Collaborative vs Destructive Cooperative Games

My conjecture is that most games of a competitive nature can be played out as either collaborative or destructive games. In the first case, both parties collaborate in a competitive environment to bring out the best in each other in creating a best possible game experience. While in the other case, each party sees as its winning strategy to counter the opposition.

Both ways are valid, in the sense that both lead to a realization of the goal of winning the game. But in my experience, the collaborative approach is preferable in my enjoyment of the games.

In fact, one of my favourite games, the board game Go/weiqi, has a nickname of “hand dialogue”. A successful game has the feel of both players carving out the end position, much like a sculptor discovering the hidden statue in a block of marble. Even loosing such a game is a good feeling, as the process of getting to the end state has been productive and allowed the players to use their best abilities to construct a viable strategy, and a solid framework.

Playing against people using destructive tactics feels completely opposite. Every beautiful shape is destroyed, and the board ends up as a twisted mess of intertwined failures. In the end, the final state can not come soon enough to put me out of my misery.

I feel the same playing StarCraft 2 as well. At least in the Bronze League, where I dwell, the abundance of “cheese” is apparent, in that 6 pools, cannon rushes, and drone rushes are to be expected rather than being the exception. Having lost a number of games to these tactics, I of course become more adept at dealing with them. And overall my win-rate have improved dramatically when being able to counter these low-level destructive tactics.

But is it so that a beautiful strategy is always superior to a destructive one? Destruction is much easier, and as such should require less skill from the player. But a constructive strategy will have no more value than a pretty sunset, if it can not deal with the harsh realities of life.

So I guess in a sense there is a fluid continuum of strategies, and to be successful one has to find the right balance between constructive play and destructive play.

But I’m still stuck in the chivalrous ideal of honesty, truth and beauty, and will judge my oppositions performance based on those values. Even if I loose the game, I will not lose my pride.