Saturday, August 22, 2009


I work a lot on my computer. And, since my attention has a tendency to wander, I like to play quick games to focus my thoughts. My latest favorite is Internet Spades, but backgammon and various forms of solitaire will do, as well.

One incredibly frustrating thing about multiplayer games, however, is the tendency many players have to quit a game the moment their score goes sour. In spades, for instance, all too often opponents will quit a game if they lose a nil bid or if their assigned opponent fails to make their quota of tricks in a hand. I find the frequency with which this happens annoying, because I would prefer to play against humans than the somewhat predictable computer.

What irks me the most, however, is this tendency of people to quit at the first sign of adversity. Personally, I enjoy the challenge of overcoming a setback, and take great pride in winning a game during which the score was lopsided in the other team's favor.

But, I think it is the literal lack of willingness to "stay at the table" that perturbs me the most. I suppose that these players are looking for a game where they win 500 to nothing on two blind nil bids, and are not satisfied with anything less. If you want to play alone against the computer in search for the so-called perfect game, be my guest. But, for me, part of the point of playing any game with human companions is the act of playing, of strategizing, and not simply seeking a desired outcome. Frankly, I would rather lose a tight, well-played match than win simply because the other players left the field of play.

Sometimes, staying at the table is not easy. Life does not always deal fair hands to everyone. Sometimes, we might not like the style of other players. And, sometimes, we have to utilize strategies we find uncomfortable in order to achieve our goals.

But life, whether we talk about playing a card game, or running a church, or managing our society, calls upon us all to stay at the table. We may not always get our way. But, as we learn more about others, we learn more about ourselves. And, in the end, the solutions we arrive at will be stronger for our efforts.