Playing To Win

I play to win. It seems like an obvious statement to make, but the intricacies of this mindset are not well understood. Click on ‘read more’ to find out more about the playing to win ethos.

Most people do not play to win. Most people play for lofty ideals like fairness and balance. To give an example: in Battlefield Bad Company 2, the objective of Rush mode is to destroy the MCom stations (what these are isn’t important). You can do this in two ways. You can “arm” it, which sets off a timer and an alarm that gives the enemy team a chance to disarm before it gets destroyed, or by exploding it with your firepower. There seems to be an unspoken rule that arming it and giving the enemy team a chance to disarm is the “proper” way to win. This makes the game “fair.”

Most people adhere to this unspoken rule in BC2–until their life tickets start dwindling down. With the prospect of losing looming, enemies will have a collective ‘fuck it’ and try all sorts of explosive ammunitions tactics. When defending against mortar strikes, C4s and grenades, the game becomes a nightmare for defenders. However, it gets the job done for the attackers.

In this situation, the defending team usually starts making comments about the other team’s “lack of skill” and their “cheap tactics”. But what use does maintaining virtual honor have if it means you lose? Its a tough concept to accept. I personally hate it when people start exploding the MComs, though I realize it is a perfectly legitimate tactic.

I see this conflict in everything I play. When playing a 4 player match in Brawl, it is good etiquette to leave players with less lives than everyone else alone; to not gang up on people who are stuck in the middle; and to not interrupt people who are dueling in their own little corner. Classics like Street Fighter often have players who do not take kindly to corner-rape, “hadotrap”, or players who crouch fierce punch on enemies that jump in. The list goes on and on.


When you are defeated by one of these “cheap” tactics, who is reflected on poorly: the person who could not respond adequately to the problem at hand, or the person that took advantage of a weakness? How does a person that won have less skill than the person that lost?

It should be clarified that I am also assuming there is no giant game breaking mechanic that is taken advantage of. While I can recognize the validity of taking advantage of a weakness, I also recognize that sometimes the gameplay or mechanics are not properly tuned. In this case it makes sense to argue against cheap tactics.

Nonetheless, what purpose do all these contrived make-believe rules play except to hinder the use of legitimate tactics to win? They might not be “nice,” but if you want someone to be kind to you then perhaps you should go consult your mother: she can help!


  1. Brendan

    If every game website has at least one PTW article, I will be happy. Bravo!

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