April 5, 2006

Playing Seriously is No Fun?

I play badminton regularly. I have a friend who plays with me. He is good but most of the time, he does not take the game seriously. So he makes lots of mistakes and often they turn out to be decisive. When I urge him to more attention and cut down on mistakes, his standard reply is: I am not playing to win; I am just playing for fun.

This type of temperament is very common. But when I think about it, I find it a bit odd.

Why do we play games? (I am not concerned here with professional players.) In my view, there are two basic reasons. Firstly, people play games for physical or mental exercise. Secondly, and more importantly, people play for fun. In other words, people play because they enjoy playing. In fact, play is often deemed the jolly part of life.

So we play for fun. Naturally "fun" is not easy to quantify and different people have different ways of maximizing it. The attitude of my friend, which is very common, implies that playing to win (or playing seriously) is not fun. This is what I find perplexing. This attitude dismisses winning. But paradoxically, it increases the value of winning. It does so by making "winning" an extraordinary feat achieving which involves lot of effort, nullifying the fun aspect.

When I play, I am eagerly trying to win. However, winning is not an end in itself. Winning is not even the primary goal. Primary goal is to play as well as I can. I can not have fun if I know that I am not playing as well as I can. I am totally accounting for varying skills here. I myself is not particularly good at many games. That is why winning is not the holy grail. If so, playing with a better player is meaningless. Yet you can always play as well as you can. If that is the aim, then with whom you are playing is irrelevant. In fact, playing with better players is good because that is how one improves.


At 2:05 AM, April 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

having fun is also an intense activity and I think one should be sincere about it.
One cannot be having fun " playing" by not giving the game any attention.
In that case the person is basically relaxing by taking a break from something which one does seriously and certianly not aiming to have "fun" playing.
Having said that I would like to point out that Often certain "unsucessfull" experiments are confused with lack of seriousness.

At 2:50 AM, April 06, 2006, Blogger Krishna said...

Navin, completely agree with you. One can not have fun unless he/she pays full attention. It also true that failure is often taken to be indicative of lack of effort/seriousness. That is meaningless. As I wrote, winning may not have anything to do with the sincerity of your effort.

At 4:42 AM, April 07, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How the hell did u know it was me

At 4:02 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger Krishna said...

I have my methods!


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