Alright, I know, TTRPGs and board games are not sports, but the same principles on the field apply at the table. Ever since I was a kid, you get told to be a good sport, both in victory and defeat. This should be something we all strive for when playing games with other people (and specifically our friends) otherwise we will be stuck in a spot where no one wants to play with us. While saying “Be a good sport” is easy, how do we actually do it?
The dictionary definition of sportsmanship is fair and generous behavior or treatment of others, especially in a sports contest. An easy way to look at this in a board game or RPG is making sure that each player gets their fair share of spotlight and time. Take Dungeons & Dragons as an example. In a long-form campaign, each player should get their chance to have a character arc, with the spot on them and their backstory. Everyone at the table should respect every player **INCLUDING THE DM**’s time, effort, and story.
When it comes to competitive gaming, making sure to respect yourself and your opponent is the key. In victory, it’s alright to celebrate your win, but not at the expense of your opponent. Being respectful, and making sure to say things like “Good Game” can go a long way in softening a defeat and coming across as a gracious victor.
In the same way, when you lose, it is more important to maintain good feelings and not try to degrade your opponent. Acting out or “flipping the board” as it were will make people not want to play with you. I have found that opponents like to return in victory or defeat if you are gracious either way. I take some time after a game of Warhammer 40k to discuss the results in either victory or defeat. I ask my opponent what I can do to improve, and if they have any feedback for how I could improve. This way, win or loss, I try to make sure I make a friend who will want to play with me in the future.
With the holidays coming up and lots of potential for games with friends and family, make sure you respect each other and are good sports, in victory or defeat. Tell us what games you are playing this season in the comments below!