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ShadesPath wrote

Competitive play involves both players adopting a mutually exclusive goal within the context of the game, which is why it makes sense to describe such play as competitive.

Yes...

And the fact that this is frequently done in a way that effectively accomplishes the shared goal of "mutual enjoyment" is evidence of the fact that competition is perfectly capable of being constructive & beneficial to everyone involved.

No. In order for competitive play to work towards everyone's enjoyment, everyone has to actively work for that mutual enjoyment. Competition, on its own, is never fun but competing knowing that everyone is following the same set of rules and is actively trying to make things enough of a challenge to help each other improve and increase the quality of their win or loss is what what makes the competition fun.

If you don't believe me, think about what happens when someone cheats, makes up new rules or changes them, becomes hyper-competitive, selfish in their play, toxic, starts throwing, etc. All of a sudden, the competition is no longer fun, is it? The competition itself hasn't changed. If you're in race for example, the race hasn't changed and the competition of it hasn't, but you guys are no longer working together to make it fun enough to be worth it with the additional effect of the competition now being harmful to either one or both of you either physically or otherwise. Competition, in order for it to be healthy and positive, requires cooperation between all parties, ultimately making it a cooperative effort in and of itself.

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masque wrote (edited )

Competition, on its own, is never fun but competing knowing that everyone is following the same set of rules and is actively trying to make things enough of a challenge to help each other improve and increase the quality of their win or loss is what what makes the competition fun.

"Competition on its own" is not fun, but neither is "cooperation on its own." Competition and cooperation are both abstract categories of behaviour that only become "fun" or "not fun" in specific instantiations. If a particular activity is fun, and both competition and cooperation are inextricable parts of that activity, then why insist that "cooperation is what makes the competition fun" without also acknowledging that "competition is what makes the cooperation fun" in this instance? You seem to be going out of your way to avoid acknowledging that competition can be positive.

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ShadesPath wrote

You seem to be going out of your way to avoid acknowledging that competition can be positive

I'm not avoiding acknowledging that competition can be positive. I'm stating outright that by itself it isn't.

Your argument that these are abstract categories of behavior doesn't seem to take into account that they are in fact real behaviors that all sentient living things have engaged in. It's not abstract when animals work together or fight against each other. With that being said, the enjoyment of competition comes from places outside of the competition itself because, intrinsically, there's nothing fun about competing. It requires cooperation to be fun by its very nature. It's never vice versa because the cooperative elements in competitive games are basis for how the competition works. You can't have a fair and fun competition if everyone involved is only concerned with their own victory. In cooperative gaming however, competition is never needed and only ever added for spice because working together never requires us trying to outdo each other.

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masque wrote (edited )

I'm not avoiding acknowledging that competition can be positive. I'm stating outright that by itself it isn't.

Neither is cooperation "by itself," though. Only specific instances of "competition" or "collaboration" can be fun, depending on the specific details of the activity. So I don't see why you're singling out competition here.

It's not abstract when animals work together or fight against each other.

"Competition" is an abstract category of behaviour, which can see specific concrete instantiations, including animals play fighting or what have you. This has nothing to do with the abstract reasoning abilities of the agents doing the competing. The fact that animals do it has literally nothing to do with whether it's abstract or not.

With that being said, the enjoyment of competition comes from places outside of the competition itself because, intrinsically, there's nothing fun about competing. It requires cooperation to be fun by its very nature.

What about the sort of programmers/hackers who enjoy the ad-blocker-blocker-blocker arms race, or trying to break DRM and so on? That can be fun for at least one of the participants, despite being truly adversarial in terms of everyone's ultimate goals. Of course, the ad-blocker-blocker-blocker arms race is not really a good thing, nor is anyone involved primarily motivated by fun, but my point is that it undermines the claim that competition cannot give rise to fun in a non-cooperative setting.

I acknowledge that competition is not inherently fun, but neither is cooperation. Both can be components of a fun experience. Trying to argue about which specific component of a fun experience is the source of the fun seems like the wrong way of thinking about things.

Also, focusing on "fun" ignores other ways in which competition can potentially be positive (e.g. by helping people benchmark & clearly measure their progress in various athletic/creative endeavours, providing positive feedback that encourages further self-improvement).

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ShadesPath wrote

Also, focusing on "fun" ignores other ways in which competition can potentially be positive (e.g. by helping people benchmark & clearly measure their progress in various athletic/creative endeavours, providing positive feedback that encourages further self-improvement).

There is nothing that competition does that individual achievement or cooperation doesn't do save for excelling at creating ire between people. If you want to open up another pandora's box of a conversation, we can go into how useless and inefficient competition is but I feel like that should be saved for another thread.

Honestly though, if you want proof of my point, read this entire comment section. Being competitive in our argumentation has done nothing positive for nobody here but most definitely has negatively impacted the discourse, to the degree that OP felt like healthy discussion has been thrown out the window. Even just between me and you, I certainly won't come away from this discussion any better for it, not for any fault of yours of course but rather the nature of our discussion thus far. Like this comment was supposed to be longer to address your arguments but I realized that my tone was hostile so I deleted most of it because, by the end of the day, you aren't going to suddenly change your views, I won't, and we aren't really doing the original article any justice arguing points back and forth. I only kept the one counterpoint to transition into this paragraph.

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masque wrote

I certainly won't come away from this discussion any better for it, not for any fault of yours of course but rather the nature of our discussion thus far.

I think it's possible that, in the process of formulating arguments, one or both of us may have better clarified our own understanding of our position.

Ultimately, I just don't think it makes sense to characterize the negative outcomes of bad instances of competition as arising from "competition itself" while simultaneously denying that any positive outcomes from competitive situations come from "competition itself." But I guess the disagreement here is abstract enough to not really matter in the grand scheme of things, so I might as well stop arguing.

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