The Ethos of Winning

An ideal seldom alluded to, yet an underlying motif of previous posts, is the derivate of the need and of the want to play games– competition. Why do we “play” games? What is “fun” about games? The answer is simple: an individual enters a game to master, conquer, and win. It is through unarguable achievement and positive recognition that “fun” is derived from a game.

Yes, as a collective group we can arrive at the consensus that clear, undisputable definitions of “play” and “fun” may never be achieved. However, all individuals can agree that winning is better than losing. Continually winning offers an incentive to continually play.

The “fun” of games is derived in ultimate mastery of the game. Why does chess appeal to 80-year-old “masters” of the game? Is it a coincidence that an individual’s favorite game is usually the one that they have a high scoring record? It is the high possibility of a win that creates the desire to play a game and it is winning that allows the fun in a game to occur.

Play teaches us to master the game and beat the competition thus individuals are motivated to play the game until mastery is achieved. Competition is the core of fun, play, and the game itself.

Global, societal, and individual competition allows progress to be made. While the need and want to play is an intrinsic characteristic that fosters the principle of competition; games solidify and establish necessary traits associated with survival and success.

1 thought on “The Ethos of Winning

  1. Professor Sample

    That’s an interesting point — that “through unarguable achievement and positive recognition that “fun” is derived from a game.” There are scientific studies that would seem to back this up (maybe one of the seekers will find one?). Fun is a physiological phenomenon. Winning quite literally sends a shock of dopamine through our system and it feels good. Males and females experience the winning effect (if we can call our body’s reaction that) differently, which helps account for some (but not all) of the different stereotypes about the ways men and women enjoy different types of games.

    I’ll throw a monkey wrench into the argument, though, by noting that “winning isn’t everything.” There are some games — and indeed, real life situation’s, exemplified by the Prisoner’s Dilemma — in which winning is actually a worse outcome than losing, or reaching a draw.

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