I have something to confess. I really enjoy PLAYING board games. That means I do like winning and I can get sad if I lose, but in the end of the day it is the gaming social experience I love the most. And that is exactly why I hate tournaments.
Yes, yes, I know, hate is such a strong word. But I really do. Whenever I had a chance to take part in a tournament (and, to be honest, it wasn’t that many – six, maybe seven tournaments), the pleasure I normally take from playing games was massively diminished. Now, there are a couple of reasons for that. First of all, the reason behind playing. It’s no longer the need of participation in some group fun. It’s not this urge to be with other people and do something unique, creative, together. No. When you sit to a game at a tournament, the only thing you want to do is to win. I’m not saying I ever sit to a game without the will to win – of course not – but it’s never my ONLY drive, you see? All other reasons tend to fall into background, simply stripping the whole experience from joy.
Secondly, this air of competition. I know that many tournaments gamer understand and enforce the rules of fair play – I went to this prerelease event for Ixalan lately – new Magic the Gathering block. Before going there I had known really little about the meta of the game, I simply knew how to play. So, when I joined in I needed some help with putting the deck together, understanding the wording and so on. And hell! I got all the help in the world! I played with three different opponents, each of them patiently teaching me everything – and that was fantastic! But at the same time at one of the tables I saw a guy simply using the tournament rules to the very limit – you’ve drawn your card? Sorry, no untapping for you, you have to do this first. Haven’t untapped one of the cards? Sorry, too late. And the event I went to was labelled by the organizers as “new player friendly”. Still, this would probably not have happened in a regular friendly game, and I simply don’t want to encounter such behaviour when I sit to a game.
Finally, the material aspect of tournaments. There are always some rewards – and we are only humans. That means that when you lose a game, a match, you come second, third or last – you feel disappointed on some level. Some of us feel less that way, but nevertheless – you sit to a game, to enjoy your beloved hobby – and you leave the table disappointed. Is that what gaming is about? I doubt it.
For me gaming is about being with the other person or persons. About enjoying the time together, cheering for your opponent’s great moves, having real fun when your engine gives you this one crucial point more at the end of the game. No remorse, no disappointment, no heavy thoughts. And as much as I’d love to get in love with tournaments, for the reasons above, I cannot.