Question of the Week #315

Would you rather play a game with someone less or more skilled than you? Would your answer be different if others were watching?

I think it depends on the game.

If we’re talking about a video game, I prefer to play against someone who knows less about what they’re doing than me. But that’s incredibly unlikely to happen unless we’re going head-to-head in an old school Super Mario Bros. contest of some kind. If we’re talking about a modern fighting game like the newest versions of Mortal Kombat, I’m likely to be on the low end of the skill spectrum.

But it’s always more satisfying to win a video game against someone, even if they don’t know what they’re doing.

On the other hand, if it’s a sport like tennis, I’d almost rather play someone who’s better than me. I mean, I don’t want to play someone who’s globally ranked, in which I’d have no chance to return a serve even on my best day. But I’d prefer to play someone who’s at least slightly better than me. Because I always felt like that’s how I improved back when I was actually playing tennis.

Wait… I never actually played tennis competitively. I only ever played for fun with friends during college. But it was always the kind of thing where we were all around the same skill level and were continually getting better by playing each other. As it is, I haven’t picked up a racket in about 10 years. I miss it… I’d try to play again, but I really need to get into a different kind of shape than I’m in currently if I’m ever to play again.

What about you? Do you prefer to play against someone better or worse than you? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments!

*The Question of the Week can be found in The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

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