It's a common experience. Like many other activities, playing games can transform us to higher spiritual and mental heights, or reflect the negative energies of our surroundings.
It's not a tragedy when something doesn't work out as well as it should have or could have, but it's a bit of a tragedy if we don't learn from a negative experience and take steps to prevent its re-occurrence. A little planning goes a long way.
- Devote Yourself to the Experience
Gaming, like exercise, eating, and sleep, is not an "accomplishment" activity, it is a "sustaining" activity. We play to center ourselves, feel at peace, refresh our spirits, and keep our bodies and mind tuned. If you are reluctant to play, think that you're wasting your time, or have more important things to do, it may not be the right time to play.
- Find the Right Partners
You'll feel stress playing with people who give you stress. Don't force yourself to play games with someone who won't make the experience a positive one.
If you're playing with a family member, say a child or a grandparent, you may have to bring the positive experience into the play yourself. Recognize that in this situation, the game is just a means to an end: a happy social experience. If the game is getting in the way of that experience, you need to work on your child's social skills or jettison the game.
- Find the Right Game
The right game can't be too long or too short, too complicated or too shallow, too easy or too frustrating. There's no right game every time for any one person, pair or group of people, or time. You may want a light game at one time an a heavy game at another.
- Prepare Yourself
Unless you're in an official competition, don't go into a game angry, bent on revenge, or ready to win at all costs. You're goal is to enjoy the experience.
Ensure that you have the allotted time necessary to finish the game. Ensure that you won't have too many interruptions (leave off the cellphone, if possible) or distractions (turn off the TV and have some dry snacks and drinks nearby).
It's worth thinking about beforehand what to do if the game goes overtime or can't be completed.
You'll also feel better about a game when you're decently fed and rested, physically fit, and in a clean quiet environment where nothing urgent is competing for your immediate attention.
- Prepare the Game
Keep a neat, organized stack of some favorite games within easy reach. Ensure that your games have all their pieces and your card decks are complete.
Know the rules of the game before your start to play so you don't have to keep referring to the rulebook during play. If the game requires a lot of set up time, store components in separate piles in plastic bags in the game box to help cut down on this time.
- Give in to Arguments
No one wins a protracted argument. State your case, but be ready to concede rules decision issues. You may not win the battle, but you will be paid many times over by maintaining a pleasant atmosphere. I promise that not every rule decision will go against you.
Sure, it's hard to see a well-deserved win turn into a loss because of a bad ruling. But winning is internal, not external. You know you played well and won; you will cement that with good grace, not with arguing over bad rulings.
- Don't Play for Keeps
Unless you're in an official competition, nothing sours a game like having to win for real because you can't afford to lose. Don't play for keeps; play to refresh.
- Try Your Best
Every game deserves your best effort. Neither you nor your opponents will feel good if you didn't give it your all. If you're tiring, give gaming a break, or find a new game.
- Level the Playing Field
If you're vastly better than or worse than your opponent, find a different game or introduce a handicap to even up the sides. This will keep the game interesting for all participants.
Some games lend themselves naturally to handicaps, such as Go. Others require you to invent handicaps on the spot. In Monopoly, for instance, one player can start with more or less money or a property or two.
- Don't Prolong Misery
In some games, the winner is known well in advance. The polite thing to do by all parties is to end the game and move on. But beware! In some games, players well behind can catch up unexpectedly. It depends on the game, how long you've been playing, how long the game still has to go, and what possibilities still exist for a comeback.
- Play Fair
Games are the quintessential arena for practicing good manners and sportsmanship. Playing fair is not merely about not cheating, but not taking advantage of rulings you can twist to your advantage, or confrontational play that would upset your opponent. If you're in the mood for a one on one killing game and your opponent isn't, see rule 2.