/or cleaning up.
  • I ensure that all players feel welcome where I play, and I don't only talk to my close friends.
  • I give minimal strategy advice to new players, and otherwise only when asked. I never give misleading advice.
  • I politely decline to play games in which I am not interested.
  • I politely request to play games in which I am interested, unless I already know that other players don't want to play them.
  • I do not quit games in which I am losing, except for two player games where I politely offer to resign, but will continue if I think my opponent doesn't want me to.
  • I do not request takebacks that annoy other people. I let others take back their moves whenever possible so as to ensure they continue to enjoy the game.
  • I maintain a clean and healthy body and ensure that other players are not offended by my personal grooming or manners.
  • I am equally respectful to all people at a club, regardless of sex, race, age, or physical disability.
  • I prefer not to play than to get into an argument.
  • I do not gossip about other players or ridicule moves made by other people, even when they are not present.
Your initial score:

Score yourself again in two months and every six months.

Happy Gaming,
Yehuda

5 comments:

Matthew Gray said...

Nice post, but I have to take exception to a bunch of your items:

I don't own any games that I have no realistic plan on playing in the future. I don't own any games just for nostalgia. All of my games are fun to play, right now.

Oh, come on. What's wrong with owning games for nostalgia? I own very few "nostalgia" games, but don't see any harm if someone does. The point of games is primarily to have fun, and owning a game that has fun memories associated with it seems like a good thing, or at worst a harmless indulgence.

My game collection is either not obtrusive or not within obvious view, and does not interfere with the functions of the house or the room in which they are stored.

I'l agree with the "does not interfere" part, but "not within obvious view"? I've been in homes with prominently and obviously displayed collections of all sorts, ranging from Barbies to other dolls, to books to games. This seems perfectly healthy.

I can effectively teach all games that I play.

I know a number of very pleasant gamers who simply lack the ability to explain rules well. While they might strive to do better, I don't see it as unhealthy that it is a weakness of theirs.

I don't whine or use other means of coercion during game play.

There are a lot of gaming groups in which good-natured (but definitely coercive) whining is a substantial part of the social enjoyment of the game. In fact, some games, like TransAmerica even officially state in the rules (German rules) that there is an official whining phase of the game. Excessive whining is one thing, but really, I'm not winning, he is.

I maintain a record of my games and seek to improve my play in these games.

Wow, as an obsessive record taker (6+ years), I'm not sure I'd put this on the checklist for "healthy". Certainly lack of record keeping doesn't seem unhealthy. Further, I know a number of people who have no interest in improving their play. They play the game for fun, and winning or losing is so immaterial that trying to "improve" is irrelevant. Personally, I like improving at some games, but others I don't care and it might detract from the fun. For example, I bet if I put my mind to it I could improve my play at Apples to Apples, but in the end I think such an effort may actually detract from the game and I don't believe it would add anything.

* I play with my spouse or significant other.
* I play with my children or parents.


Add: "I do not inflict my hobby on others who do not enjoy it."

I belong to and regularly attend a weekly game group.

Over the years I've variously been part of weekly groups, monthly groups, multiple groups and no groups. I don't see being part of a weekly group as an absolute requisite though. Certainly nice, but not so much a "healthy gaming" issue.

100%Blade said...

"Games do not take up more than 1/3 of my waking hours, unless I am involved with them professionally"

For easy maths let's say waking hours is 15 hours a day. That means that that games should not take up more than 5 hours a day. Wow. I wish. If I got anywhere close to averaging 5 hours a day then I'd be out on my ear quicker than anything. Quite right too. I'd say that 5 hours every day for a hobby is becoming obsessive

Yehuda said...

I guess I should explain what I mean by a "healthy gaming life."

I don't mean by it "a healthy life", or a "gaming life", but a synergy of both.

Therefore, a certain amount of obsession is implied. A life full of gaming that is also still healthy.

If this is not your intent, then the list doesn't apply to you.

So....

I don't own any games that I have no realistic plan on playing in the future. I don't own any games just for nostalgia. All of my games are fun to play, right now.

Oh, come on. What's wrong with owning games for nostalgia? I own very few "nostalgia" games, but don't see any harm if someone does. The point of games is primarily to have fun, and owning a game that has fun memories associated with it seems like a good thing, or at worst a harmless indulgence.


Fair enough. I would take those out of my game collection and put them on a stand with a spotlight shining on them, however.

I just mean that you shouldn't keep hordes of games because you once liked to play them.

My game collection is either not obtrusive or not within obvious view, and does not interfere with the functions of the house or the room in which they are stored.

I'l agree with the "does not interfere" part, but "not within obvious view"? I've been in homes with prominently and obviously displayed collections of all sorts, ranging from Barbies to other dolls, to books to games. This seems perfectly healthy.


Your point again.

I can effectively teach all games that I play.

I know a number of very pleasant gamers who simply lack the ability to explain rules well. While they might strive to do better, I don't see it as unhealthy that it is a weakness of theirs.


They may be healthy, but they haven't achieved a healthy gaming life, yet, in my opinion. It's a skill they should work on.

I don't whine or use other means of coercion during game play.

There are a lot of gaming groups in which good-natured (but definitely coercive) whining is a substantial part of the social enjoyment of the game. In fact, some games, like TransAmerica even officially state in the rules (German rules) that there is an official whining phase of the game. Excessive whining is one thing, but really, I'm not winning, he is.


Games that include whining in the rules are exempted on a probational basis. It is better to practice good habits even in these games.

I maintain a record of my games and seek to improve my play in these games.

Wow, as an obsessive record taker (6+ years), I'm not sure I'd put this on the checklist for "healthy". Certainly lack of record keeping doesn't seem unhealthy. Further, I know a number of people who have no interest in improving their play. They play the game for fun, and winning or losing is so immaterial that trying to "improve" is irrelevant. Personally, I like improving at some games, but others I don't care and it might detract from the fun. For example, I bet if I put my mind to it I could improve my play at Apples to Apples, but in the end I think such an effort may actually detract from the game and I don't believe it would add anything.


You could stay healthy not improving in your games, but you wouldn't be improving in what I am talking about.

I agree with your point that too much record keeping can become unhealthy, but likely that is because you will violate the rule about spending too much of your day playing with games.

* I play with my spouse or significant other.
* I play with my children or parents.


Add: "I do not inflict my hobby on others who do not enjoy it."


Ah, but if you are not playing with your spouse and kids, you can't really have a completely healthy gaming life. You should work on it, without causing strife, as I mention later on.

You don't have to play "hobby" games with them, just games.

I belong to and regularly attend a weekly game group.

Over the years I've variously been part of weekly groups, monthly groups, multiple groups and no groups. I don't see being part of a weekly group as an absolute requisite though. Certainly nice, but not so much a "healthy gaming" issue.


For robust and healthy gaming, you need a weekly group. Sporadic gaming experiences might be part of a healthy life, but not a healthy and robust gaming life.

Sheesh. If you can't trust some guy on a blog telling you how to live your life, who can you trust?

Yehuda

Yehuda said...

"Games do not take up more than 1/3 of my waking hours, unless I am involved with them professionally"

For easy maths let's say waking hours is 15 hours a day. That means that that games should not take up more than 5 hours a day. Wow. I wish. If I got anywhere close to averaging 5 hours a day then I'd be out on my ear quicker than anything. Quite right too. I'd say that 5 hours every day for a hobby is becoming obsessive


I think a number of people would consider it a real achievement to cut down to only five hours thinking about/playing/writing about games.

You are welcome to adjust this value, but it should be no less than one hour a day, or you'll be kicked out of the club.

Yehuda

Alfred said...

"Sheesh. If you can't trust some guy on a blog telling you how to live your life, who can you trust?"

One for my personal quote book...