Friday, July 24, 2015

Healthy Competition

I'm a big hockey fan. Correction...I'm a livid, eccentric hockey fan. The reason I like it? The combination of skill and passion it takes to play. The key element of that passion is the pure competition that is born from it.

And hot damn is it fun to win over your competition.

Try and grasp the intensity of this moment
The above photo is a rather mundane moment in hockey. This is a faceoff. In your run-of-the-mill NHL game you can expect to see 50 to 70 of these. Look at the intensity captured here. You can see the photographer probably snapped the shutter the moment he saw the ref drop the puck. 9.8m/s squared that puck has fallen and these guys are sprawling for it. Ice is spraying, they're focused, and it's intense. All this will result momentary possession by either team.

You can feel the competition present in this photo.

My gripe with gamer's today is the shunning of competition. (Yes this is about wargaming, stay with me folks.) We have developed as a society to praise all as winners, regardless of performance. We even instill it into our kids as soon as they enter any form of competition because we're so afraid we're going to hurt their feelings.

Thanks for throwing the ball over the fence and blowing the game, Jenny.
If we maintained the fear of loss, we suddenly strive for more. A desire is born to do better than your perceived best. Then suddenly we experience personal growth and accomplishment. Could you imagine a world where every day you wake up with something new to accomplish? It's pretty hard to do so in any real context in a world that tells you no matter what you're a winner!

I love competition. It's a good thing. There are plenty of people who don't want to play competitive wargaming. Which seems absolutely bonkers to me, personally. Here is a direct competitive setting. You literally stand across from your opponent. It's almost as if these types of players would rather team up with their buddies and play a scripted baddie they mock out. Which truthfully makes me want to vomit.

Don't get carried away with what I'm saying here. There is a very big difference between win at all costs and genuine competition. I am simply saying bringing your best and being passionate about winning. For a company like Games Workshop, what does competition do for their business? I imagine a gamer passionate about competition will purchase more readily than one casually picking out their 5 man fluff unit. Just a hunch.

Five for fighting
One of my all time favorite moments in hockey was centered around a fight. Game 6 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins were playing against their ultimate rival in the Flyers. They were down in a game 3-0. Max Talbot got into a fight (not the one pictured above.)

Fights are common in hockey. Max is a good fighter. Max got his ass kicked. Driven to the ice and taken down. The Flyer's crowd went nuts, as they should. Instead of skating into the sin-bin quietly however, Mad Max made one simple gesture to the crowd...

Instead of taking it. He kept the competition alive. At a point where it seemed the game wasn't even modestly competitive any longer.

The Penguins rode a surge of emotion this brought on and won the game and series by scoring 5 straight goals...silencing the Flyer's crowd permanently for that season.

The Penguins won the Stanley Cup a few weeks later.

Competition can be triumphant. It's also very fun. Keep it in your wargames if at all possible.

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