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Feature: 'Book Excerpt - Playing to Win'

For today's Gamasutra feature, we excerpt David Sirlin’s recent 'Playing to Win: Becoming the Champion', a book about self-improvement through competitive gaming, includi...
For today's Gamasutra feature, we excerpt David Sirlin’s recent 'Playing to Win: Becoming the Champion', a book about self-improvement through competitive gaming, including the prologue and introduction, followed by a later section that introduces the connection between Sun Tzu’s Art of War and modern day competitive gaming. From the prologue: "A lot of people get rubbed the wrong way by this stuff because they think I want to apply “playing to win” to everyone. I don’t. It’s not that I think everyone should be on this particular peak or that everyone would even want to be. There are other peaks in life, probably better ones. But those who are stuck in the chasm really should know their positions and how to reach a happier place. Then, there is the age-old question of how much, if any of this, applies to real life. I start out by defining the big differences between real life and games: games are sharply defined by rules; life is not. Exploring extreme “corner cases” of a game is what high-level play is about. Exploring extreme situations in life can easily be socially unacceptable, morally wrong, and illegal. Competitive games require military virtues: immediacy, emergency tactics, and the end (winning) justifies the means (as long as it’s through moves the game defines as legal). Real life requires civic virtues like kindness, understanding, justice, and mercy. And yet Playing to Win has valuable life lessons to teach that go beyond the scope of games. Before we’re ready to talk about that, though, it’s time to start winning." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the topic, including Sirlin's theories on presence of mind in fighting games (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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