Our weekly Family Nights became almost liturgical during my 16th year, for me anyway. Uncle Oliver too, because we talked about it more than once.
The unofficial kickoff for the Man/Sha Cooperative began over a family dinner on Labor Day weekend. Mom, as always, with one of her “Imagine” scenarios.
“Imagine you are playing an intricately complex game on the X-box by yourself. You win the game when you have vanquished all your enemies and solved all the puzzles. You are in complete control of all available resources and values. However, as much as you play by the rules, check to be sure you have explored every available option, researched all possible short-cuts, you cannot make any progress. You always lose your battles and you never solve a problem in the time allotted before arriving in the “loser” category.”
“At this point, are you playing a game, or do you imagine yourself more “analyzing” the game?”
I saw her trap coming my way. “You are either still playing by trying to figure out a primary problem or you are figuring out how to return it.” I offered.
“Are you having fun yet? Is this still playing a game?”
“Decreasingly so over time.” Oliver offers.
“Agreed. So, now imagine just the opposite. No matter what you do, you win. No matter how badly you try to lose a battle, how deliberately you give an obviously inadequate response to a problem, you always end up on top. Like playing Solitaire and the cards are always cooperative. You never have a card show up that you can’t use somewhere that’s open. How long does this remain a game? When does it begin feeling like some kind of empty ritualistic behavior?”
“Increasingly so over time.” again, redundantly, from Oliver, who appears to be losing interest.
“OK, stay with me. Here’s where this exercise might bring some payoff. Going back to the losing scenario. If you got together with your gaming friends and all of you had the same experience, you would probably figure this isn’t a “real” game. It doesn’t work. Yes?”
“But, what about the always winning non-game? Any point in getting together with your friends to play that game?”
“You could turn it into a race, either competitively, if you had multiple decks of cards, for simultaneous Solitaire.” from Other Mom.
“Or,” I pitched in “if you were playing on a computer you could figure out how to team play against the clock.”
“Good. So, again, which do you imagine would give all of you the highest learning and play values over the longest period of time?”
“Maybe some back and forth would last the longest. Start with side by side, some cooperative competition against the clock. Take that experience and try ways to play as a team until you find the interaction strategy that optimizes your Team’s performance efficiency.”