I have the miserable fate of being someone who loves games but hates losing. I am sure I knew my destiny early, tipping a Candyland board and throwing a feverish tantrum just to demand a rematch a few minutes later. The next thirty-odd years of my life would follow the same pattern, though I learned in time to only play games I’ve got a pretty good chance of winning. Stratego, Chess, and Backgammon are fine as long as my opponent isn’t actually a former state champion. Monopoly, Risk, and anything involving cards and coins are my inevitable doom. In Scrabble I draw my cutlass and take no prisoners. I spent more all-nighters in college playing Scrabble than studying, and have a mental laundry list of obsure two-letter words, not to mention a lifelong dream of laying down QUETZALS across two triple word scores and the Z on the double letter score, for something like 266 points (for most people, that’s a respectable score for the entire game.) Of course, the certainty of a victory in Scrabble makes the occasional loss that much harder to take. I got nothing but vowels, I’ll explain as my opponent gloats over a long-waited victory. I had more I’s than a potato farm. I had more A’s than an Oakland baseball reunion. I had more U’s than… um… Well, I had a lot of vowels, is all.
Video games are good because you can be as competitive as you want without annoying anyone that much, since they are (multi-user games and Wii cow races with my wife excepted) games of solitaire. Nobody but me has to suffer if I get so frustrated by the stupid monkey getting between me and the giant spider that I finally switch the thing off mid-death-throes, and nobody but me has to know. Anyway, sword fighting isn’t really my sport. I bet I could beat that monkey in Scrabble.