Games are something that humans have developed as a source of entertainment. They are played constantly, and in many different forms, each game being decided by a different factor. A game that I would play as a kid, looking out the car window on long drives, I would watch the power lines move up and down as we moved past them, and try to keep the power lines above the mountains in the background. It was a game that took no skill, luck, or strength to play or win, and it had no purpose but to pass time, but as long as I was having a non-zero amount of fun, it was worth it.
At their core, most every game is designed to be fun or entertaining. That’s why we spend money on them after all, for our enjoyment.
Let’s be honest with ourselves though, we’ve all played games that we haven’t enjoyed.
Multiple people can gang up on you and completely remove any relevance you might have had from the game, crippling you until someone else eventually wins and the game ends without you even being able to play it. You can get caught up in a politics game and be on the wrong side of a bad trade deal which puts you way further behind than you would like. You can get punished extremely hard by not playing optimally because you don’t fully understand the rules, so you’re left feeling like you never even played.
You can get into a personal fight with a friend, which causes you to feel stupid and unsure of yourself.
This is when it is appropriate to quit playing a game.
When you stop having fun with a game, there is no point in playing anymore. At its core, the game has lost 95% of it’s meaning if you are not having fun. You are wasting your time, and you are wasting the time of other players by being a part of the game, and not having fun. Some people believe that this is a childish ideology to have towards games, however, as if you’re in the top 8 of a Grand Prix, you’re obviously not going to quit playing if you stop having fun, because a lot is at stake. In that sense, you are still having fun though.
Playing at high stakes is a game in and of itself. You’re wagering your skills against your opponents in hopes of winning a chance to progress to the next stage of opponents, and you win the big prize at the top if you beat all of them. This is a game that inspires hope and passion into the games leading to its conclusion.
We are always playing games.
We play games within games. We play games when we don’t want to play games, and we play games to get other people to play games. Games play a huge role in our lives, which is why it’s so important to stop playing the ones you don’t enjoy.
I have a friend who attended Grand Prix Las Vegas with me last year, and he was beyond upset with Magic after not doing well in the main event, or in side events. He persisted and continued to play on MTGO when we returned home, when he became so enraged that he punched a hole through his monitor.
He stopped playing Magic for three months after this incident.
Now, he has steadily reintroduced himself to the game. He didn’t sell any of his cards, because he knew he would want to come back, so he was able to pick up mostly where he left off, just with a fresh attitude towards the entire game.
I’ve seen another friend of mine sell their entire collections, decks they had spent months and even years pimping out, throwing thousands of dollars at the game, only to get back into it and have to restart their entire collection again a few months later. And it breaks my heart to see this happen.
While these two friends of mine went through different experiences, they both did the same thing. They stopped having fun with Magic, so they stopped playing Magic. After they had stopped playing Magic, it was fun again, and they returned to playing Magic.
Games are an excellent way to bond with friends and family, as well as meet new people and have countless positive experiences, and it’s a travesty that people will subject themselves to torment as they force themselves to play games that they don’t enjoy. You can’t justify it. You can never convince me to play a game I won’t enjoy over doing nothing at all, or playing any other game.
With how easily accessible games are at any given time, with smartphones, cards games, and portable video games, we are at no shortage of games to encapsulate our attention. There is no reason to play a game you don’t enjoy, over one that you do enjoy.
All of this has come to my mind, because of something that happened to me last night. I was attempting to learn a card game, one that I can’t even remember the name to. I’m not sure if it was the way the game was being taught to me, or if the game actually had rules that were difficult to understand, but I could not understand how the game was played. Because of this, I became frustrated. Because of this, another person became frustrated and lashed out at me.
This is when I decided to stop playing this game.
I left in a fit of rage and went to the shop, there I played some Magic and had a good time, and was able to calm down from my previous encounter.
This is an accumulation of the knowledge that I have obtained after working in the board game industry for two years now. You need to have fun with it, and if you aren’t having fun, switch. It’s the endless pursuit of happiness that we as humans naturally strive for, and it’s incorrect of us to neglect that in order to continue to play a simple game.
So, as someone who strives to play competitively, how do I utilize this information? If I am to play competitively, I am going to have to play for extended periods of time and be able to intake a lot of information about why things are happening. I need to be playing well, while taking notes on why I am playing well, all the while remembering to have fun.
It is impossible to remember to have fun when playing the game if you are completely focused. You need to instead weave fun into every element of the game. For me, it’s fun doing combat math. It’s fun to sequence creature spells correctly and navigate through counter magic in the best way possible. It’s fun to think of all the different cards your opponent could be holding in order to narrow down the options you have available to the most correct play you can have.
These aren’t rules, these are my opinions. When you work in Magic, Magic becomes work. But by keeping in mind everything about this game that I find fun, it allows me to have a brighter mindset and a healthier outlook towards the spirit of the game.
This is when it’s appropriate to keep playing the game.