Home | About | Tournament Winning Decklists | Forums

The myth of "I Play To Win"


You won’t catch the plague?


Sure, your point is fair - I should rather generalise my question to ‘when you are playing in real life, do you acknowledge your opponent’s presence, wish them luck, and when the game is concluded, say ‘well played’, or good luck in your next round’, or otherwise. I’m not focussed on the ‘shaking hands’ as much as I am on acknowledging the presence of a worthy opponent. Obviously, most people do this, I’m interested in whether Pizza does or not.


I think @PizzatimePlayer has a point that “glhf” and “gg” are just rote exercises which have lost much of their meaning. I think I am especially sensitive to poor etiquette in online gaming, but I don’t think any less of an opponent who doesn’t type “gg” after a game or doesn’t stick around to chat. I think the discussion of proper etiquette is less interesting than the discussion about the original article that started this thread though.

I’ve encountered a lot of the “win at all costs” mindset playing different games over the years. Sometimes people take it too far and cheat to win, but most of the time they simply prioritize winning over things like sportsmanship. The best case for this mentality, and I suspect a reference point for Nate French’s article, is David Sirlin’s “Playing To Win”. Sirlin argues that people let concerns like “not spamming ‘cheap’ moves” and “it’s rude to try to psych your opponent out” get in the way if their primary motivation is winning. He advocates using every tool in your toolkit (ie, the rules of the game, so no cheating) without reservation if winning is your goal. He points out that many people say they want to win, but erect artificial barriers to winning like not playing the best deck because they think it is NPE or overplayed. This is the kind of mentality that leads to strategic fouls in basketball. Theoretically, foul rules are in place to protect players from injury and the game from devolving into a brawl, but in practice, they are a system to be gamed for an advantage.

Practically, I think this mindset doesn’t always work out for the best as explained before:


One interesting point I’ve heard from the sports world is the idea that “winning at all costs” or focusing just on winning only makes sense if the level you are competing at is the highest level you’ll ever attain - otherwise you should just focus on progress and personal growth. The idea is that you want a growth mindset until you reach your potential - then focus on winning. I think the competition will only get better in netrunner since it is such a young game so everyone should be focused on growth over winning.


Again, if one disagrees with me, go with peace. Just don’t play with me again, it’s all good.

For the recurring argument that if the game were played in-person one might shake hands or exchange different pleasantries, I would say the internet just has different etiquettes. For example, if I were to play in person, I would not be slouching in my underwear, half-watching a youtube video, facebook chatting with old friends, reading twitter, ‘privacy browsing’ etc. I would also not be going by a silly nickname.

if I were playing against a guy in his underwear who was watching a youtube video, reading twitter and occasionally ‘privacy browsing’ ending with a handshake would be the least of my concerns.

If you like, say it. It’s all good. But if I don’t, it’s not some passive aggressive, rage-fueled personal attack.

And here is what I find the absolute worst. Some people are so obsessed with the idea that I have metaphorically spit in their face that they come into my next game and start swearing at me or saying horrible things or ranting. No matter your attitude here, losing it on someone long after the game has ended is not very zen.


I wouldn’t mind getting back to the topic of internal motivations and the lies players tell themselves as I feel like we have beaten the “to gg or not to gg”-thing to death.

In poker there is a term called ‘fancy play syndrome’ (aka FPS). Some players get so caught up in the strategy and out-guessing and reading that they sometimes execute overly complicated moves when a simple play would have been best. Even the very best players fall prey to this trap and it can be agonizing to step back and re-evaluate a spot later and admit to yourself that this was the case. Because no one really likes to admit that they have the same egos and flaws that we all have. No one likes to even admit they have an ego but we all do.

I can fall into the FPS trap in Netrunner myself sometimes. Lately, if someone turn 1: install-advance-advance an asset in a naked remote, we all know that it is an NGO 99 percent of the time. But in my head, I think what a good play it would be for it to be something other than an NGO, like an SSL, and waste an important first-turn click checkings it way, way too often. In my heart, I want them to be these crazy tricky players going for the big moves but that is me projecting what I want from the game onto them. FPS.

Understanding your own reasons better is a great thing to do for yourself. Although as anyone who has suffered from insomnia knows, sometimes looking deep within can always get a bit agonizing.