Tuesday, July 30, 2013

King Me

Most of the time when people think of someone who plays games, they think of someone who cheats. While this is sometimes true because the secret carrying-on of two or several relationships takes strategy, I don't think it would be fair to limit a true Game Player to this one form of manipulation. I think that the most prevalent and annoying form of game playing happens in conversation, and I think that their victims would agree with me when they really stop to think about it.

When I was on-line dating I used to see this on people's profiles all the time - a huge disclaimer that said "Does not want someone who plays games." And you know what they're talking about when they say that, you know that they're not saying "Does not want someone who plays Scrabble" or "Clue" or "WiiFit." They mean manipulative slimeballs. 

This kind of disclaimer would be terribly offensive for any other group of people. Like if it were common to say "Does not want someone named Helen" then Helens would be very sad, feel oppressed, and maybe start a support group about it. But Game Players are not deterred by this, oh no, they see that warning "Does not want someone who plays games," and they think, "Well, I'll just have to work my way around that." (Note: this attitude also works for Helens.)

So let's say that you're dating on-line. You could either be looking for a man or a woman but let's just say for our example here today, you're looking for a man. And in all honestly, speaking as someone who has dated both men and women, Game Players pretty much work the same no matter what gender they are. So, you've made it clear that you don't want ANY manipulative game players by wearing a T-shirt in your profile picture that says, "Nogameplayo-sexual." But this only attracts Game Players more, and so now you've found someone who you think is a nice guy, and he has made whatever moves he must make to get into your life. You are in a relationship. Though you never would have thought of this man as a manipulative game player, you're beginning to notice certain things, and really, you should have seen this coming because he has a skinny mustache that curls up wickedly at the tips, and wears a top hat and a cape. But you've been looking past this to the beauty inside of him until one day you notice that he wins every argument you ever have. An example of an argument that you recently lost was this:

You're getting into the car to go shopping for a new pair of shoes. You've been planning this since yesterday. As he slides into the driver's seat, he says, "Do you mind if we make a quick stop first?"

"No. Where?"

"I need a new evil cape. It won't take me long. And it's close to the shoe store."

"Well, I have to meet my mother at-"

"I'll drive fast. Won't take long."

"Can you just drop me off at the shoe store then and I'll shop while you shop?"

"But I want you to be with me. We're supposed to spend the day together."

"True, but-"

"And," he grins. "Don't you want to help me pick out something sexy?"

"I trust your taste."

His curly mustache unfurls with his frown. "This cape is for us. Not me - US. If you don't want to be part of us, that's fine. Go get your shoes and I'll shop alone."

You sigh and give in. And then you realize that you've agreed to do something that you don't want to do, that was not discussed at any point up until now, and that you don't know how to tell him that all of his capes make him look fat.

After three hours of cape shopping comes the next type of argument that Game Players always win, and that is "Arguments that Should Really Just Be Discussions." The discussion that you lost that afternoon went like this:

You: I'm hungry.

Him: No, you're not.

Nothing is as plain that you are with a Game Player than when they argue with a statement that is an inarguable fact, and STILL WIN.

"I'm hungry."

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am! It's noon! I skipped breakfast! Besides, I shouldn't even have to explain this. I know I'm hungry when I'm hungry, how do you know that I'm not?"

He looks hurt. "Why don't you tell me how you really feel?"

And this gets you every time, especially this afternoon. Because are you feeling something besides hungry? Yes! You're pissed at him and yourself for not having a new pair of shoes! And you're in the car with a bag full of new capes with this jerk who reminds you of an annoying kid that you used to play checkers with who would move a piece to the end of the board and yell "King me! King me! Ha HA! I'm BEATING you!" and you're hungry and you're barefoot, and goddamn it, Helen, you're not going to take it anymore!

So here's what you do. Roll the conversation again.

"I'm hungry."

"No, you're not."

"I'm going to eat your cape."

"Hey! That's new, get that out of your mouth!"


"That's an $80 cape!"

RIP! "Five dollars now."

"You're crazy!"

"And hungry. Drop me off at McDonald's."

He swerves over. Congratulations! You are single and have lunch!

So readers, see what Helen did there? She didn't argue with him. Because you will not win an argument with a Game Player, you can only eat their cape and go.

But if you feel that you must win the argument, then you have to know their winning strategy. Game Players play on your insecurities and fears. Your best defense, therefore, is to have a solid view of yourself. Sounds simple enough, unless you have low self-esteem. Helen will prove this point for us in the following example:

Helen and Todd are sitting at the table reading the paper. Helen lowers the comics and says to him, "I think I'd like to take up photography."

"You have no eyeballs," says Todd from behind his paper.

"Yes, I do."

"How do you know? Sure, you see them in the mirror, but what if everything you think you see is just a projection of your imagination because you can't bear the fact that you have no eyes?

"That's ridiculous."

"Prove me wrong."

Helen thinks about it.

"You can't, can you?" he says.

"No, but that doesn't make you right."

"True, but it means that if I am right and you buy a camera you'll look like a fool, a fool with no eyes, and I love you too much to let that happen."

Helen, who suffers from poor self-esteem, is now only aware of the fact that Todd said, "I love you" and tells herself that even though he's a little nuts it's sweet of him to care.

(Fast forward Helen's life two years, add one nervous breakdown, lots of therapy in the aftermath, some self-realization, and a steady yoga routine.)

Confident Helen and Todd are having breakfast and reading the paper.

"I think I'd like to take up photography," says Helen.

"But you don't have-"

"Your chair's on fire."


Helen, with her keen ever-present eyeballs, lit the fire while he read his paper, thus distracting him long enough so that she was able to slip off to the camera store. Win!

But do you always win an argument with a Game Player by starting fires? No. Arguments with Game Players can also be won by the following methods:

1) Point out their own fears and insecurities. "Todd, you should get over your fear that if I have a hobby outside of our relationship I'll leave you."

2) Play on their fears and insecurities. "Todd, I'm leaving you."

3) Freak them out. "Todd, I started that fire with my eyeballs."

Now you are ready. Go forth and fight the fighters. 

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