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Laughing & Losing

For all those gamers out there, how many of you have learned to judge a person’s character on how they play a game and how they lose it?

Laughing and playing with family

They slice that cold, abrupt stare in your direction, letting you know you’re somehow undeserving of a win. Then there’s that Urkle voice whispering in your ear, “Did I do that?”

You quickly shuffle the cards, clear the table or rearrange the playing pieces, hoping to break the ice and remind everyone that it’s just a game. Knowing if that loser was a dog, they’d be growling right about now.


Then there are those playing that smile the Cheshire Cat smile. Leaving you to wonder what they got up their sleeve for the next round. The smile lingers in the room, even after they’ve departed for a quick break. Leaving everyone else to readjust the sitting arrangement or offering to take a new partner. Someone leans quietly and says, “Maybe we should let them go first next time.”


I’ve had experiences with a family member who felt they were naturally better player because they were the oldest or the most knowledgeable. Anyone who circumvented their “skillset” had to have won by luck. There was no “laughing about their losing.”


One understands that people play board games the same way they approach life.


When I introduced my daughter to board games at a young age, her first response was to cry when she suffered her first loss. I offered to shake her hand, but she didn’t want to. We played a few more times, and she finally won her game. I laughed and offered to shake her hand again, saying, “Good game.”


She understood it wasn’t the ending of the game that mattered. It was the “father and daughter time” that we shared. It was always better to share those moments with each other. She and my sons know that good game etiquette is the norm.


When playing Mario Kart, there was no way I could out-master the coordination of my kids. I would laugh and taunt them. Letting them know I could lose, but I would be a maniacal thorn in their side. We’d have so much fun, laughing all the way to the finish line,

We taunt and brag but do it at the right volume. We instill in each other the challenge without belittling one another.


Like I stated in an earlier blog, my mother made “game time” “family time.” I have seen players play for the win and for the win only. Some brag to belittle or use their time to count other players' mistakes, hoping to cause embarrassment.


Losing often leaves me laughing and swearing my next game would be better. I used to play Gin-Go (our card game) at a senior facility on Gun Hill Road, Bronx, New York. Good elders, swearing, cursing, threatening mayhem while we held our cards. We start with “Best two out of three,” but when the same team won twice, someone would always chime in, “I thought you said best three out of five.” We’d all laugh and keep playing.


It was not about the wins; it was always about keeping company with one another. It might be another few days before we can meet again, so let’s stretch the time by extending each other’s company. Laughing became a battle cry, “One more game, suckers!”


If you ever lose to a braggart, laugh. Let any insults roll over you, and know that if one player can not enjoy the gaming experience, it’s their problem, not yours. Gaming is an enjoyable competitive experience. It is time shared in laughter, small talk, and the ebb and flow of luck mixed with skill in some cases.


So I laugh when I lose because the pleasure is in playing, and someone has to win. Keep it light, keep it frosty, keep it fun. Fun enough to laugh with others and laugh at yourself.


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