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Why I Play

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This blog entry finds me in an oddly reflective mood, and rather than waste the moment I thought I'd put it to use.

For those who don't know, and given how open I am about it there probably aren't many, I suffer from bipolar disorder. Most of the time, thanks to medication, you wouldn't know. But there are times when things get a little beyond my ability to control them, and the upshot is normally mood swings from misery and depression, up to moments of hyperactivity and mania, and then back again. This can be accomplished during my commute to work. It can also happen during games. 

One trigger I've found has been pressure. I work in a high-pressure job and domestic circumstances aren't exactly stable. Gaming, and Malifaux in particular, has been my safety valve, my way of blowing off steam. I love playing in events, talking rubbish with like-minded people and flipping cards.

Lately though, I've been piling the pressure on myself. I've been so hell-bent on proving to myself and to others that I'm actually not just a noisy chump, that I can actually play this game. And if things go wrong, as they so often can when you're playing a game as cerebral as Malifaux whilst dealing with a condition like bipolar (no, I can't remove the condition with Rebel Yell - I've tried), that can have mood swing inducing consequences. 

The revelation of today is, what on Earth have I got left to prove to anyone? Why am I pushing myself so hard? 

As I sit here, I've won 4 Malifaux tournaments along with a 2nd and a 3rd place in two others. I've been ranked in the UK top 10 for over 10 months, and for probably 6 of those I had a badge next to my name telling all and sundry that I was the best Guild player in the country. I have numerous certificates and plaques for best in faction. Even as my own worst critic, it's hard to argue that I just got lucky once or twice. To have that much success would indicate that I'm not entirely terrible at this game.

So... Why am I still going all out to prove something that I've already demonstrated? I'm being an idiot. I have enough tin cups, certificates and BendyBoards glassware that I'm having to clear an additional shelf and I never thought in my wildest dreams that would ever happen. 

The moment that sank in earlier this morning, it really did feel like a weight came off my shoulders. I know that if the stars align and my head's in the right place, I can put together enough good games to take a tilt at winning a tournament. I've done it. 6 times, in fact. 

My proudest achievement is that, sitting in amongst the prizes for playing well, are two sportsmanship trophies. It would appear that even whilst going for the win, I can still make sure my opponents have a good time playing against me. In my local meta there are an awful lot of new players and I'm discovering that the kick I get out of showing new people the game, and helping and coaching them if they want me to, rivals those tournament-winning moments.

So that's what I'm going to be focussing on. Having fun. Enjoying myself. Playing what I want to play at that moment instead of running particular crews out of an imagined duty to do better at the next tournament. And above all else, helping as many people as possible have the same fun I've had.

It feels good to win. It feels even better to help others win.

I said in my last blog entry that I'll be playing Gremlins next year. That's true. I definitely will be. But I'll also be playing Arcanists. And Guild. Probably Outcasts. Possibly Neverborn. Maybe even 10 Thunders.

But not Ressers. I have some standards...


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Some great thoughts and reflections there.  I wish you good fortune with your shift in priorities and your games in the upcoming year. <raises a shot of Gremlin 'shine in your honor>


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