Losing a game doesn’t always have to suck. So why does it hurt our feelings? Human nature. Yup, feeling crappy for losing a game is totally natural, and it blows. Here are a few tips for coping with the suckage and making your gaming experience more positive when you’re on the losing end.
1. Acknowledge that your feelings are legitimate
Logically, it seems irrational to feel angry, frustrated, or sad about losing a board game. Well guess what? Emotions aren’t logical. You feel them for a reason, and feeling negatively at any kind of loss is totally normal. Disappointment is–get this–disappointing. It’s perfectly okay to feel upset, so don’t get mad at yourself for feeling that way. That doesn’t give you the right to take it out on your opponent though. Good sportsmanship will make the game a better experience for everyone involved.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it might be best to excuse yourself for a while to recenter because sometimes the issue is beyond losing a game. Things like depression, anxiety, and other disorders can amplify the negative emotions that come from losing.
I was at a gaming convention playing 7 Wonders with some friends and strangers. I couldn’t fully grasp what I was doing and started freaking out. It made little sense to me. I was on the verge of crying–over a game!–and excused myself. I realized what happened was that my blood sugar was dropping and my social anxiety was flaring up because I felt embarrassed from not understanding the rules. So I took some time to drink a soda and talk with other friends before I returned to the table. No one was mad at me, and a total stranger completely understood what I was going through. Somehow I got 2nd place. I still don’t know how, and I really don’t ever want to 7 Wonders again.
2. It really is only a game
It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the competitive spirit of gaming. Some people are naturally more competitive than others, and once they get in the game, it’s all about getting the win. It’s almost instinctive, so losing can be even harder if you’re one of those naturally competitive types.
You’re not playing chess with Death or a game of poisoned cups with a Sicilian. Your life is not at stake. Your house and finances are not at stake. So what if you lose? Is anyone really going to care 10 minutes later? Probably not. When it comes to roleplaying games, it can be really fun to fail because that creates moments that are the most funny or dramatic. Are you having fun? Because that’s way more important than winning. If you didn’t have fun playing, then it’s either time to get a new game, or get new friends.
3. Take joy in the happiness of others
It’s easy to wallow in your own sadness and eventually drown in self-pity. This goes for gaming and in real life. Sometimes we let ourselves get jealous over a friend’s success. What does that do aside from causing ourselves pain? Not much at all. Instead of letting jealousy overcome you, take joy in the happiness of your friend’s victory. Look at the smile on their face. Congratulate them on a game well played. Being happy for them will make you happier.
Win or lose, treat others how you want to be treated. If you won and your friends lost, would you want them throwing a fit? Would you want them sulking in a corner or insulting you?
Unless you’re a total jerkface, one should hope not.
I hope these tips will help you get more enjoyment out of gaming. What are some of your tips for coping with a game loss? Share your wisdom with us in the comments.
Featured image credit: Statelight Inc.