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  • Writer's pictureDana Webster

Game Time by Mary Johnson

Hi everyone! Dana here. It's time for another guest blog post. This week Time To Write reader, Mary Johnson, writes to us about games, and winning ... or not. Enjoy!

I loved playing games when I was a child. I remember playing Hop Scotch, Musical Chairs, Duck, Duck Goose and Doggie, Doggie, Who’s Got Your Bone. The urge to win seemed to be a part of me at a very early age. I wanted to win.

I didn’t get anything for winning these games. I just “got it” in my little child brain. By grade school, I was very involved in competitive games. I remember that I raced out at recess and hoped to play marbles or dodgeball or something that I could win. Winning mattered. It wasn’t a long term win. I might lose at the next recess but it was a personal feeling of achievement. I WON!!!!

As I got older, the school started Intramural sports teams and we either played or watched the games. I wanted my team to win. If I was playing, I wanted to make our team win. Everyone on the team was part of the greater whole. We wanted to win!!

I think that I started to watch the Toronto Maple Leaf hockey games at birth. Wednesday Night and Saturday Night seemed to begin with the music that belonged to my team. Back in the day, it was fine to be on the Leaf’s side. The memory of their 1967 Stanley Cup was recent. I believed that they could win. Winning was exciting. I cheered. I yelled at the TV. If we were lucky enough to get tickets, I would yell until I had no voice. I wanted my team, full of my players, to win. It was personal.

On vacation, games were always part of the plan. It might have been playing a game such as Ramoli, Monopoly or a myriad of card games. I remember this phase very well because I hated to lose and games became really, really competitive. It was great fun for a while and then, well, someone had to lose and I didn’t want it to be me. (I suspect the word sore loser was said behind my back, to my face and inside my own brain but I couldn’t help it.)

Society changed and there seemed to be a gentle transition towards non-competitive games. The game boards were big and bright. There were lots of cards and lots of rules. It was supposed to really appeal to people who liked thinking and planning and creating strategy. We were encouraged to be kinder and work together. They were interesting to play but they weren’t really games. They were more like a drama that had a solution.

Over time, I began to look forward to weekends where we would play new Non-Competitive Games. The Non-Competitive Game industry has done really well with games such as Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, Catan and so many others. No matter who was there, these games allowed a group of people the opportunity to show their abilities to work with you to solve a big situation. It was such a positive feeling. There are no losers. The end of the game allowed everyone to think back and plan their strategy for the next game. The game Pandemic became an instant success and we were all eager to solve it. Imagine if the game Pandemic was played by the politicians before Covid arrived? (I digress)

I had been lulled in to the belief that I was not competitive any more. I hadn’t played a competitive game in at least 10 years so I must be cured. I believed that I didn’t need to win. I truly believed that I would be a much better human if I played a competitive game now. I was wrong.

One rainy summer day at the cottage someone uncovered a large stash of dusty old games that could be purged or, oh yes, played. We found Monopoly, Yahtzee, Clue, Ramoli and the list just goes on. There was still a caution bell that went off in my brain when I saw Monopoly. I wasn’t quite ready for that level of competitiveness. I felt I could play Yahtzee with no worries. The papers and pencils were given out. The dice were thrown and it felt so good. I was right. It was fun. It produced laughter and groans. I didn’t win but I had fun. I was a grown up. I didn’t need to win.

Next, we played Clue. I love mysteries and we had such fun with the game. We relaxed and just played. We played several times because we had fun. We spent the entire evening basking in the past and really enjoying the memory of a game well played. I won once but Victory was not such a big deal. I really had grown up.

I was so content with the knowledge that I could enjoy a board game, any game, even if I did not win.

Around that time, I was introduced to a new game that was just a little competitive. The game was Wordle. The game would involve the computer and me. It was fun. Now, what is a 5- letter word that might be the word that the computer has chosen??? I discovered that my competitiveness was waking up. I really wanted to get that word. My friends were posting their results on Facebook and they were getting the word. I really enjoyed the happy competition. Maybe I was able to enjoy all games now.

And then, one rainy weekend, someone pulled down the Monopoly game. It looked so harmless in the box. It was a vintage memory. I wasn’t even scared. I felt the day had arrived when I could play Monopoly.

The board game was set out. Ah, the memories. How funny the property prices were now. How strange to see the price of utility payments. Everyone laughed and agreed that those were the good old days. The pieces were in place. The dice was thrown. My friend moved her piece and was able to buy a property. I was ok. My next friend threw the dice and also bought a property.

My childhood was beginning to resurface. It was my turn and I landed on their property and paid my fine. I knew, logically, that being third almost guaranteed that I would lose. I knew it and yet, I was annoyed. I managed to get a few properties and I felt a strange surge of glee. I collected some fees and I managed to get a few utilities along the way. The problem with Monopoly is time. If everyone has enough properties, the game can go on forever.

Just when I was believing that my chances were good, my competitors upped their games by buying houses. I was getting very close to running out of cash. I was no longer having fun. Due to time, the game had to end. My competitors went home without much thought about their elevated status. For me, I was glad the game ended when it did. It turns out that I still want to win.

Maybe I will become non-competitive when I grow up.

Who's Mary?

Mary Johnson has been a Teacher and a Program Co-Ordinator of Edithvale Tiny Tots and Afternoon Adventures for many years. Due to covid restrictions, Mary has taken a break from this career and is eagerly awaiting the next opportunity.

Her favourite hobbies are telling stories to children and creating stories that incorporate their favourite things.

Mary enjoys gardening, hiking, boating and cottaging.

Her favourite activity is always spending time with her family.

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