Why We Game


Reecius here with an editorial on gaming during these special holiday times!

Competitive tabletop gaming is a topic that stimulates both a great deal of discussion and strong feelings.

Some folks feel that the very idea of it is absurd, and that competitive toy soldiers is a bit of bad comedy. For folks in this category the game is played strictly for fun and that is the primary purpose of the exercise. Allowing competitive instincts to overcome this goal can lead to what they feel is an unenjoyable experience wherein the game devolves into a contest of wills and fun falls by the wayside.

For a gamer more oriented towards this line of thinking, the game is most fun, most immersive, when everyone is working together in a form of collective storytelling. Who wins and who loses is important, but less important than everyone creating a story with the game they are playing. They seek to lose themselves in that sense of discovery and light-hearted fun of a good game.

Others absolutely love competitive gaming. For these types of gamers, the thrill of a tough game is the most enjoyable way to play. The intensity of pitting your mind, skill and luck against an equally skilled opponent creates a more immersive experience. That is the fun for them, and while a game strictly for laughs can also be a great game, it simply lacks the intensity of a truly competitive game.

I took a class in university called Wilderness and the Outdoor Experience. At the time, it sounded like an easy A, a class we called in my day a “Mickey Mouse Course,” meaning that it was a class you really didn’t need to put any effort into.

However, I was wrong on both the ease of the class and the fact that it would be a Mickey Mouser. It turned out to be both challenging and extremely interesting. In it, we studied something called “peak experiences.” These occur when you become so immersed in what you are doing that you lose your sense of self and time. You become so focused that everything else fades into the background.

The professor used the example of White Water Rafting, Mountain Climbing, etc. as potentially peak experiences. I think all of us have had these types of experiences in our lifetimes. For those of us who crave that truly competitive match, when we find it it can become a peak experience. And that is why I think so many gamers gravitate towards highly competitive play at some point in their gaming careers. The other great thing about competitive gaming is that you can use it as an outlet to scratch your competitive itch no matter your age or physical condition! I also love doing fun runs and races, but that will become something that is increasingly more difficult as I advance in age. Competitive 40K? So long as the game exists and my mind is still sharp, I can do it indefinitely and continue to improve!

However, for the more casual gamer, they can also experience this type of feeling in the middle of a well orchestrated narrative campaign, or in a simple pick-up game wherein they and their friends are laughing so hard at what happens on the tabletop, that they for a time forget their daily problems and lose themselves in the game. And, as with competitive gaming, this is something you can build and enjoy and share with children and even grandchildren down through the years, sharing your collections and experiences with them.

What I think is important to remember is that both players are seeking the same thing: an escape into the world of the game. Whether they get their via intense competition and focus, or intense immersion in a narrative gaming experience, they are both trying to get to the top of the same mountain.

So in the spirit of Christmas and the holidays, keep that in mind next time you want to call someone WAAC or a Fluff Bunny and ask yourself if you are helping to build community or break it apart. We are all, after all, playing the same games and these games that we play, require a community to function.

Merry Christmas, everyone!



About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!

21 Responses to “Why We Game”

  1. Son of Dorn December 26, 2013 1:09 am #

    *slow clap*

  2. Bigpig December 26, 2013 8:21 am #

    Well said. I like the peak experiences idea and would agree with it. I find good competitive games incredibly immersive and tend to lose awareness of time and certainly am not bothered by others issues which may be going on in my life. It is an escape from everything else in the same way that those “outdoor experiences” may be, though for only hours or so at a time. Very interesting. In comparison, when playing a fun game with my eleven year old, I experience the game in a different way and don’t get that immersion. Thanks for sharing and Merry Christmas.

    • Reecius December 26, 2013 10:35 am #

      Yeah, I agree. When I am teaching youngsters how to play, it is super fun but not the same type of experience. I enjoy it a lot and it is a good time, but for those of us who are very competitive, that truly difficult match is where the thrill is.

  3. Alan December 26, 2013 10:25 am #

    I game because I need a reason to get into ambiguous arguments with people on the internet! ESPECIALLY when I don’t read the articles I like to rip (Yay BOLS). In all seriousness, happy holidays and great article!

    • Reecius December 26, 2013 10:36 am #

      Haha, right?! That is a different hobby: “The Skim and Troll!” for which many BoLS commentors are famous.

  4. TrueKnight December 26, 2013 11:01 am #

    I totally agree Reece. It blows my mind how snobby gaming people can be. If you are a fluff type, by all means play fluffy. If you are a tournament competitive type then have at it. The game should b enjoyable, regardless of how you play. I don’t understand all the sniping that goes on in forums and comments sections. Im not a tourney gamer, but i understand those that do. I feel like anything can be competitive… Hell im competitive in beer pong at family functions. The game is big enough for everyone to have their cake and eat it too (whch sometimes eating cake is a peak experience lol). We all play for different reasons but woth the same goal, to have fun and escape some of the not so nice aspects of life.

    • Reecius December 26, 2013 11:55 am #

      Well said, and yes, hahaha, beer pong can get VERY competitive! I love that game.

      It’s all about perspective and not trying to force your point of view on others or judging them by your own standards as they just don’t always apply equally.

  5. Hotsauceman1 December 26, 2013 11:27 am #

    The problem is when the two mix by accident. I find it hard to get games in at my local FLGS because I won so many times

    • Reecius December 26, 2013 11:54 am #

      Yeah, I always ask my opponent what kind of game they want to play if we have not played before: competitive or casual.

  6. jadedknight December 26, 2013 12:28 pm #

    In psychology the term you are describing is called ‘flow’, there is a lot of interesting literature on it.

    The same dichotomy could be said about people who enjoy painting and those who field grey armies.


    • Reecius December 26, 2013 3:25 pm #

      That is really interesting, thanks for sharing it! I am fascinated by these types of things and love to read about them.

  7. Ming December 26, 2013 4:10 pm #

    Nicely said! My own gaming group could be an experimental microcosm of the whole. We have a bunch who claim they only play for the fluffy storylines…and then they show up with net lists and try to crush you with them. They have already moved on in their fluffy non-competitive-ness with super heavies and forts to netlist and crush us with. Me, I just play harder to eek out wins with my third company ultramarines!

    • Reecius December 26, 2013 4:51 pm #

      Yeah, the hypocrisy of some people amuses me to no end. Everyone wants to win, it’s just how we win that some of us differ on.

  8. Greg December 26, 2013 5:31 pm #

    The reason why I game and my peak point are two different things. I game to remember home. I live and work overseas. There is a bit of local 40k over here, but I have a heard time speaking the language. There is another expat that I do play with though. I use this time to remove myself from my local situation, and to go back home mentally. We sit, drink, have beer, and enjoy each others company. I use this time to fufill my homesick itch.

    For me, it is not the game which provides the peak experience, but simply the act of getting ready for it. This incluts both list building and painting/modeling. I am not a competitive gamer, nor a golden deamon winner. But I enjoy reading tactics, battle reports (can’t wath them in the country I am in), and painting tutorials. I have lots of free time in the morning, so I try to use this time to practice and improve upon my limited skills. I find myslef often times in painting time-holes, where I start at 7 am, get up to get breakfast, look at my phone, and it is 11 am.

  9. Moridan December 27, 2013 6:33 am #

    Thank you.

    Some people in my gaming group cry “cheese”, but then turn around and take my advice on strong combo’s. I do my best not to be bothered by this and continue to have fun playing, and thats all that matters to me.

    • Reecius December 27, 2013 10:19 am #

      Yup, I see that all the time. We all want to win, some people just get really upset when they lose when their army is what they think of as being “the right way to play” or what have you.

  10. THE General Oadius - Wolfbrothers Reclusiarch December 28, 2013 6:29 am #

    Why I game? How pretentious are you to dare implicate General Oadius as falling into one of these categories?!…. I am unique in the universe and only game because the Emperor demands it.

    • Reecius December 28, 2013 1:57 pm #

      hahaha, well then, excuse me, sir! =P

  11. Chris December 29, 2013 2:47 pm #

    I think theres atleast a little tiny hypocrite in every competitive 40k player and i dont understand why anyone would write a negative article about the evolution of 40k…. Thank you Reecius for injecting some sense and maybe even helping to balance this type of discussion. I’m just now getting into competitive 40k play and have the means to travel to tournaments all over the US. Im not sure why people think theres no room to have a fun, competitive game conducted with reasonable sportsmanship while simultaneously forging a super rock hard, Fluffed up River Dance/JC Superstar Narative! Or whatever the fuck you want to do. maybe lack of personality?
    Anyway great article!

    • Reecius December 29, 2013 3:27 pm #

      Haha, yes, lack of personality can be the issue =)

      Thanks, and glad you like the article. And, welcome to the tournament scene! It is a blast and it is something exciting to look forward to!

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