When Games Matter is a weekly exploration by Drew Dixon of meaningful moments in games. Operating under the assumption that games do in fact matter, Drew seeks to highlight those moments that have much to say about who we are and the world we live in.
I recently started playing Frozen Synapse thanks to a friend who gave me a free copy. It’s basically a mix between Words With Friends and Rainbow Six. Its like Words with Friends in that you play your “turn” on your own time, and like Rainbow Six in that you have a squad that you give tactical commands to in order to take your opponent down. Frozen Synapse has a campaign that I haven’t touched, but the real feature is its multiplayer component. You and your opponent issue commands to your squad and once commands have been issued on both sides both commands are carried out simultaneously. It’s a game of anticipating your opponents moves while placing your squad in tactically superior positions.
I lost the very first match I played only to go on a small winning streak of 2-3 games. When I play games with friends online, I expect to lose the first few matches, so when I was able to produce a few wins so early in my experience with the game, I started thinking I must be pretty smart. That feeling quickly dissipated when I started a few matches with some more seasoned FS players. In one game my entire squad was wiped out in the first turn. I made some obvious mistakes in that game but I was also left wondering how I could possibly be so terrible at this game.
In my next two matches, I played the first two turns only to see the majority of my squad go down. Around this same time, my wife went into labor and gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Evenlyn Jane! Consequently, I shelved Frozen Synapse for a while. Doing so didn’t bother me in the least as my daughter obviously takes precedence and I was being outclassed anyway. However, now things are calming down a bit. My wife and I have gotten into something of an evening routine with the new baby. FS is the type of game that doesn’t require much of a time commitment as you submit your turn on your time, so I don’t really have any good excuse for not finishing these games. I haven’t submitted a turn in quite some time, not because of my daughter but because of my own pride. I don’t want to finish out games that I am confident are going to end in utter failure.
I know I should finish these games – it’s the right thing to do as I have essentially already been defeated and am willfully withholding victory from friends who have rightfully earned it. I am not sure whether I will take to playing Frozen Synapse regularly, but at least this experience has pointed out how sore a loser I can be. I plan to finish these games. I think “rejoicing with those who rejoice” certainly applies here (Rom. 12:15) even if it means further humiliation on my end.