Monday, September 19
The Old Guard Perspective: What do you mean you quit?
Sometimes a line of thought veers way off course, into something far more philosophical. This is one of those times... STOP QUITTING!
I am helping to design a feature of the Feast of Blades this year, The Feasts of Strength. In the course of this, Duke put out our product for testing and feedback, and an odd comment popped up. One group of Feats was criticized as rewarding a player who was already winning, and that we didn't want players telling opponents that they couldn't concede or forfeit because they were trying for such and such feat. And I paused after reading that for a long time. A lot of things were thought all at once as I sat at my desk, but one thing in particular stood out: Players should not be conceding defeat.
Now I hear all of you out there, "why on earth would I continue to play a game that is hopelessly lost; a game that is no fun at all?" I will be the first to admit that getting the bajeezus stomped out of you on the game table is not a pleasant experience. This is particularly true when you have invested a great deal of time and effort trying to avoid it. And we are playing a game after all. Isn't having fun what this is supposed to be all about? All that is indeed true. To a point. I would suggest that the act of conceding a game is not the grand, time-saving gesture to my opponent as some might make it out to be.
I am a very widely versed gamer. In all my experience with role playing, board games, card games, table-top games, sports, and even video games, only chess has any formal form of "surrender". In almost all other cases it is generally considered to be bad form at best to quit the game before it has reached its' natural conclusion. At worst, such behavior is subject to heavy fines and community censure. We demand it of ourselves and others that we put forth our best efforts, even in morale crushing situations. In return for this expectation, it also expected that when we do win, we do so with grace. The common term is "sportsmanship".
Supporting this point of view, is the fact that we are playing a war game. Even keeping in mind that it's a game, I still have a hard time not thinking back to something that is very important to those who learn it:
"I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist".
Article II, US Armed Forces Code of Conduct
This principle is very clear. We are the commanders of our armies. We must not surrender, so long as we can resist our enemies. Not only can we not surrender, we must strive to do our utmost to continue to inflict casualties, and pursue courses to victory.
Feast of Blades, I would remind you of the tournament slogan and motto: Honor your Chapter and The Die has been cast. The first reminds us that we are not at the feast to represent just ourselves, but you are there as the champions of our homes. Our behavior, particularly at the table, reflects upon those we have been chosen to fight for. The second reminds that fate is fickle, and the dice ultimately have the final say in our tabletop endeavours. Knowing this makes the tough breaks easier to take, makes us grateful for good fortune, and gives us the resolve to persevere in the face of bad circumstances. Because the dice decide. We did not choose those words idly, or just because they sounded cool. We chose them to set a standard for our conduct; An expectation for all who wish to compete.
It is important to remember that all of this was thought about because of what someone else told me about the community. I wish conclude this line of thinking by exhorting those in the community to play their games, and see them through to the end. Not playing robs you of important things, such as the lessons you can learn playing down, and cheats your opponent of the glory that comes from winning a hard fought struggle. Shame those that quit out of anger or spite. Encourage those that quit out of despair. And never let yourself quit fighting for the win. It's a character thing.
- Dragoon 6