Mindful boardgaming

So, two weeks ago I wrote about being competitive in boardgames. As I discussed there: I viewed myself as "not competitive", which to me meant that I did not mind losing, and that I would allow others to win if it clearly meant more to them than to me.

This meant that when I was ahead in the game, I would hold back and make smaller moves, just to even the playing field again. I would do this both consciously as well as unconsciously. And seriously: I would say sorry to the other players when I did end up winning. I was a bad winner.

The discussion of two weeks ago changed my mind about this: it is unfair to other players to not give it your all. It is also related to self love (a topic I have been exploring a lot in the past two months): trying to win means you can lose, and you should know that you are still an okay person when you do. Also it's okay to take up the space in a group when you are the winner: you won, you may be seen.

So in the past two weeks I've been trying harder to win, and it changed my experience in boardgames for the better. I didn't necessarily won more, but I am prouder of the wins I did get, and I didn't talk myself down afterwards ("sorry" or "it was just luck"). The wins felt like validation: I am good at games.

At the same time, the loses are indeed hurting a bit more. But I don't see that as a bad thing. I played Unfathomable and lost. But I also identified a few big mistakes in my way of playing the game. Because I was so invested in winning, the mistakes actually hurt, so I will for sure remember not to take on those strategies if I ever play it again. Actually trying to win the game makes you better at games.

That said, I just finished my first in-person Dungeons & Dragons session since 2020, and I really enjoyed it. This is a game that is not about winning at all: it can be endless and it's really just a form of collaborative story telling.

But here also, I made some "mistakes". I felt like I could've tried harder to come up with nice twists for the story (there was a lot of "sure I'll follow" and shooting arrows from a distance). Even though this game is not about winning, there is still a skill and a commitment to bring your best to it. It feels similar to what I call "being competitive".

Two weeks ago I chose the words "therapeutic boardgaming", but I really want to go for "mindful boardgaming" now. Enjoy the moment and give it your best, in that way, you get the best experience.