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Thinking Out Loud

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

My Kind of Gamer >> Part I - The Gracious Gamer

Over the last few weeks, I haven't gotten nearly as much gaming in as I usually do. Instead, I've been wrapping up a few freelance contracts, spending more time with my family, and recovering from a recent illness and seasonal allergies.

But while I haven't gotten to game often, gaming is never far from my mind. I've started to think more and more about the wide variety of gamers I get to game with. I have a "pool" of 20-25 gamers I game with -- some more often than others, but most of whom I see every month or so. And no two gamers are alike. Sure, there are some similarities in traits and tastes (otherwise, we wouldn't be gaming together in the first place) but there are far more differences.

Some of the differences are in play styles, experience, susceptibility to analysis paralysis and the like. Other differences are far less game-centric, but still affect the game experience -- from simple manners to sense of humor, from empathy to enthusiasm.

The trait that's been on my mind the most lately, though, is grace. Or more accurately, being a gracious gamer. It's hard to define, being more of an intuitive feeling than a static, measurable attribute. But some discussion points come to mind that I think help describe what I mean.

  • When another player has an excellent turn, at your expense, do you applaud their success and clever play, or more likely to wallow in your own situation?
  • When table talk targets you as a player in the lead to be dealt with, do you take it as a challenge, or become disgruntled at being singled out?
  • When you lose a game by a wide margin, do you credit the play of your opponents, or look to your own poor play?
  • When faced with extremely poor luck (bad dice rolls, horrible luck of the draw, victimized by random events) do you roll with the punches or feel persecuted?
  • Are you a good loser, or more importantly, a good winner?

Answering these questions myself is difficult, as it's never easy to be truly objective about one's own behavior. I'd like to think I'm a gracious player, but I know I have my fair share of moments around the gaming table I'm not proud of. And while there are many, many attributes that characterize the type of gamer I like gaming with, I think a gracious player is near the top of the list...

What do you think? What does being a gracious player really mean? Do some of your regulars exhibit this far more frequently (or infrequently) than others? Can other positive attributes offset a player who is habitually fails to be gracious in victory and defeat?


  • What an excellent article! I really enjoy your writings.

    I think your phrase "gracious gamer" is perfect. Certainly, I would prefer to play with people like this than people who are not gracious.

    Am I a gracious gamer? Sometimes (usually, I hope). I try to be gracious all the time. However, in the heat of the moment, I know I occasionally slip into such modes as whining, accusations, pleading, and railing against the universe for my bad fortune. Actually, since all my gaming is with my family, graciousness prevails most of the time at our table.

    We tried to teach our children (and now our grandchildren) to be gracious losers and winners. Our adult son wins 25% of the games we play (always with either 5 or 6 players). This is the highest winning percentage in the group. He seldom brags about his winning status, and sometimes he suffers, because we do tend to pick on him more than on the rest of the group. Obviously, he is a very gracious gamer and is a good model for the rest of us.

    By Blogger gamesgrandpa, at 3:50 PM  

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