When I am teaching a new game one of the first things I am asked about are the victory conditions, “tell me what I must do to win!”. Once we know what is expected of us, we can begin to form a plan or strategy to arriving at that point. In all games regardless of whether it’s a cooperative or competitive, worker placement or deck building, table top or digital we need to know the criteria for victory in order to have a chance of success.
As I sat to write this my youngest child asked me to play a game, the game was Guess Who (also by Hasbro). As if to prove my point the first thing he did was to explain to me what I needed to do to win the game.
Our chances of winning any game are greatly diminished if we do not know what conditions will determine if we have won. We might keep playing well after such conditions have been met rather than starting a new game or we may employ a strategy that will meet some conditions other than those required. We may have to change the victory conditions along the way as we understand the journey better which works ok if we are playing a Solo game in life, in community however it can very frustrating in life as it is in game if the Victory conditions keep changing without some form of agreement.
In our life’s game (not the game of life, as this a 1970’s game published by Hasbro) we certainly have goals and objectives and sometimes we will spend time reflecting of these, and some people are very good at forming goals for our lives, developing strategy to complete them. More often than no though we wander about with no idea what the victory conditions for our life might be.
Sometimes we don’t fully understand the game and how to win it until after a first time through, if it is a complex game, we may need to play it multiple times to really grasp the strategy. When applied to life then the frustration of playing the “game” without knowing how to win can be very real, especially when the rules seem to keep changing around us.
There is a great metaphor here for life, whether it’s for communities or our individual lives knowing what “winning” looks like gives a much better chance of achieving it. Establishing clear and effective victory conditions can help us to make a plan to achieve them.
Perhaps one way to do this would be to imagine the words we might use to describe the out come when things have finished. What might the final report look like or (perhaps a little morbidly) how our eulogy might be written or expressed. With a little imagination we might be able to set better goals if we had a better understanding of our hoped for end state.