If You Can’t Win, Then Get in a Fight, or Cheat

In a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. residents, 20 percent say that their game nights with friends or family members are often or always disrupted by competitive or unfriendly behavior. Typical antics include someone quitting because they’re losing (46%), someone accusing another player of cheating (44%), two or more players getting into an argument (44%), and 11 percent of respondents said they’ve witnessed a physical fight break out.

These occurrences have consequences; 22 percent of the respondents have banned certain games (Monopoly is the most banned game), and another 22 percent have had to ban a particular player from their game nights.

Another interesting stat from the survey is that Gen Z respondents are also more likely to prefer games where they work with a team against other teams (38%)., while 48 percent of Boomers prefer to compete on their own against other players. Count me not only as a boomer, but someone who would prefer to play a game as an individual.

And while the pandemic may have prevented people from physically getting together for game nights, there was only a 13-percent decrease in game nights last year due to the rise in remote game nights. Half the respondents also said that remote games are either just as or more fun than in-person ones.

Winning is an important reason for playing games for 41 percent of respondents, while only 29 percent are actively concerned with “beating everyone else.” I admit that I would be in that 41 percent.  that high number. Despite that focus on winning, 75% of respondents report that winning isn’t nearly as important as the number one reason for playing games with others: having fun. And I would agree with that as well.

But there does seem to be a disconnect.

If 75% of those surveyed say the number one reason for having a game night is to have fun, why do 44% of them end up in an argument?

Seems like a strange way to have fun…

I came across this poll today, and the timing was quite coincidental. I was watching an episode of King of Queens today, and it was about how Carrie couldn’t stop cheating when they got together with their friends for game night. Apparently, the reason for her behavior can be traced back to her childhood:

92 thoughts on “If You Can’t Win, Then Get in a Fight, or Cheat

  1. I don’t remember ever getting into an argument over a board game. Not even as a child. Yeah, I like to win, but I don’t really care if I lose a game. It’s a frigging game after all. People really need to get over themselves and learn to have fun 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Games like Risk and Diplomacy where you make alliances with other players to eliminate opponents until one is left could be very destructive to family relationships. You end up with one happy player and six unhappy ones. Some people found it difficult to separate the game from real life. I now realize it was very much a part of real life. If alcohol and/or betting is involved, you are inviting fights!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I become a different person when I play a board game. You wouldn’t recognize me. Gone is the easy-going, ubrane, congenial, Tippy Gnu. Enter the Tasmanian Devil. I play to win. But if I don’t win, I don’t flip the board, or storm out, shouting and pouting. No, I just sit there silently, quietly plotting my strategy for revenge in the next game. And maybe I secretly buy a book on winning strategies. And I practice during alone times. And in my monomania, I find a way to beat the pants off anybody who ever dares to compete against me again.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I played a lot of games with my siblings as a kid. I rarely won. But I think that was because my brother was the cheat or perhaps just an opportunist. He taught me poker then proceeded to win all my allowance. He is now a millionaire.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m somewhat the same way. I like to win, and if I don’t, I try not to show my disappointment, but inside it bothers me for a while (but not a few days!)

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      1. Despite knowing I’m far from perfect, I have serious perfection issues! But there are times when I can let go and have fun, even glorifying my failures. Just not with board games.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This seems ridiculous though I’m not questioning the results. I’m wondering how you can cheat or accuse someone of cheating in Monopoly. I can’t see what potential controversy can occur there.

    We’re on a family reunion right now, and we often play games in the evening. There is a lot of laughter, and people want to win, but cheating? That’s pretty lame.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. not that I’ve done it, but you could steal cash, sneak in an extra hotel to your property, not move the correct number of spaces when you roll the dice. I’m not sure if it had the most cheating simply because it is one of the most widely played games.

      And I enjoy game nights as well; glad you are having fun at your reunion!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. i was in a game of risk where someone got very upset and stormed off when losing. shocking. when i teach the kinder to play candyland, we always talk about playing fair and not being upset it you’re not the first to get to the candy castle and win. sadly, some adults have a much harder time of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I have often wondered why we measure our personal success in the winning of a game that involves chance. Any game where cards are dealt, die rolled, or a pointer spun, involves some modicum of chance, but when we lose or win we think it was some great feat of skill. I am a competitor by nature and I like to win, but I don’t have to win to prove anything.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I love games days and nights with my family. It’s the best fun. The only game I ever banned was one called Minotaur Maze. It’s an old game. I don’t know if it’s still around. My hub and I, and then our children, were keen Scrabble players. We kept a record of all our games, the players, the scores, the seven-letter words. We weren’t agressively competitive, just enjoyed collecting the data. Back in the days before children, my hub and I played against my sister. She probably wasn’t as keen a player as we were and wasn’t aware of all the possible 2-letter words (there are even more now when we play the digital game Words With Friends). When Hub played just one more 2-letter word, she upended the board and finished the game. While it’s probably never been mentioned to her again, it has entered folklore in my own little family. 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thatnks for sharing that story – so much for a fun game night. But I can see the frustration growing if you play Scrabble and you don’t know all the two-letter words. I don’t know any of them, except the basic ones, so I would probably get frustrated as well.

      We also enjoy game nights…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We enjoy it. I only play a couple of people, but Hub plays as many as he can and is always looking for new players. Many of them are in the US. Let me know if you’d like to challenge him. You’d have to be lucky though as oftentimes he is at the full number of games possible.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. I love board games and we used to play as a family when I was growing up. It was all about having fun and there were many in-jokes. I remember dating a chap where the whole family were competitive, even with conversations and I found it exhausting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. we grew up playing a card game known as Pinochle. I think it was every Sunday night once we were old enough, and I only have fond memories of it. We have had many game nights with our kids when they were younger. That does seem a little overboard with the competitive family…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t know Pinochle, Jim, and it’s lovely that you have happy memories like this. You have reminded me that my ex.husband and I used to play Backgammon and Scrabble and then games together as our daughter grew up. Xx

        Liked by 1 person

  10. We used to have a lot of board games when I was a kid, and my parents used them to encourage us to compete, but fairly. Being a good winner as well as a good loser was the message. I love that clip – not a series I’ve ever seen, but it explains a lot of politicians…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My husband and I are competitive but we do remain friends, even after one of us loses. 😄
    Back when my friend and I shared an apartment, we had many Monopoly marathons. I may have thrown the board a couple times. Haha! We are still competitive today when we play games,but we do have fun with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My family loves games and half the fun is the competition. My sisters and I are only allowed to bowl against each other because the trash talking, competitive insanity that comes out. Other people don’t mind that part as much as the fact we are all equivalently terrible at it. No one ever breaks 100, and we’re always within a pin of each other. But that’s what makes it so much fun. The competitive, argumentative, sore loser and more sore winner aspect knowing that no matter how hard we try, bumpers couldn’t even help 🤣😂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes. But like I said, no one will bowl with us. 😂 in other games, no matter who is playing, the competition gets very animated and loud. My entire extended family are extremely competitive by nature. But one lesson was drilled into all of us from birth: family is family and a game is just a game. There have been times where games triggered massive explosive responses (no one has ever tossed a board for fear of losing the pieces), but shoving has occurred. Name calling, glasses of water thrown in faces. All of it. But at the end of the game, hugs, laughter, and the rediculousness of the outburst becomes fodder for constant gentle ribbing, sometimes even surpassing that night. The person who had the flip-out knows that this is the generally accepted consequence of acting like a nut case. The worst one I can remember was a game of Chutes and Ladders. It is nearly impossible to get upset because someone didn’t land on a chute. What causes the argument is when you’re both in the middle of the board, one hits a chute and ends up a few squares from start while the other hits a ladder and ends up a few from the end. But that’s mostly about whining about luck. Except when the “adults” joined in. Omg! They were worse than the “kids!” (I use quotes because now all are adults, and there is a new generation of those that are actually kids). My father and his best friend are super competitive. In a game of chutes and ladders, they got so annoyed with each other that his friend threw The remote at my dad, and my father retaliated by biting him in the leg. Yes. That’s commitment to a dumb game. They are still friends. Going on 50 years. The competitive streak is still there, but the biting has stopped because of age. Another time that same friend jumped out of a car and missed his knee replacement because he went to the library as they were arguing in route whether or not Alchemists are scientists. They would do anything for each other, but when they get competitive, the rest of us just move away and pull out the popcorn because it gets INSANE! 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. wow – and I thought I was competitive! Your family brings it to a whole other level! But as you said, as long as everyone remains friends, perhaps it’s no harm, no foul…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Nah, they see how we are right away and they join in. Sometimes they back out to just watch because they can’t quite handle the intensity, but by the second time around they are right in the thick of it. Because it really is all fun and games in the end

        Liked by 1 person

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