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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Davidson


It’s over.

You’ve sized-up the scene. You’ve crunched all the numbers. You’ve done all of the evaluations.

You, my friend, are not going to win this game. It is much worse than all that. Not only are you not going to win, but your game will end with you with your score not even in the same zip code as your friends. And, to add insult to injury, the game is only half over.

Hopelessness. Despair. It’s quite a daunting feeling. Your body floods with absolute weakness. We’ve all experienced the wet blanket of hopelessness, whether in our personal lives or at the gaming table. Hopelessness—the inability to dominate a situation, to impact elements towards a favorable outcome—can be experienced, by some, daily.

Well, my humble reader, I have good news and bad news.

The good news is that games allow us moments of hopelessness (not that we ever ask for them, right?); to teach ourselves how to deal with heavy emotion, develop coping skills, and understand that there is an order to how we all (individually and uniquely) process our feelings. Some individuals have no tools in their emotional tool belt and begin to cope by giving up on the game, perhaps showing attitude, or, in extreme cases, knock the table over, ruining the game entirely for the other players. As we grow and continue to play games, cognition is involved. We learn how to identify and process these emotions. With encouragement from our friends saying, “you’ll do better next time” or “your score has improved since last game. You’re getting better. Great job!”

Games give us these emotions to deal with in a non-serious setting (because, after all, it is just a game. The Monopoly money is not real money…thank goodness). Games allow us to practice experiencing all the emotions, good and bad. And yet, at the end of the day, we get to go home and not have any significant aspect of our real lives affected.

The bad news is that feeling hopelessness—in a game or real life—will always be a part of the human condition. There is no John Dillinger escape plan for this emotion. However, by playing games, we can become acclimated to a negative emotion such as hopelessness and learn healthy ways to process it. Does this mean we won’t ever go home from a long day and feel despair? No. Of course not. The difference is what we choose to do with ourselves when we raise our heads from the tear-soaked pillowcase.

Be good, be kind, be intrepid.


What do you do when you feel hopeless?

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